Michigan State Parks: Bass River Recreation Area

Two people by a sign

Bass River Recreation Area comprises more than 1,600 acres in west Michigan.

This vast area of primarily undeveloped land sits south of I-96 just northwest of the town of Allendale.

While popular with the locals, this isn’t a park that draws many widespread visitors due to its somewhat remote location and lack of amenities.

Watersports activities

Boating on a river

With three miles of frontage along the Grand River, Bass River Recreation Area is popular with boaters. There is a boat launch available, but it is an unimproved gravel lot and dock.

At this section, the river has actually formed a smaller body of water that runs alongside the park. Boaters actually enter here before making their way out to the main river.

The shallow area along the shore is great for floating in a tube since it doesn’t have the same current as the main river. We saw plenty of people doing just this on the warm summer weekend we visited. It also seemed to be popular for casual fishing.

Fishing and no-wake watercraft opportunities also are available on the 300-acre Max Lake that sits inland.

Boat launch

Mixed-use trails

For those who prefer the woods, six miles of mixed-use trails run through the park. The trails are shared for mountain biking, equestrian, and hiking. There are a few different loop options with varying lengths and obstacles.

Man mountain biking

No facilities, no fuss

The biggest thing to note at Bass River Recreation Area is that there are no facilities of any kind, not even vault toilets. You’ll need to be sure to pack in and pack out anything you bring with you.

The park is accessible from each end via gravel roads but is not well marked and GPS systems may find it difficult to locate. We advise looking at the map and exact location online before arriving.

Bass River Recreation Area may not have a lot of frills, but for some people, that’s the exact reason they like to visit!


We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. We have a video about Bass River Recreation Area here. You can follow us on Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. Plus, you can see our progress as we visit each park on this interactive Google Map. You also can keep track of our activities on social media with the hashtags #hikecampgo and #mistateparks100.

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