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Michigan > Michigan State Parks and Forests > Rifle River Recreation Area
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Rifle River Recreation Area

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General Information

White-tailed Deer are commonly called Virginia Deer
Copyright: Patty Elton - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
White-tailed Deer are commonly called Virginia Deer
Description - This 4,329-acre park was formerly a private hunting and fishing retreat owned by the late H.M. Jewett, a pioneer auto manufacturer. In 1945 the tract, then called "Grousehaven," was purchased by the Department of Conservation from Mrs. Jewett. The Department of Conservation renamed it the Rifle River Area and used it as a field laboratory for fish and game research. In 1963 it was acquired by Parks Division and is now know as the Rifle River Recreation Area protecting a variety of habitats that include upland hardwood and pine forest, open grassland, lowland forest, cedar swamp, bog, marsh, and open water.

The terrain ranges from level to rolling hills and contains a mixture of open brush land, wetlands, and mature hardwood forest, with some pockets of open meadows mixed in.

Attractions - Outdoor activities at Rifle River Recreation Area center on the park's 10 inland lakes and ponds. A modern campground is located on the north shore of Grousehaven Lake. The 80-site campground features a swimming beach, playground, boat launch and trailer pump-out facility. There are three rustic campgrounds in the recreation area. One is located on Devoe Lake and the other two, Ranch and Spruce campgrounds, are located on the Rifle River. Facilities are limited to vault toilets and hand pumps. Campsites total 181. Rustic trail side cabins are available for rent at five locations within the park. Modern bathhouse facilities are open April 1 to December 1.

Day use facilities with swimming beach and picnic areas are available to park visitors at Grousehaven Lake and Devoe Campground. A picnic shelter and beach house is offered. Fourteen miles of hiking trails lead visitors to areas conducive to wildlife and birdlife sightings. The pathways meander throughout the park affording hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Numbered posts keyed to the park map will help keep users orient themselves. An observation tower gives sightseers a fantastic scenic view of the recreation area. In addition, there is plenty of open space available for nature study. Day users are also welcome to use the boat launch and children's playground.

Rifle River Recreation Area is open to hunting for all species between September 15 and March 31 in accordance with the State Hunting Regulations. This park boasts excellent deer and rabbit hunting. Great hunting opportunities exist for grouse, woodcock, duck, goose, and squirrel as well. The park is also open to trapping, with many lakes and streams offering excellent beaver, muskrat and mink populations. Boat motors, including trolling motors, are prohibited on all lakes within Rifle River Recreation Area affording great flatwater paddlesport opportunities.

All 10 scenic lakes are available for fishing. Bluegill, rock bass, northern pike, yellow perch and trout can be found in these lakes. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are present throughout the many miles of streams in the recreation area. Fisheries research is being conducted on Jewett Lake. This lake is closed to fishing without a permit, which is available at the park headquarters.

The area is open for winter use so that visitors can enjoy activities such as cross-country skiing and ice fishing. Snowmobiles are allowed, but a Motor Vehicle Permit is required for each snowmobile.

The Au Sable River Scenic Byway is located 20 miles east of Rifle River Recreation Area. Along this byway are many attractions, including Lumbermen's Monument Visitor Center and Largo Springs.

Recreation - Recreation at Rifle River Recreation Area includes wildlife viewing, bird watching, trout fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, camping, picnicking, group picnicking, playground fun, hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Rifle River Grousehaven- Modern - (800) 447-2757, 75 site(s), $17
Rifle River-Spruce Rustic - (800) 447-2757, 16 site(s), $10
Rifle River- Group Use Area - (989) 473-2258, Contact the park
Rifle River-Rustic Cabins - (989) 473-2258, 5 site(s), $65
Rifle River-Ranch Rustic - (800) 447-2575, 25 site(s), $10
Rifle River-Devoe Lake Rustic - (800) 447-2757, 58 site(s), $10

Rifle River-Pintail Pond - 0.75 (Miles), Hiking, Cross Country Ski
Rifle River-Multi-use Trail - 14 (Miles), Hiking, Mountain Biking, Cross Country Ski

Climate - Northern Michigan normally experiences mild summers with average temperatures around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Winter temperatures average 14 - 22 degrees F (-10 to -6 degrees C). Yearly rain and snowmelt in the region averages 28 - 36 inches but can be dramatically altered by the "lake effect," thus depositing significant amounts of snow within a short period of time causing hazardous road conditions.

