The waves lapping on the shoreline. The babbling of a nearby creek. The sounds of water bond us with memories of the past, and dreams of the future. Life is sometimes muddy, and turbulent, but water washes away the stress of everyday life. 

As I discover the County around me, I am intrigued by the number of lakes, and the miles of river I see in my travels. Our community’s history tells tales of life on rivers and lakes. Harvesting ice, transporting logs, world class fishing and large earthen dams, the history connects our community, with this precious resource.

Some say that the County is named after the Chippewa chief who signed the Saginaw Treaty of 1819, and others say it’s derived from the Algonquin word for much water.

Newaygo County has 234 lakes, nearly 356 miles of rivers, and offers endless opportunities for water adventures. With my goal to Get Up, Get Out, Go Adventuring, Go Exploring I am discovering more about my community each day. I encourage everyone to take time to discover the community around you and appreciate what it has to offer.



Looking for a unique way to experience water in Newaygo County? Stop off at Flowing Wells, in White Cloud, where the pure waters flow. Pressurized water from underground aquifers create a grand focal point within the park.

In contrast to the soothing waters of the Flowing wells, visitors might seek the majestic views of the Croton and Hardy dams, both listed on National Register of Historic Places. These dams supply our communities and beyond with hydroelectricity, generated with the rapid movement of water through turbines.

The Hardy Dam’s grandeur stretches far beyond our small community. In fact, the Hardy Dam is the 3rd largest earthen dam in the world, and the largest east of the Mississippi River. The back waters of the Hardy Dam feature a reservoir, stretching nearly 4,000 Acres, while the Croton Dam towers over the river, standing 40ft tall, and generating electricity for over 110 years.

Visiting these locations gives you an opportunity for self-reflection. The experience envelops your senses. See the water pouring from the feature, hear the water rushing, feel the cool spring-fed water on your skin.

pontoon boat on lake


As life moves faster and faster, we are given a choice, do we stay in one place or go with the flow. Here in Newaygo County, we do just that. Grab a canoe, or a kayak, a paddleboard or a tube and head to the water.

Newaygo County paddlers can look forward to meandering across the amazing lakes, floating along the glistening waters of the Muskegon River or adventuring to the newly designated blue water trail of the White River. If you are looking for something more challenging, you may consider participating in canoe and kayak races like the Power Paddle or the Double Damn River Raid.

For those of us who wish for life to move a little slower, when you need to sit back and relax, letting your mind drift away, you will find time to unwind as you float, peacefully down the river. With various points to get on and come off the river you can go for a quick trip or spend all day on the river.

Don’t have the equipment? No worries there are several liveries throughout the county where you can rent equipment, making access to the water affordable to nearly everyone. Did you know many liveries will also pick you up and drive you, so there is no need to spot your car?



There is nothing more peaceful than spending the day in the water. Days when the weather is warm, the skies are bright blue and your fingers and toes begin to wrinkle, from being in the water too long. Newaygo County offers more than what we see on the surface. Discover a new world, underwater.

Swim with the fish, discover artifacts, and explore sunken vessels. Dive to the Whitney Bridge, snorkel in Diamond Lake, or splash in the current of the White River. You never know what you’ll discover. Whether you’re a professional diver or a hobbyist snorkeler, an adventure waits for you.



The sun glistens across the waters of inland lakes, and casts shadows on the rivers as the meander through the forests, beckoning captains to navigate the waterways, making memories that last a lifetime. From row boats to speed boats, for sporting or for leisure, Newaygo County offers a variety of boating opportunities. Access several of the great ponds and lakes by visiting a County Park. Race speed boats on the 4,000 acres of Hardy Pond, catch fish from a row boat on Pettibone Lake, or jet ski across the blue waters of Diamond Lake. Thrill seekers can wakeboard, waterski, and tube on one of the All Sports Lakes; Socialites can join other boaters at events like Dam Nation and Hot Boat; and Sportsmen can charter fishing guides along the Muskegon River.



The big catch, the one that got away, and limiting out, the fish tales of Newaygo County are endless. From shore, or bridge, from a boat, or waist deep, anglers can find their perfect spot to cast a line. With the variety of fishing experiences available, fishermen can find a place to drop a line in

Salmon, Crappie, Suckers, Trout, Bluegill, Walleye and Bass are a few varieties that anglers can try their hand at catching. Enjoy world-class fishing on a chartered boat, cast a line from shore, drop a line in below the of the dam, or paddle or to the drop off in your favorite fishing hole.

The season isn’t over when the snow begins to fly. Try your hand at ice fishing, and compete against family, friends and strangers at the Dam to Dam Ice Fishing Tournament. Ed Henning County Park even offers anglers the opportunity to access the Muskegon River, with a year-round, maintained boat launch and parking area.

Listen, and you will hear the water around you, urging you for one more float down the river, one more dive below the surface, one more ride across the waves, one more perfect cast, one more walk along the water. So, be sure to stop by Newaygo County and soak in all that it has to offer. 

by Whitney Barnes

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