We recently took our RV up to northern Michigan for the week of 4th of July. Let me tell you how competitive it was to get a campsite in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park!! It did require some stalking of campsites but it worked! I waited for the right window to open up several days before and at the exact moment the reservation window opened I already had my site picked and I was hitting submit.
One of the more popular attractions and the biggest hit with our family was floating down the Platte River. Since we stayed at the Platte River Campgrounds, we were right down the road but it took us a couple days to figure out the right spot, for our family with younger children, to put in.
Rental companies in the area
There are several rental companies to rent tubes or kayaks from but we chose to bring our own. We brought our Kayak and an air mattress for the girls. Much to our surprise, the air mattress was a huge hit with fellow floaters. Honestly, you don't need anything fancy. A regular water raft would do. I secretly envied a floater who had this Rubber Ducky. How fun is that?!
We did the river 2 days in a row. The first day we put our kayak and mattress in at the landing across from Riverside Canoe Trips. This park had plenty of parking and located off of Lake Michigan Rd right when you turn off of N Scenic HWY 22. However, since we only had 1 car and didn't want to walk very far with little kids this didn't make the ideal spot to start. We ended up floated down a short part of the river for about 45 minutes and getting out when we hit the first "landing" on the left, just before Loom Lake. There was a short trail that we all walked while carrying the kayak back to the HWY just by Riverside Canoes. It was pretty dreadful. The trail was full of mosquitos and we didn't really know what we were doing.
The second day, after asking around and scoping out Lake Michigan Road, the hubby dropped us off at El Dorado landing. From there he parked the van at Lake Township Park (down Lake Michigan Rd.) and walked back to El Dorado. The walk only took him a couple minutes and it was about a half a mile. From El Dorado, you float for about an hour to Lake Township Park. It's a calm, slow float that is perfect for families with young kids. The water was warm and being out on the river was serenity even with three kids begging to jump off the raft. HAHA Lake Township Park is where the river meets Lake Michigan. It's a wonderful park to visit and let the kids swim, even if you are not tubing. The water is clear and much warmer than Lake Michigan.
If you have more time to float, and a second car or arrange for a shuttle, you can try floating all the way down from the landing at Riverside Canoe Trips. That trip would probably take between 2.5 and 3 hours.
Once we got to Lake Township Park we let the kids splash around on the beach and swim in the water. After floating for an hour they were ready to let loose! It was definitely a popular spot and I was grateful we decided to do this trip early in the day. As the day went on it became more crowded. It was a ton of fun and I noticed that people who didn't even float the fiver were at Lake Township Park to enjoy the water.
Suggestions for Floating the Platte River
- Bring your own floaty
- Bring a cooler (alcohol is allowed)
- If you have young kids, bring a small fishnet for some catch and release at Lake Township Park. There are tons of little fish.
- Wear water shoes. The beach is sand mixed with rocks and little stones.
- Scout out your path and where you will park the day before
- Go early!!! The earlier the better and the more likely you will find a parking spot.
This was so much fun and something I would NOT suggest missing on your trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park!!
Have you been to Sleeping Bear Dunes? What was your favorite thing to do near Sleeping Bear?