Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center


Area Status: Open
Image of Visitor Center

Welcome to the Ottawa National Forest! Start your visit to the Forest with a trip to the Ottawa Visitor Center, here you will find recreation information, maps, and much more. The facility is packed with interpretive exhibits and animal mounts explaining the Forest's natural and cultural history. We offer a large selection of educational videos to be viewed in our auditorium; Thursday Evening Programs throughout the summer months; group conservation education programs, upon advanced request; as well as an interpretive nature trail. The Visitor Center and interpretive trail are fully accessible, and no fees are charged for admission to the Center, or to attend our interpretive programming.

Available at the Ottawa Visitor Center:

  • Forest Information
  • Visitor/Recreation Information
  • Forest Product Permits (Please call ahead for availability of permits.)
  • Interagency Passes
  • Potable water is available through the bathroom faucet
  • Interpretive exhibits and ¼ mile trail
  • Auditorium
  • Children's classroom

Phone number: 906-358-4724

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The Bear Den is permanently closed.
Operational Hours: Winter hours (September-May): 8-4 CT, Monday – Friday, excluding federal holidays.
Due to low staffing levels, it is recommended that you call ahead to ensure it will be open: 906-358-4724
Area Amenities: Interpretive Site, Accessible, Toilets, Parking
Fees: No fees are charged for admission to the Visitor Center, or to attend our interpretive programming.
Permit Info: Firewood, Balsam Bough, and Christmas Tree Permits are available at this location.  Please call ahead for availability of permits.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: January-December
Busiest Season: May-September
Closest Towns: Ironwood, MI, is 46 miles to the west and Iron River, MI, is 30 miles to the east. Houghton, MI, is 68 miles to the north. Land O Lakes WI is 8 miles south, Eagle River WI is 26 miles south
Water: Drinking
Restroom: Yes
Passes: You can purchase your Interagency Pass's at this location.
Operated By: Ottawa National Forest

General Information

Directions:

Located at E23949 US 2 East, Watersmeet, MI; at the intersection of US Highway 45 and US 2.  Access to the site is on US 2, east of the 4-way stop.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Day Hiking

The Visitor Center Interpretive Trail is a short, paved, loop trail, approximately 1/4 of a mile in length.  The trail is relatively flat with a few gradual inclines.  The trail winds through a mixed forest type with numerous interpretive signs and signs that identify tree species.  Visitors can also take a "Trees along the Trail" pamphlet to help identify the different species of trees encountered on the trail.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Visitor Programs

Photo:  Visitor Center DisplayOur large, 70 person capacity, auditorium is airconditioned in the summer and heated in the winter; perfect for getting out of the elements. There are over 100 educational videos to choose from upon request and range in length from a few minutes to a few hours. You can also schedule in advance for a group outing!

Join us weekly during the summer for our Thursday Evening Program series, generally from late May through August. Thursday evening programs feature a new topic each week and last approximately one hour. Topics in the past have included wildlife, photography, history, weather, and forest management. 

Upon advanced request, we can also provide conservation education programming for your group. To request conservation education programming for your group, call 906-358-4724. There is no charge to participate in any of these activities.

Educational Video List - pdf

Interpretive Areas

The facility is packed with interpretive exhibits and animal mounts.  Learn about the natural resources, the history of the area, and the people who call this area home.  An extensive collection of animal mounts give the visitor glimpses of the many species that make their home in the wild and remote area of the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Interactive displays provide learning activities for visitors of all ages.  Try the "Scavenger Hunt" for a rewarding challenge.  Fully accessible, there is also an audio tour available upon request.

Visitor Centers

Photo:  Visitor Center DisplayOpen to the public since May 1971, the mission of the Center is to foster understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the natural, cultural, recreational, and wilderness resources of the Ottawa National Forest.  Through interpretive programs and displays, our goal is to help build public understanding and appreciation of our natural resources that will lead to safe, wise and caring use of the Forest.  The Visitor Center and interpretive trail and fully accessible, and no fees are charged for admission to the Center, or to attend our interpretive programming.

Permit: You can obtain Firewood, Balsam Bough, and Christmas Tree Permits at this location.  Please call ahead for availability of permits.

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Photo:  Interpretive TrailOur interpretive trail is not just for the hiking enthusiast!  Winter is a beautiful time to explore the forest.  We have a small selection of snowshoes available for use on the property, free of charge.  This is a great way to experience the snow-covered forest.  Snowshoes are provided by the Ottawa Interpretive Association.  Please call us at 906-358-4724 for availability and sizes.

Warming Shelters None
Base Conditions Not Groomed
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Amenities

Interpretive Site: Interpretive Trail 1/4 mile in length; Interpretive displays and programming
Parking: Paved Parking Lot
Toilets: Indoor
Accessible: Ramp and accessible doors lead to the Visitor Center

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
46.261883

  Longitude : 
-89.176947