There was nothing Pure Michigan about our experience yesterday -- it was not the picture of serenity that the images their website portray.
We thought we'd take our kids canoeing on the Platte (had looked into the Crystal River but was told it was not ideal for canoes -- and we were a family of four). The Platte River itself is gorgeous -- I would give it five stars. As for Riverside, the kids that worked there were nice and well-trained. But the rest of our experience was not up to my prior experiences elsewhere.First, there were a lot of inefficiencies. You go one place to let them know what you need. Then you go inside to pay. Then you go park your car and they pick you up from pull-out area. Then you come back with your paperwork to Riverside to get your boats (they don't give it to you until you're on the shuttle). Meanwhile, the kids are waiting with mom back at Riverside and getting very impatient. Finally dad comes back from parking and THEN they get your boat(s) ready. Seems like it could be far more efficient, even on a busy July Saturday.
As for being nickled-and-dimed, in addition to the canoe, we had to pay $6 extra for seats for the kids (cheap plastic chairs that they got at WalMart for probably $5). If you wanted kid-size play paddles for the kids, they we extra. Want to play at the beach at the outlet to Lake Michigan, it's an additional $5 to be able to leave your gear (but they're down there picking boats up all the time anyway). And yes, as one reviewer pointed out, they don't even shuttle you back like at other areas. You're left to do that yourself. We had three canoes and the total (without the kid-size paddles - we opted not to pay more for those) was $210!!! We could've rented a pontoon boat on Crystal Lake for that amount of money.
And then there's the crowds... never will we go again on a Saturday. I've been on the Platte River before and it was never this crowded. Lots of people. Lots. I'm fine with people drinking and partying -- it's summertime and the weekend -- and never found anyone too loud or any offensive language in front of the boys. The people on the river were quite conscientious of our young ones. It was tough getting around all of the tubers though. There were some big pods of tubers all tied together that would block the river at times (they move much slower than canoes). We'll do the Platte again -- like I said, it's a beautiful river. We just will do it using our own tubes (put in at El Dorado) and never on a Saturday. And we'll be investing our next $210 toward our own kayaks.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.