Location - The park is located east of Rose City. To reach the park from Interstate 75, get off at exit 202 (Rose City) and go 20 miles north on M-33 to Rose City. Head east on Rose City Road 4.5 miles.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My family has been going here for too many years to remember-my husband's family also cmae here when he was a kid-we have been curious about HM Jewett-we have been to the lookout tower many times and I have been trying to find pictures of the old Jewett Lodge that used to be there. If anyone has any info or pictures of the lodge please e-mail me. thanks

Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I've been going to te park for about ten years now in every season but mostly in October. To avoid the crowds and enjoy the tranquility, I recommend going during the work week that way even if you take a kayak trip you seldom see anyone but a few fly fishermen.....the campsites are mostly spacious, level, and surrounded by forest and underbrush.......my biggest recommendation if you are into canoeing or kayaking is to take the south branch Au Sable river instead of the Rifle. It is very serene and has no private property along the 14 mile trip.

Filed By: Brittany Williams (Linden, MI)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I loved our trip to the Rifle River Recreation Area, the views are amazying. All of the people my fiance and i met were so nice. there are so many lakes you can spend all day just finding them and enjoying the great fishing, and trails that lead all over the land! I can wait to return next July on our Honeymoon!

Filed By: Christy Stephens (Wyoming, MI)
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: There really wasnt anything touch about our trip. The biggest reward was catching fish and jsut having so much fun. WE stayed in the Ranch and Devoe lake campgrounds I really liked the Ranch grounds alot better. We liked it so much that we are going back in three weeks!!

Filed By: John Schlicker (Saginaw, MI)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I love this area! Nice beaches and great bike trails make a great outdoor experience. I could spend all year taking in the trails, lakes, forests and wildlife. I will certainly be back many times in the future. My entire stay was almost completely perfect. The only disappointment came as a result of other campers, in two instances. First, my brother and his family stayed at a rustic site near my rustic site. After pulling in, his kids picked up two garbage bags full of trash before they set up camp. This was all junk that had been left behind, both on the ground and in the fire pit. Second, a group of high school\college aged kids came in one evening and set up camp near us. They were rowdy, as is expected for that age, but did settle down shortly after quiet hours. That was fine. However, the next morning I walked down to their site to see they had left trash all over the site, including food, wrappers and empty beer cans. What was the most disturbing is that the fire was still smoldering and there was trash in the pit. It would have only been a matter of time before the trash caught on fire, had I not removed it. I am disappointed at how much trash there is in the campsites. Let me rephrase that. I am disappointed in the campers that left all the trash behind. It should not be the park rangers' job to clean up after campers. It is a privilege to use these sites, and they need to be treated respectfully, especially considering how reasonably priced an overnight stay is. I wouldn't mind if campers had to pay a deposit, or leave credit card information at the park office. Then, if the site is not left as clean as when they arrived, a clean-up fee would be charged. I was always taught to leave a site cleaner than how you found it. Apparently, this lesson has been lost on many of today's campers.

More Information

Contact Information:
Rifle River Recreation Area, P.O. Box 98 , Lupton, MI, 48635, Phone: 989-473-2258, TTY: 517-335-4623

Additional Information:
Michigan State Parks and Forests - Everything that makes Michigan special is embodied in the 96 State Parks. Boasting sterling recreation, Michigan State Parks and Forests invite you to enjoy one of their 14,000 campsites, 170 winter-sport areas and infinite rivers, streams, and lakes.
Northern Michigan - Flat agricultural and industrial lands of southern Michigan evolve into scenic rolling glacial hillsides covered with hardwoods and conifers and bisected by some of the state's largest waterways including the famed Au Sable and Thunder Bay rivers.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Official agency website.


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