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This is the most comprehensive guide to vacationing resources located in Michigan's beautiful AuSable River Valley.  It includes information on on places to stay, places to eat, places to have fun, places to shop, a places to shop and places to obtain services in the larger cities as well as the small villages. It contains  417 pages of information relating to these topics.


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River Road National Scenic Byway

Map - River Road National Scenic BywayThe scenic byway starts at the intersection of M-65 and Rollways Road and runs eastward along M-65 near Loud Dam Pond. The road runs through the Huron National Forest and along the Five Channels Dam Pond to a junction with River Road. There, the byway leaves M-65 to follow River Road eastward along the south bank of the Au Sable River. The road passes the Canoer's Memorial, the Kiwanis Monument and the Lumberman's Monument near Cooke Dam Pond. River Road runs away from the river, cutting across forest land near a bend in the Au Sable. Near the Old Orchard Park, the byway follows the southern shore of Foote Dam Pond. From here east, the roadway continues along the south bank of the river, across from Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, as it runs into Oscoda. The eastern terminus of the byway is at a junction with US 23 in town, a few blocks from Lake Huron.  The segment of the byway that follows M-65 is maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation), while River Road is under the jurisdiction of the Iosco County Road Commission).

River Road National Scenic Byway


South Branch Trail Campground Group Site is ideal for equestrian camping. The group area impresses with its beautiful scenery and convenient access to horseback riding and hiking along the 240-mile Michigan Shore-to-Shore Horseback Riding and Hiking Trail. Priority will be given to campers with horses, however everyone is welcome. The spacious site holds up to 250 campers and features a day-use horse parking area.


The Michigan Shore-to-Shore Trail is a 220-mile long trail that runs between Empire on Lake Michigan and Oscoda on Lake Huron across the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It is open to horseback riders and hikers but not bicycles. The trail's western end is located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The trail, going from west to east, travels through the Boardman River valley and follows the Au Sable River for about 50 miles (80 km). The trail was developed by trail riders in 1962 and travels through mixed hardwood and conifer forests. Public campgrounds are located throughout the route


Rollways Campground is located 7 miles from Hale, Michigan along the beautiful AuSable River. The site was built in 1909 as one of the first campgrounds established in Huron National Forest. The space is small and secluded and features an observation area, picnic grounds and log shelter..The facility is located just off the River Road National Scenic Byway in northeast Lower Michigan. The byway showcases incredible views of the AuSable River Valley. Natural Features: Rollways is perched on a high bluff overlooking Loud Dam Pond on the AuSable River. The river flows from west to east for 138 miles until it reaches the great Lake Huron. Recreation: Hike on the accessible trail that connects the campground and picnic area to Westgate Scenic Overlook. Bring binoculars and a camera to take advantage of the epic view. The same hiking path passes a stairway leading down to the river where visitors can fish and wade.


Westgate Overlook -1Westgate Overlook along River Road National Scenic Byway


Loud Dam - 1Loud Dam is capable of producing 4,000 kilowatts, the hydro was completed in 1913. It is named for Edward Loud, who had done extensive lumber business along the Au Sable and bought up most of the cut over Au Sable lands between 1900-06, then later partnered with company founder William Foote and others to build the Au Sable hydros.


5-Channel Dam - 1Five Channels Dam is a hydro-electric dam on the Au Sable River in Michigan. Consumers Power Company (now Consumers Energy) began construction on this hydro-electric dam in 1911 and completed it in 1912. The dam, the second of six built by the company on the Au Sable River, is named for the nearby location where there were once five distinct river channels. The current plant is capable of producing 6,000 kilowatts.  During construction of the dam, the company tried to provide a healthy environment for workers by incorporating lessons learned on worker safety and health during construction of Panama Canal. They built a 45 acre camp for workers and their families, complete with a central water supply and sewage system, icehouse, school, washroom, store and boardinghouse. The workers also received land on which to build a house; the resulting structures ranged clapboard houses to log cabins to tarpaper shacks to tents. At the completion of dam construction, the worker's camp buildings were moved to the next construction site (the Loud Dam) or razed. The site of the workers' camp built to support construction of the dam was listed as an archaeological site (designated designated  on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 2002.


Iargo SpringsStairway to Iargo SpringsLying off of River Road National Scenic Byway, Iargo Springs provides a panoramic view of the Au Sable River. Used as a drinking water source since pre-settlement times, dams were constructed on the springs by early loggers before the turn of the century. The dams were useful in diverting water to the logging camps nearby. Most of Cooke Pond was dry land then.

Europeans have visited the springs for recreation since the 1920s. A trail to the springs was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. Early photographs show the dam being repaired and reinforced by the CCC's. The dams lasted until 1981 when a storm took them out. The site was renovated in 1991. Steps were added and boardwalks along the springs, as well as the dams being rebuilt.


Highbanks Trail - 7 miles - Hiking & Skiing Trail - Brochure & Map



Caoneer's Monument - 1Au Sable River From Canoers MonumentCanoer's Memorial honors those that have paddled and those that continue to paddle these flowing waters. Access to Highbanks Trail during summer months is available at this site.


Lumberman's Monument - 2WaniganLumberman’s Monument Visitor Center interprets the area’s colorful lumbering past. The 14-foot Lumberman’s Monument stands on a high bank with the Au Sable River providing a scenic backdrop.  Learn about the industry that helped develop northern Michigan and the men who cut the timber that helped build a nation. Climb through a log jam, use a peavey, cut a wooden cookie with a cross-cut saw, and learn about the life of a lumberjack through video and displays. Hike the stairway down to the wanigan, a loggers floating kitchen, or take the short trail to the dune observation deck. Enjoy a Kid’s Day program or take a guided nature hike.  To view a list of available programs go here:


Kiawanis MonumentKiwanis Monument commemorates the efforts of private citizens in the reforesting of Michigan's barren lands.


