Crystal River Access

Light turquoise river flows by a stepped down gravel access area
Crystal River boat access

NPS credit

Quick Facts

Canoe/Kayak/Small Boat Launch

Ah, the beautiful Crystal River--gentle currents, meandering curves, water as clear as glass. The Crystal River winds from Glen Lake through sections of the Lakeshore into Lake Michigan just north of Glen Arbor. Shallow (water depth is rarely more than 1 foot) and with a sandy bottom, this river is ideal for families, beginning canoeists and kayakers.

You can "shoot the tube" under a bridge through a large culvert. Point your bow toward the middle of the three tubes (make sure everyone has a life vest on, fastened tightly), pull in your paddle, hunch down low and let the current whisk you through. You'll shoot out into swirling water on the other end. You can portage around the culvert if you prefer.

The river and surrounding wetlands provide interesting and valuable habitat to enjoy. The warm river waters are full of bass, sunfish, and pike, and the riverbanks are home to deer, rabbits, muskrat, heron, beaver, fox and coyote. There is a concerted effort underway by Federal, State, and Local organizations to restore its watershed to conditions that will sustain native plant and animal species.

The river level fluctuates and can sometimes create a fragile environment for plant and wildlife. There is a wayside sign at this launch site that indicates water level and provides instructions for paddlers.

Paddle safe

Before going out for a paddle, check the weather. Have a boating plan and make sure others know it. Always wear safety gear, including personal flotation devices. Buddy up, don't go out alone. Check your boat and make sure it is safe for conditions. And always keep the shoreline in sight.

**Clean Your Boats**
Please clean, drain, and dry your boat after you leave any body of water, especially Lake Michigan, to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. This is especially important for our inland lakes.

For more information on aquatic invasive species and their impacts to lakes, streams, and how we recreate please visit the following websites:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Last updated: November 7, 2021