Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

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.

Also located within the Center is the "Bear's Den" sales outlet, operated jointly by the USDA-Forest Service and the Ottawa Interpretive Association.  The "Bear's Den" offers many environmental books, Ottawa apparel, unique gifts and other nature-related items for purchase.  Proceeds from these sales, after expenses, go back to the Ottawa National Forest in the form of grants for interpretive projects around the Ottawa.

Available at the Ottawa Visitor Center:

2019 Summer Program Brochure - pdf

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Summer Hours:  Open daily, 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. (CDT)  Open until 8:00 p. m. on Thursdays for evening programs.  Winter Hours:  Monday - Friday, 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. (CST) 
Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Accessible,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,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.
Open Season: Closed until further notice
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.
Water: Drinking
Restroom: Yes
Passes: You can purchase your Interagency Pass's at this location.
Operated By: Ottawa National Forest

General Information


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



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Day Hiking

The Visitor Center Interpretive Trail is a short, paved, loop trail, approximately 4/10 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

Outdoor Learning

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Winter Sports

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Picnic tables 4 accessible tables located on lawn in front of the Visitor Center
Drinking water Yes
Interpretive Site Interpretive Trail 4/10 mile in length; Interpretive displays and programming
Toilets Indoor
Parking Paved Parking Lot
Accessible Ramp and accessible doors lead to the Visitor Center