Winter Excursion: Platte River Paddle

Grab some waterproof layers, and gear up for a winter day on the water.

With hundreds of miles of meandering rivers and scenic lakefront, northern Michigan is a paradise for watersports during the summer. However, you can dust the snow off your kayaks and hit the Platte River to experience a unique beauty and some tranquility while paddling in the winter. One thing to remember: it's important to plan for the temperature of the water, not the air. Keep reading for some tips on paddling the Platte River, in winter.

Plan Your Route

The Platte River is divided into two sections that vary in difficulty. The Lower Platte has slow, shallow waters and few obstacles, making it the safest route for the winter. Don't forget to drop a vehicle at the end of Lake Michigan Road and drive another car back to your launch spot. To avoid crossing Loon Lake in the ice and unpredictable weather, one suggestion is to launch your kayak at the El Dorado Boat Launch, which gives you a scenic 1.5-hour trip.


Note: A National Parks Pass is required for the access points within the National Lakeshore.

What to Bring

Two words: Waterproof. Layers.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario, just in case you end up in the water. To properly prepare, wear an insulated base layer such as a wet suit, water-resistant outerwear, and waterproof gloves/footwear. A backup set of dry clothes is also a good idea. Remember to pack everything in the M22 Dry Bags to keep our cameras, binoculars, and (most importantly) snacks safe.


Note: Always follow the rules of the water, and keep your life jacket on board at all times.

Pro Tip:

Explore by Land

Take your adventure up a notch by exploring the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's surrounding lands after your paddle. There are numerous trails through the woods and along the lakefront that are perfect for winter exploration, including the Platte Plains Hiking and Ski Trail. In fact, the National Park Service offers self-guided snowshoeing tours on your smartphone for an immersive and educational experience.

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