Spectator Information

The AuSable River Canoe Marathon is considered the toughest spectator sport and preparation should not be taken lightly. Spectators should be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions, bugs, traffic, and thousands of other fans. Please read the Spectator Guide to help you prepare for your all night adventure.


  • Alcohol is prohibited on Consumers Energy property, including at the dams along the Marathon route.
  • No loitering will be allowed when crossing dams.
  • Park your vehicle in Grayling early Saturday for an easy get-a-way after the start of the race.
  • Please follow the directions of safety personnel and police officers at all times.
  • Please respect private property and ask permission prior to crossing.

Road and Bridge Closures

Crawford County – Stephan, Wakeley, and McMasters bridges will be closed to all vehicle traffic during the race. Spectator vehicles will not be allowed to cross the river at these bridges.

Oscoda County – Parmalee Bridge will be closed to spectators but passable for vehicles. No portable lighting will be available. If you are viewing the race from here, there are good sites along the campground on the north side or at the public access site on the south.

Mio Dam – Spectators are not allowed on the spillway. There is a walkway from the MDOT parking area, south of M-72, under the bridge to the dam. You will not have to walk across the highway to get to the dam. Spectators must stay clear of the pathway and the put-in areas as the teams portage Mio Dam.

4001 Bridge – The U.S. Forest Service may issue tickets for parking in the lot at the boat launch site without the valid parking pass.

Alcona Dam – Only feeders and officials will be allowed into the dam parking lot. Spectators should park in the field on the north side of the river and walk across the bridge to the portage area.

Loud Dam – There will only be parking for feeders on one side of the road leading to the dam. Only feeders and officials will be allowed into the dam parking lot.

Five Channels Dam – Pedestrians and vehicles will not be permitted on the new bridge, but spectators are allowed on the old bridge. Parking in the dam parking lot is for feeders only. Spectators can park in a large field at the top of the hill on the south side of the river.

Foote Dam – The Dam will be closed to spectators but you can view the race from the new fishing platforms across the river.

Whirlpool near Oscoda – Everyone must park in the parking lot, not at the boat launch. The U.S. Forest Service will issue tickets in this area.

Following the Race?

The list below contains items that will improve your spectator experience. Keep in mind that cell phone service along the course can be spotty and some areas have no service so plan accordingly.


  • AuSable River Course Map – Available in the Program Book or Spectator Guide, don’t rely entirely on your cell phone GPS…there are many points along the river with no service.
  • Appropriate Clothing – Conditions can change drastically, so be prepared for cold, rain and heat.
  • Lawn Chairs / Blanket – For seating while you wait for the teams
  • Cooler – Snacks and beverages may be tough to find in the middle of the night, so pack along a cooler with your favorites
  • Binoculars – Helpful for watching the teams from a distance and checking canoe numbers.
  • Flash Light – A flashlight may come in handy making your way from parking to various viewing areas.
  • Insect Repellent – This is Michigan and mosquitoes are big fans of the Marathon.
  • Personal Items – If you are following the entire race, you may want to soap, towel, toothbrush, toilet paper, etc. so you can freshen up for the finish.

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