Corsair Trail has 28.3 miles of one-way trail that varies from gently rolling, easy terrain to somewhat hilly, most difficult terrain. The trails may be hiked anytime during the snow-free periods. The trails are marked with blue diamond-shaped confidence markers.  From Corsair Trailhead - This portion of the trail has a spur to a 600 ft. interpretive and fishing trail along Silver Creek..  From Silver Valley Trailhead - The portion of trail from this trailhead offers skiing that is gentler and less hilly.  There are two Silver Creek bridge crossings on this section.  Wrights Lake Trailhead - This portion of the trail provides a little more challenge with longer loops and steeper hills.


Cooke DamCooke Dam PondCooke Dam is a hydro-electric dam on the Au Sable River in Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the Cooke Hydroelectric Plant.  This dam began generating electricity in December 1911, with an original capacity of 9,000 kilowatts, making it the first of the six Au Sable River hydros. Cooke is named for banker Andrew Cooke, who helped secure financing for the project. Cooke Hydro was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 2, 1996. The honor recognizes the hydro's transmission of 140,000 volts, 125 miles to Flint, establishing a world record. Innovations included three-legged, windmill-like towers that supported the transmission line and advances in insulator design. Cooke Hydro is also part of the River Road Scenic Byway and listed in the National Scenic Byways Program. Lumberman’s Monument, a 14-foot bronze statue dedicated to Michigan lumbermen, is the centerpiece of a major Forest service visitor Center located on the Cooke Hydro pond. The site features interpretive displays, along with a panoramic overlook and staircase leading down to the pond.


Iosco County Snowmobile Trail Map


Foote Pond Scenic OverlookThis overlook provides visitors with views of the Au Sable River and Foote Pond, created by the Foote Pond Dam. Habitat for eagles is visible from this vantage point, and visitors may have an opportunity to view eagles or other wildlife. This is also a spectacular location to view fall colors.


Old Orchard ParkOld Orchard, which is one of the largest campgrounds in Northeast Michigan. Located within the Huron-Manistee National Forest,  along the River Road Scenic Byway, the park which is nearly four miles long, overlooks Foote Pond, which formed after the construction of  Foote Dam in 1916, on the AuSable River. The park is open from March thru November each year, with plenty out outdoor recreation opportunities for all three seasons therein.  This public recreation facility is part of a Consumers Energy Hydroelectric Dam Project licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory commission and is operated under the authority of the Township of Oscoda


Located above the Foot Site Dam on the AuSable River, along River Road National Scenic Byway, the three-acre site is owned by Consumers Energy Company and is maintained and operated by the Township. This is adjacent to the area where the privately owned AuSable river Queen docks. There is also a privately owned concession/gift shop adjacent to this site. This park has four privy toilets, paved parking, two boat launches and a children’s play area.


Au Sable River Queen-2The AuSable River Queen is the only paddlewheel riverboat of its kind  and offers a variety of tours. This unique paddlewheel boat runs into  the fall so that you may take in the splendor of the autumn colors. Live music is provided on the AuSable River Queen on weekends and there is a snack bar as well. Two hour round trip on the beautiful AuSable River.  Open Memorial Day until mid-October.


Foote DamFoote Dam is a hydro-electric dam on the Au Sable River in Michigan. This hydro-electric dam was completed in 1918 and generates a current of 9,000 kilowatts.[1] It is located 9 miles upstream from Lake Huron and is named for William A. Foote, the founder of Consumers Power, which later became Consumers Energy. In 1896, Foote took a side trip from Kalamazoo to Allegan, where he conceived the idea of a hydroelectric plant along the Kalamazoo River. In Foote's mind, that plant and others would power the industrial centers throughout the state.


There is a short, half hour walk on a limestone path to the Rollways Day Use area. Westgate features a kiosk that provides information on the Au Sable River and River Road National Scenic Byway. This is a great location to view the river and see fall color. Wildlife abounds and visitors will have many opportunities to see the varied bird life of the area, particularly trumpeter swans and eagles.


Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area - 1Tuttle Marsh is a 5,000 acre wetland project consisting of over 3-1/2  miles of level ditch network and a 2-1/2 mile low-head dam with water  level control structures. 35 earthen nesting islands have been  constructed. Site includes a 380 acre impoundment area, open water and  marsh and wildlife viewing areas. Deer, fox, coyote, muskrat, beaver,  otter, weasel and a large variety of bird species.


One of many fishing accesses along the river, this site has an accessible fishing ramp.


Eagle Run Trail - 6.8 miles - Biking, Hiking & Skiing Trail - Brochure & Map


Riverbank Park is located on the AuSable River near the River Road Bridge near the downtown Oscoda area. This 5.2-acre park offers accessible paved trails for bicycling and walking, vault restrooms, picnic tables and direct river access for swimming, fishing and canoe launching/take out purpose and gravel parking.


Oscoda BeachOscoda Beach Park is located on River Road on Lake Huron in Oscoda. This 9.6-acre park has approximately 1,000 feet of Lake Huron frontage and a variety of amenities. In addition to the public beach visitors may enjoy the basketball court, skate ramps, a wooden band shelter, shuffleboard court, an accessible pavilion, boardwalk, sunbathing deck, children’s play equipment, picnic tables and grills. The site has an accessible bath house with showers and restrooms. This park is home to the “Dock Reserve,” the historic site of a dock predating the Fire of 1911. This Park also hosts the Oscoda Art-on-the-Beach Arts and Crafts Show every summer.


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Last updated on:  January 27, 2022, Number of pages 417