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Enjoy the Pere Marquette River on a Canoe or Kayak

The Pere Marquette is an extremely popular river for canoeists. The moderately fast current, the clear water, the low degree of stream bank development, have all helped to make this river a mecca for those who canoe or kayak.

The river is two to four feet deep and is divided into three sections:

  • Section #1: M-37 Bridge to Bowman Bridge
  • Section #2: Bowman Bridge to Upper Branch Bridge
  • Section #3: Upper Branch Bridge to Indian Bridge
River Run Canoe Livery
Pere Marquette Expeditions


From Scottville to Ludington
No permit is needed to enter the river which is open to paddlers from 9am-6pm. We suggest you contact Pere Marquette Expeditions or River Run Canoe Livery for kayak and canoe rental.

Scottville & Eastward

The Pere Marquette River has daily watercraft limits, and from Memorial Day-Labor Day, you must have a permit to enter the river. It is open to paddlers from 9am-6pm. A daily permit is available by calling the U.S. Forest Service at (231) 745-4631, or at the Baldwin Ranger District Office. Cost is $2.00 per watercraft and you must obtain the permit for the particular section you wish to paddle. If you allow two weeks time, a permit can be mailed to you before your arrival at the Pere Marquette River. The Forest Service also charges a $5 daily parking fee at their access sites. You may also obtain a $15 weekly or $30 annual parking pass.

River Run Canoe Livery rents canoes, kayaks (both single and double), rafts, and tubes. They are conveniently located right in Scottville and they will transport you to and from the Pere Marquette River launch. Dogs and fishing poles welcome!

Commercial canoe liveries are well established on the mainstream. In Lake and Mason counties there are approximately 730 rental canoes available. Of this figure, approximately 450 were located on or near the immediate area of the Pere Marquette River.

The U.S. Forest Service has estimated that 90 percent of the canoe use in the system occurs from the “Forks” to Upper Branch Bridge with 65 percent of the canoe use occurring from the “Forks” to Bowman’s Bridge. Canoeists on the Pere Marquette are further characterized by:

  • Over half of the use is by organized groups who tend to travel in parties.
  • Most of the use occurs on weekends, with Saturday being the most popular single day.
  • Few trips are more than one day, with four to six hours being the most popular canoe length.
  • Most canoeists are inexperienced and many are first-timers.
  • Use is concentrated from 9am to 7pm.
  • Use season is from late May to October.

Boating with motors is concentrated from Indian Bridge to the mouth. Such boating is usually concentrated with fishing rather than pleasure boating and most often occurs during the spring and fall and steelhead and salmon runs.

Source: Pere Marquette River Natural River Plan, Michigan DNR (revised 2002)

More Pere Marquette River area info:

Planning a visit to the Pere Marquette River area? Have questions about your trip? Here’s where you can find help: 

Scroll below for more articles about the Pere Marquette River area.

Experience the Pere Marquette River

Top Events Along the Pere Marquette River

All year long, there are activities going on in the Scottville area to keep everyone happy. No matter what the season, there’s always plenty of great events to keep you coming back. Boredom is never a problem here!