Indian River is at the center of everything Northern Michigan has to offer and is a cherished vacation destination. Indian River is named after the river which flows through it nestled between Burt Lake and Mullet Lake along the 40 mile long Inland Waterway. Located conveniently off I-75, 25 miles south of the Mackinaw Bridge. Indian River is not an incorporated municipality, the boundaries were defined by the U.S. Census Bureau in consultation with local organizations and officials. However, the area included within the CDP may not exactly correspond with the area which locals recognize by that name. The CDP occupies the eastern half of Tuscarora Township. The Indian River ZIP code 49749 includes most of the CDP as well additional areas of both Tuscarora and Koehler townships and portions of Burt Township, Mullett Township, and Aloha Township to the north and Mentor Township and Ellis Township to the south.
Indian River is situated at the point where the Sturgeon River flows into Burt Lake and where the Indian River flows out of Burt Lake into Mullett Lake. I-75 passes through the area with two interchanges nearby. Mackinaw City and the Mackinac Bridge are about 25 miles to the north, and Gaylord is 28 miles to the south. Cheboygan is about 21 miles to the northeast on M-27. M-68 connects with US 31 at Alanson, 11 miles to the west and with M-33 about 9 miles to the east. The Indian River provides a navigable channel between Burt and Mullett lakes.
Burt Lake State Park is a popular State Campground that draws numerous tourists each year. The local economy is partially based on summer and winter travelers, who take part in the watersports, fishing, ORV riding snowmobiling, hunting, and camping. The North Central State Trail goes through the town. The National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods, an open-air sanctuary, is located in Indian River and dedicated to Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.
J. Clark, filed a claim for 152 acres of what is now Indian River in 1879. Michigan Central Railway made Indian River a stop in the late 1880’s. Bringing tourists and supplies to, and from, the area.