Newaygo County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Go Explore Newaygo County Paddling Fishing Camping



The Muskegon River is the "Friendly Giant" of Michigan's rivers, and at 230 miles long, it is Michigan's second longest river behind the Grand. It has three major dams: Rogers, Croton and Hardy, which together generate about 45,600 kilowatts of electricity, enough to serve a community of 23,000. The river has its headwaters in Houghton Lake, and snakes its way across the western portion of Michigan's lower peninsula in a continuous southwest direction, until it eventually reaches Muskegon Lake, and is discharged into Lake Michigan via a one mile long channel. It drains a watershed of more than 2.300 square miles. Major branches of the river include the Little Muskegon River, Hersey River and Cedar Creek.

During the boom years of the 1880s and 1890s it was a favored logging river, and it is said that during these times there were more logs floated down the Muskegon River than down any other river in the world. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 the river also played a large role in supplying much of the lumber that was used to rebuild that city.  Some say there are still remnants of logs embedded in the river's bottom, and if one has a keen enough eye, they can still pick out these remnants abandoned during spring logging runs.

The river has gained recognition as a recreational fishery, boasting large Steelhead, Salmon, and Brown Trout. Other species in this area include Small Mouth Bass, Walleye, Rainbow Trout, and Northern Pike. The Muskegon River has been nationally ranked as one of the top 20 rivers for fishing by "Field and Stream," and has been ranked among the top 12 rivers for recreation by "National Geographic."

The Muskegon River is a beautiful and peaceful waterway, abundant in wildlife. Each year the river's mild currents carry paddlers through miles of quiet forests, with each bend bringing forth more surprises of beautiful scenery. Paddlers can occasionally see deer, beaver, assorted waterfowl, and even eagles while on their river trips.