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Best Places to Paddleboard in the United States – Michigan 2021

Best Places to Paddleboard in the United States – Michigan 2021

Michigan SUP

1: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks SUP

Located on Lake Superior, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is almost a hundred miles of sandy beaches, long stretches of wildflowers, and the picturesque cliff faces that give the Pictured Rocks their name. The sandstone cliffs tower from anywhere between 50 to 200 feet above the water, with stunning colors that vary where you paddle. As erosion eats away at the outside rock and reveals the minerals beneath, you’ll find shades of red and orange, blue and green, brown and black, white, and other colors as you tour along the side of the pictured rock cliffs.

While the Great Lakes are all worth considering, the beauty of the Pictured Rocks, and the magic of paddling just beneath them, is why we included the Great Lakes as one of our top fifteen paddleboarding destinations in the entire United States. With fishing, yoga, sailing, and other popular SUP activities well suited for this lake as well, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a must-visit destination for all paddleboarders visiting Michigan.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 189
Distance to Major Cities: 1 Hour to Marquette
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

2: Platte River/Platte Lake

Platte River SUP
With an average depth of 3’, and lovely sandy beaches and fields of grass marking much of its shoreline, the Platte River is one of the best paddleboarding destinations for beginner and young paddlers. You can launch from almost anywhere on the river and find an excellent place to paddle, but if you start at the Platte River Campgrounds, you can rent your gear at the water.

Starting from the Platte River Campgrounds offers other advantages as well, as having a place to stay overnight, you can paddle into the over 2,500 acres Platte Lake. Once you’re in the lake, you’ll be impressed by the extremely clear blue waters (a result of invasive Zebra mussels) and will have plenty of wind to sail or surf with if you’re looking for a challenge.

Just be aware that while both the Platte River and Lake are quite warm in the summer, these waters can drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Plan your visit and bring the proper gear, and you’ll have a great time exploring the Platte River and Lake.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 163
Distance to Major Cities: 45 Minutes to Traverse City
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

3: Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes SUP
The Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore is another magical location to visit in Michigan, with sand dunes that range from connecting right to the water to sitting over 450’ above it. Totaling over 35 miles in length, paddlers can embark from dozens of soft, pristine sand beaches. Sleeping Bear Dunes offer some of the best sights in the state for when you can see, but we do have it a bit lower on our list as, once you leave the immediate shoreline, it is recommended for intermediate to advanced paddlers only.

Outside of very cool waters, the Sleeping Bear Dunes are known for weather that can change from calm and idyllic to thick fog, heavy wind, or large rainstorms in a matter of hours. If you are more experienced, consider paddling around the Sleeping Bear Dunes for impressive, unforgettable sights.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 163
Distance to Major Cities: 45 Minutes to Traverse City
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

4: Muskegon Lake

Muskegon Lake SUP
Lake Michigan is worth paddling while you’re in the state, but depending on when you visit, it may be too cold (or overcrowded) for a great paddling experience. That’s why we would recommend taking the time and paddling on Muskegon Lake due to several advantages and events it has over Lake Michigan.

The best aspect of the 4,150 acres Muskegon Lake is that it’s more shallow waters warm up more than Lake Michigan, making Muskegon Lake almost 5 to 10 degrees warmer than its sister lake at times. Muskegon Lake is also the starting point for the annual Great Lakes Surf Festival, which puts on various events and competitions for all sorts of water sports activities. If you’ve ever wanted to participate in an extensive group yoga session, paddleboarding race, SUP wind sailing event, or hang out with a ton of different paddleboarders, the Great Lakes Surf Festival is one of the best events to meet other SUPers.

With friendly and warmer waters, along with hosting several SUPing clubs and activities, Muskegon Lake is a go-to spot for many Michigan paddleboarders while they explore Lake Michigan.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 164
Distance to Major Cities: Direct Access to Muskegon
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

5: Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair SUP

Detroit is the reason many out-of-state visitors will take a trip to Michigan, so if you’re looking for something fun to do while you’re in the city, paddle on Lake St. Clair. Shared with Ontario, Lake St. Clair is a 430 square mile freshwater lake that hosts racing, sailing, and other recreational boating and paddleboarding clubs.

The lake is one of the most popular fishing destinations for Michigan, with Muskellunge, Walleye, Northern Pike, Bluegill, Rainbow Trout, and several other species making their home in the lake. One note of caution is that while Lake St. Clair is particularly warm and enjoyable to visit in the summer, its average water temperature drops below 35 degrees from December to March, making it dangerous to paddle on in the winter.

If you’re visiting Detroit in the summer or bring the right gear with you during the winter, you can have a fun time in the area as you paddle on Lake St. Clair.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 183
Distance to Major Cities: Direct Access to Detroit
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

Conclusion: Plan Your Paddle Board Trip and Have Fun!

Thank you for reading about some of our top paddleboarding destinations for Michigan! We’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of these destinations, but a few of the above locations are based on other paddleboarders’ reviews and recommendations. As such, we welcome our reader feedback for our list and invite you to help us make it even better by leaving a comment below or sending us an email with your thoughts.

While you’re visiting our website, you’ll also find our list of top 15 paddleboarding destinations in the United States, and you can look forward to our suggestions for other states like Minnesota. If you’re trying to learn more about paddleboarding in general, you can also check out our latest paddleboard reviews, instructional tips and guides, and in-depth video breakdowns on some of the most popular paddleboards on the market.

Thank you again for visiting SUPBoardGuide.com! Be sure to let us know what you think of paddleboarding in Michigan!

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Heyo! At SupBoardGuide.com we are a team who love the water, the outdoors, and are more than grateful that our full-time job allows us to review stand up paddle boards. We paddle year round (it helps that we are just about 2 hours outside of Las Vegas), and we bring in a wide range of paddlers with the goal of providing our readers with the best, most in-depth, and accurate stand up paddle board reviews.

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