Growing up near Standish, I took the area for granted.ï¿½ My parents own a canoe livery and campgrounds nearby and I always marveled at all of the tourists that would descend on the area every weekend, filling the canoe liveries, campgrounds, bars, restaurants, etc.ï¿½ It is only once you get out on the Rifle River itself on a perfect July day that you remember why people come.ï¿½ Many think that there are only summer attractions in the area, but that isn’t the case.ï¿½ Standish makes the perfect headquarters for a weekend getaway in the area.ï¿½ It is a wonderful location from which to explore the quaint Michigan towns of Pinconning, Omer, AuGres, Tawas, and West Branch.
Winter Attractions –
Ice Fishing –
Ice fishing is a winter staple all along the Saginaw Bay.ï¿½ Near Standish, your best bet would be to head 14 miles north to the port city of AuGres.ï¿½ It is truly a harbor town and many locals spend a good share of the winter fishing out on the ice.ï¿½ On the way north, it is best to stop at a supply store such as Frank’s Bait and Tackle in Linwood along M-13 in order to get a feel for conditions further north.ï¿½ They also have an incredible array of outdoor supplies (they specialize in fishing).ï¿½ It is extremely important to check on ice conditions in the area.ï¿½ Areas on the bay do not always freeze sufficiently and ice fishing can be extremely treacherous in thaw conditions.
Nevertheless, ice fishing can be rewarding and a great weekend getaway for you and your buddies.
Snowmobiling is another area winter staple.ï¿½ There is a lot of public land in the area that makes for a unique, interesting ride.ï¿½ Be sure to stay off marked private property and avoid frozen water in the area (rivers for example).ï¿½ Even though you might see snowmobile tracks on the ice on the Rifle River, it does not mean that it is safe for you to travel over with your snowmobile.ï¿½ However, locals do drive the river frequently once it is frozen solid.ï¿½ In fact, they used to have a snowmobiling event call the Old Timers Run that actually ran the river.ï¿½ Again, I certainly don’t recommend this unless you have had a lot of previous experience snowmobiling in the area.
Also, please be aware of railroad tracks in the area during whiteout conditions.ï¿½ My Dad actually had a very close call duringï¿½ a heavy snowstorm as a result.ï¿½ There can be times when it is snowing so heavily that you are unable to see the train lights – and it can be difficult to hear the train whistles over the roar of a bunch of snowmobile engines.
There are good sledding hills in the area if you truly know where to look.ï¿½ Many are in Sterling (approximately 7 miles from Standish – take M-76 out of Standish and you’ll be in the middle of the village of Sterling) and may be on private property.ï¿½ It is advised to ask for further information before heading out for a day on the hills.ï¿½ There are public sledding areas nearby.ï¿½ Unfortunately, I grew up with a sledding hill in my backyard.ï¿½ As a result, I am unable to provide specific information.ï¿½ People in either Standish or Sterling would be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Cross-Country Skiing –
If you have cross-country skis, you are in luck!ï¿½ There are several seasonal roads in the area that lend themselves to an impromptu cross-country skiing trail.ï¿½ Seasonal roads are dirt roads that aren’t necessarily passable by car in the winter.ï¿½ For example, Jose Road (turn left onto Grove Road off of US-23 in Standish, travel 6 – 6.5 miles; Jose Road is fairly well-marked; simply turn left) is one such road that is not heavily traveled even in the summer.ï¿½ It would make a great cross-country trip through the woods in the Omer Plains.
Winter Wolf Run 2007ï¿½ –
Are you a runner looking for something completely different?ï¿½ Look no further than Omer’s Witchy Wolf Run events.ï¿½ This series of runs were created back in 2005 and have become a truly unique series of events for Michigan’s smallest city.ï¿½ During the winter, the Winter Wolf Run is held.ï¿½ This year, it will be held during the full moon of January 20th, 2007.ï¿½ That’s right.ï¿½ The races (the Witchy Wolf Run, the Iron Wolf, and the Winter Wolf) are all held at night and in the deep woods of the infamous Omer Plains.ï¿½ Please see the website for more information.ï¿½ An article describing the legend of the Witchy Wolves is forthcoming.ï¿½ It is an old Chippewa legend concerning the Omer Plains.
Perchville 2007 – Tawas Area – February
The festival is in its 57th year and is all about the fishing.ï¿½ This festival includes a parade, a polar bear swim, an ice softball exhibition, a beer tent, a kids tent, and much, much more.ï¿½ Please keep checking the website for details.ï¿½ For those unfamiliar with the Tawases (it includes Tawas City, East Tawas, and Tawas Bay), it is a scenic resort community right on Tawas Bay (which is a small bay on Lake Huron) and is approximately 35 miles from Standish.ï¿½ Tawas is right off of scenic US-23 (Standish happens to be located where US-23 and I-75 split; if you travel on US-23 north from Standish, you will travel through Omer, AuGres, and then reach Tawas).ï¿½ This festival is pretty well-known and is a great way to experience the Michigan winter.ï¿½ There is no doubt about it, Perchville is a party and is largely about the beer.
As you can see, there are plenty of outdoor activities in the Standish area during the winter.ï¿½ Standish is uniquely situated to allow those wishing to head north the opportunity to experience several small communities within an easy driving distance.ï¿½ Many view Standish as a “pit-stop” on the way north due to its numerous gas stations and fast-food restaurants.ï¿½ However, it is Standish’s unique location (just off of I-75, along US-23, M-13, M-61, and M-76) that provides travelers with lots of options – even in the winter.