In 1978, sixty-six miles of the Pere Marquette were designated a National Scenic River. The Pere Marquette River is the longest unregulated (no dams or impoundments) river system in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The river is a nationally known, high-quality stream supporting large populations of resident trout, steelhead and salmon, as well as, being a popular canoeing and kayaking destination each summer.
A permit system, in place from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through Monday of Labor Day, protects the river’s values by limiting the number of people and non-motorized watercraft in the corridor. All watercraft, including tubes and stand up paddle boards, must have a permit during this time. The Pere Marquette, within the Forest’s boundary, has been divided into three segments for the purpose of managing watercraft during the summer season: Segment 1 - Forks to Bowman Bridge; Segment 2 - Bowman Bridge to Upper Branch Bridge; and Segment 3 - Upper Branch Bridge to Indian Bridge. The river’s characteristics and the setting vary by river segment. Someone wanting a recreation experience where there is a good chance of encountering others would enjoy Segment 1; those wanting the opportunity to experience more solitude would appreciate Segment 3. There are 11 river access sites with launches providing opportunities to plan a variety of floats including overnight trips with camping on the river.
Camping within the river corridor on National Forest lands is allowed only at designated sites, Bowman Bridge Campground and Gleason’s Landing Campground. Sites range from developed campgrounds to primitive, canoe-in only sites. Fees for camping and using river access sites are charged under the Recreation Fee Enhancement Act. Check the bulletin board at each site for fees and additional information.
This permit allows the permit holder and their group to use watercraft on the Pere Marquette River. Permits are required for all watercraft, including tubes and stand up paddle boards, from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through the Monday of Labor Day Weekend for a recreation fee of $2 per watercraft. A maximum of eight watercraft per reservation is allowed.
Permits are available in advance beginning January 1 each year and are required on the Pere Marquette River between Forks and Indian Bridge public access sites.
One Day, Multiple Segment Trips: To float multiple segments of the river on the same day, please select each desired segment for that day prior to booking. This will ensure all segments you selected for the one day will included on one permit. You may not reserve another segment for the same day once you have booked a permit for that day.
Permits are required for all watercraft, including tubes and stand up paddle boards, from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through the Monday of Labor Day Weekend for a fee of $2 per watercraft.
Watercraft hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Much of the river corridor is privately owned. Use only public sites for rest stops. Look for the “Entering/Leaving” signs that indicate public land. Respect private property.
A day use fee ($5) is required at Green Cottage, Gleason’s Landing, Bowman Bridge, Rainbow Rapids, Upper Branch and Indian Bridge.
It is prohibited to possess or operate a vessel equipped with a motor upstream from Indian Bridge on National Forest System lands. 36 CFR 261.58 (n)
To ensure the safety of visitors and protection of this wonderful resource we need an agreement from you and your group to the following:
Observe all local, state and Federal laws and regulations.
Each watercraft occupant must have a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Children age six and under must wear a PFD at all times.
Carry and present your permit upon request of any Forest Officer.
Glass bottles/containers, foam containers/coolers, fireworks, and nudity are prohibited on the river.
Camping and campfires in the river corridor are only allowed at designated areas.
Fasten all belongings to your watercraft to prevent loss and littering. Dispose of trash at an appropriate location.
Limiting alcoholic beverages to four per person is encouraged.
Printing Your Permit
You can print your permit starting 14 days before your launch date. Changes cannot be made to your reservation once it has been printed. Do not print your permit until you are sure you will not be making any changes. Either a paper copy or digital copy (PDF) of your printed permit will be accepted and must be presented when requested. You have to print the permit from your Recreation.gov account (whether on paper or as a PDF) for the permit to be considered issued. The confirmation email will not be accepted as proof of a permit.
Permits are required for all watercraft, including tubes and stand-up paddle boards, from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through the Monday of Labor Day Weekend for a recreation fee of $2 per day per watercraft.
The reservation fee ($6.00) is non-refundable.
A Recreation Enhancement Act Fee, $5 per day per vehicle, is required at most access sites on the Pere Marquette. Daily, weekly, annual, household, and lifetime passes are sold at the Baldwin, Manistee, and Cadillac Offices. Some passes can be purchased online.
There are no refunds for cancelling a reservation once you have printed your permit. The $6.00 reservation fee is non-refundable for all reservations.
650 N. Michigan Avenue Baldwin MI 49304