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Welcome to Big Rapids

Big Rapids has always been known as the tubing capital of Michigan. Each summer 1000s of vacationers come to the Muskegon River to enjoy a float down the river which drops over 25 feet through Big Rapids, creating a pleasant but exciting ride. North End Riverside Park on the West side and Hemlock Park on the East side of the river provide excellent launching points for these excursions.

These parks are also joined by Riverwalk, a trail accessible for all, extending for 5 miles through the community with historic and naturalistic signage along the scenic route. Wildflowers in the spring and fall color make this trail the most visited site in the region. Riverwalk is an extension of the Frederick Meijer White Pines Trail system of the State of Michigan when extends from Grand Rapids to Traverse City. The section from Big Rapids to Cadillac is paved, providing wonderful, handicapped access to the Muskegon River region.

In addition to these distinctive parks, the City recently added Clay Cliffs Nature Park to the system. Clay Cliffs is a 50 acre preserve with foot-worn trails and untended woods great for the adventurer. Native species of plants and animals, including a few on the endangered lists inhabit this preserve. Purchased in 2011, this acreage is a haven for the naturalist.

A second factor that separates Big Rapids, is its attention to the Arts. This emphasis is anchored in the downtown Art Works. This storefront combines sales of local art products with an array of educational opportunities to learn art, dance, ceramics and a host of other genres. A bandshell built in the park and a pergola downtown are the site of summer musical events each week during summer. The fall season brings Tuba Back, a 6 week professional concert series. The winter sees a month long Festival of the Arts in which some artistic event occurs each day in February. All of these are just the beginning of the possibilities that are available to the resident and visitor of the City.

The economic engine that drives Big Rapids, however, is Ferris State University. The fastest growing public university in Michigan over the past 10 years, Ferris offers a practical education. Majors include such diverse degrees including: HVAC, Automotive repair, Heavy equipment operation, golf management, optometry and pharmacy. The student graduating from Ferris is ready to find a job in the marketplace, not just have broadened their philosophy of life!!

In Big Rapids, we reflect this same practical view welcoming new residents and students to the community. Our innovative approach to government always maintains looks to create the best quality of life based on the needs of growing families. We hope that you will join us both in person and through the medium and magic of this website. We welcome you to Big Rapids.

Stephen J. Sobers - City Manager