Rifle River Recreation Area is a wilderness area located 15 miles northeast of West Branch and almost 5 miles east of Rose City in the Ogemaw State Forest.


A modern campground is located on the north shore of Grousehaven Lake. The 80 site campground features a swimming beach, playground, boat launch and RV pumpout facility. There are three rustic campgrounds in the recreation area, with a total of 101 campsites. 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 handpumps. Rustic trailside cabins are available for rent at four locations within the park. Day use facilities with swimming beach and picnic areas are available to park visitors at Grousehaven Lake and Devoe Campground.


This area 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 known as the Rifle River Recreation Area.

Area Activities

The wilderness setting of Rifle River Recreation area is ideal for those who enjoy hunting or trapping. Ruffed grouse, ducks, geese, woodcock, rabbits, squirrel, raccoon, fox and deer may be hunted during their respective seasons. Beaver, otter, mink and muskrat are in abundance and may be trapped. Regulations may be obtained 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. For the fishing enthusiasts, there are ten scenic lakes that offer all types of fishing. Bluegills, 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 park headquarters. All lakes are closed to boats with motors.

For those who enjoy the more leisurely pusuits in the out-of-doors, the Park offers a picnic area, canoe launching sites, and plenty of space for nature study. There is an observation tower that gives sightseers a fantastic scenic view of the recreation area.

The 14 miles of pathways meandering throughout the park offer hiking, biking, cross country skiing and showshoeing. Numbered posts keyed to the map will help keep you oriented while on the pathways.

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 Iargo Springs.

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