How to Spend an Adventurous Day with Big Bear Adventures

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By Published On: September 5, 2022Categories: Latest Articles

Big Bear Adventures in Indian River takes full advantage of its location in the middle of the 40-mile Inland Waterway, Michigan’s longest chain of lakes and rivers. Situated near the Sturgeon River and Michigan’s state forest with its trails, they’ll provide what you’ll need to get out on the water in various watercraft or take to the woods in an ATV.

Whether staying in Indian River or at one of the other resort areas like Mackinaw City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, or Gaylord, Big Bear Adventures is within a mile of Interstate 75. The location makes it quick and easy to get to, no matter where you’re coming from.

Rafting on the Sturgeon River

Rafting on the Sturgeon River with Big Bear Adventures

On the Water

I suggest starting your day at Big Bear Adventures with the water portion of your day when you’re fresh, as I found the water activities to take the most effort. We went rafting but paddling any craft out on the river—rafting, canoeing, kayaking, or even just tubing you’ll want to be alert.

Also, this is the most time-variable part of the day, so you’ll want to allow plenty of time. How long a trip takes depends on the type of watercraft you use, the paddler, the river conditions, and the section of the river you choose to navigate. Another factor is the length and frequency of your stops during the trip.

While the Sturgeon River is a Class I/II and not whitewater, it is the fastest in the lower peninsula. Along with the twists and turns, you’ll still find it exciting. The average depth is 3 to 4 feet, but you’ll see sections typically around the outside of turns that are a bit deeper at 5 to 8 feet.

Even in the summer heat, the temperature is usually around 42 to 52 degrees because the water moves so quickly.

The river’s currents vary. The mid-sections to upper sections between Wolverine and Fisher Woods are the most challenging. The closer you get to Burt Lake; you’ll find the area smoother and slower. In the segments from Trowbridge to Wolverine, you’ll have an active paddling experience, although not as much as the parts farther north from Wolverine at Lumberjack Park.

Rafting on the Sturgeon River

Rafting on the Sturgeon River


Big Bear Adventures offers seven and five-person rafts, which are more stable than kayaks. But they also have kayaks available. So, while the current moves you down the river, your group must avoid impediments. Finally, the journey finishes at Burt Lake State Park, where you can swim and play on the beach. As a first-timer, rafting was fun and exciting, ending our trip at Burt Lake State Park.

Other ways to navigate the Sturgeon River include tubes, kayaks, and catamarans. Each type of watercraft offers something different from the others, and you’ll want to choose depending on how much time you have and your experience level.

On Land

Exploring via an ATV with Big Bear Adventures

Exploring via an ATV with Big Bear Adventures

Guided ATV Tours

ATVs or two-by-twos are an excellent way to get out in the woods. They offer a 2.5-hour guided ATV tour. While you drive through Michigan’s hardwood forests for a genuine northern Michigan experience, the guide leads your group in their vehicle while you follow. Because you’re with an experienced local guide, you needn’t worry about getting lost, mechanical issues, or road hazards. Yet, you have the fun of driving the trails yourself.

Big Bear Adventures has ATVs plus all the safety equipment. They outfit you with everything from helmets and goggles to scarves to protect you from dust and dirt. So, bring yourself and a sense of adventure!

Family Fun Center

18-Hole Adventure Golf

Even if someone in your group is an avid golfer, they’ll have fun with this course. It features 11 water hazards, including bubbling brooks, streams, waterfalls, and natural rock. Be careful of the swinging log and watch out for the grizzly looking for a lunch of salmon in the stream. They even have a mounted World Record 8-foot-tall Alaskan Brown Bear, from which Big Bear Adventures gets its name.

Depending on the size of your party, 18-holes of adventure golf will take between 45 and 90 minutes.

The Ropes Course

The course features 11 components that require balance, agility and focus to overcome. You’ll find challenges like tightrope walking, swinging steps, a tremor bridge, and vertical-angle stairs. The Sky Trail, the ropes challenge course, involves horizontally strung cables, ropes, boards, and other materials secured between steel supports to create elements or activities.

If you take this challenge, they’ll outfit you with a full body harness and a safety lanyard, or sling line, that is always hooked into an overhead safety system. You can cross each element by walking, balancing, or traversing to the opposite platform. But you’ll only want to do the pieces as you feel comfortable. For example, the sling line and harness won’t let you go more than 4 inches if you fall. Then you can get up and continue. You’ll want to allow a total of 30 minutes for this activity.

Things to Know Before You Go
  1. The maximum weight limit is 300 pounds.
  2. Children must be at least 48 inches tall, and the harness must fit securely.
  3. You must have closed-toe shoes that are secure at the heel. They don’t allow flip-flops or slides.
  4. Croc-style shoes with a heel strap are acceptable. They rent them for $2.
  5. They don’t allow skirts, dresses, or short shorts.
  6. Pockets must be empty, eyeglasses secured, and no loose objects.

Bumper Boats

The bumper boats feature an ultra-quiet, 24-volt electric motor. You’ll only hear the fun sounds of splashing and laughter while your group battles with squirters attached to the bumper boats.

Things to Know Before You Go
  1. The maximum weight limit is 450 pounds.
  2. When Single Riding, the driver must be at least 44 inches tall.
  3. When Double Riding, the passenger must be at least 40 inches tall, and the driver must be at least 18 years old or a parent.
  4. Two children can’t ride alone in the same boat.
  5. Two adults can’t ride together in the same boat.
  6. They don’t recommend this activity for individuals with heart, back, or neck problems.
Northwoods Lodge

Northwoods Lodge

Where to Stay?

While you’ll find many different lodging options in Indian River, Big Bear Adventures partners with Northwoods Lodge. If you stay at the Northwoods Lodge, you’ll receive a 10% discount on Big Bear Adventure activities. If you stay elsewhere, you can receive an Early Bird Discount by arriving before 10:30 a.m. using this coupon. Located 1.5 miles north of Big Bear Adventures, Northwoods Lodge offers 15 northern Michigan-themed rooms that have log furniture, wildlife décor, and continental breakfast included in your rate. You’ll need that sustenance for the active day ahead.

Additionally, they have a three-bedroom, dorm-style facility on-site at Big Bear Adventures that will sleep up to 12 guests. This may be perfect if you have a larger family or group. They do have Lodging Packages available.

Northwoods Lodge Picnic Area

Northwoods Lodge Picnic Area


Big Bear Adventures presents so many types of adventures. You’ll want to spend the entire day experiencing as much as possible during that one day. Alternatively, if you’re in the area for several days, you can spread it out and do their activities over several days. In any case, the entire family will have a lot of fun experiencing all that Big Bear Adventures offers.

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