Outfitters in and around Somerset provide rentals and transportation for this popular tubing river. The first half of the trip offers relaxed family floating. The last half features a wild rapids area with a walkway on the side for the less adventurous.
Offers a relaxing outing with no rapids or falls. Portages are necessary at three dams. The lower stretches flow through two wildlife areas to its mouth on the Wisconsin River. Access is available at road crossings.
Tranquil and unspoiled, with good opportunities to see wildlife. Much of the 25-mile course passes through the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Reservation. Upper portions narrow with steady current through pine forests; lower stretch passes through Powell Marsh narrowing again
before joining the Manitowish River as it enters the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. Low hazard riffles. Several access points off town roads.
While the upper portions are considered too rocky for navigation, canoeing is popular on the central stretch through Jackson and Clark counties. From Hall's Creek Landing, 13.5 miles north of Black River Falls, the river flows through quiet forests to a landing above the dam
at Black River Falls. Below the dam, put in at the landing on First Street and enjoy a gorgeous 30-mile ride to New Amsterdam. Canoe rentals are readily available along the route. The current is slow and access is available at road crossings.
Bois Brule River
World-famous for trout fishing, scenery and exciting rapids. Trips can start at Stone's Bridge (Hwy S) and proceed upstream or downstream. Upstream, there are no rapids. Downstream trips can end at landings near Hwy B, the ranger station, or at Hwy 2. The rapids between Hwy B and Hwy 2 are more difficult than those found above Hwy B. Trips beyond Hwy 2 require another day to reach the river's mouth on Lake Superior. Note: A section below the Hwy 2 bridge contains dangerous rapids which no party should attempt unless accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. There are two state forest campgrounds located along the river.
A boundary river between Wisconsin and Michigan with long stretches of slow water and low hazard rapids. Numerous streams flow into the river, and access is available at county and forest service roads. Below Brule River Dam and at the junction where the Michigamme joins the Brule to become the Menominee, the rapid increase in current combined with huge waves can potentially swamp an open craft.
Rich in history and scenic beauty, the river is navigable for most of its length to its mouth on the Mississippi. Water levels fluctuate and should be checked locally. Access is available at road crossings. Note:Some rather long portages may be necessary.
One of the best whitewater trips in the Midwest. The north fork provides the most stable water flow. Its upper reaches are slower and easier to paddle; the southern sections provide the challenge of rapids and whitewater. The most traveled stretch is from Nine Mile Creek to
Ladysmith. Nine Mile Creek is near Hwy 70 where the North Fork flows into the Flambeau River State Forest. There are campsites and landings along the way, so a trip can last a few hours or a week. The Upper Flambeau above Nine Mile Creek and the stretch below Ladysmith to its
junction with the Chippewa are also canoeable. Access is available at road crossings, impoundments, and old logging roads.
Flows across central and east-central Wisconsin to Green Bay. The current is slow with large areas of lake and marsh paddling above Lake Butte des Morts. Access is available at many parks along the river. The Fox is navigable below Lake Winnebago, but recreational boat traffic is
Winds through deep valleys bounded by rocky ledges and high bluffs. One-hour to three-day trips available. Frequent rapids (class I), but minimal portaging. Wide variety of wildlife and timber. Sixteen access points.
Known as "the crookedest river in the world," the Kickapoo is navigable its entire length from just north of Ontario to the Wisconsin River at Wauzeka. This popular river offers access at numerous road crossings. Rentals are available locally. The current is relaxing, but be prepared
to portage several dams and an occasional fallen tree.
La Crosse River
Meandering through natural wetlands and native prairies on its way to the Mississippi River, the La Crosse River provides the canoe and kayak enthusiast with 15-1/2 miles of scenic beauty from Sparta to Rockland. This spring-fed river allows for ample water supply year 'round. The
presence of an abundance of wildlife contributes to this enjoyable two-hour excursion. The official canoe landing in Sparta is located across from Fisherman's Park and a county landing is located east of Rockland at Sixth Drive. Further west, the thirteen miles from the West Salem Dam to Riverside Park in La Crosse travels through tall pine stands, small rapids and the La Crosse River Marsh. Access sites include two county landings and Veterans Memorial Park. Rental canoes are available in the area.
Navigable from western Juneau County (Hwy H) to it's mouth on the Wisconsin River. The current is generally moderate to slow, and portages are necessary at two dams. A number of sloughs near the mouth make it difficult to keep on the main channel.
Little Fox River
This slow-current waterway meanders from southeastern Wisconsin into Illinois. Access is available at county and state highway crossings. Several dams must be portaged.
Lower Wisconsin River
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River at Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands. The southern 92 miles of the river are attractive for family outings as there are no dams to portage. Access and canoe rentals are available at many towns along the way.
Lower Wolf River
Although it has a steady current and wild appearance, the lower Wolf lacks the rough water characteristics of its upper stretches. Public landings are located in Shawano, Shioton and New London. In the New London area, beginners can rent fiberglass canoes and tubes for family
fun on both the Wolf and Little Wolf rivers. A trip down the lower Wolf can be continued through Lakes Poygan and Butte des Morts to Lake Winnebago. The river is well-known for spring walleye and white bass fishing.
A river for variety and fun. Flowing from Presque Isle in Vilas County, through Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters, to the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage in Iron County. The upper portion connects 25 lakes including the famous Manitowish Chain of Lakes. With numerous access points and boat landings, and more than fifty campsites, paddlers can design trips of any length. Downstream the lower portion is steady current flowing through beautiful north country into the flowage. Great opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially eagles. Low to medium-hazard rapids and riffles. Canoe rentals and access maps available locally.
A boundary river separating Wisconsin and Michigan. The upper stretch offers fast water and difficult rapids. Many rapids and dams must be portaged. Portions of the upper river are extremely dangerous and should only be run by experts in decked boats. The lower river has a slower current with some low-hazard rapids.
Flows along a scenic route into the City of Milwaukee. It features a number of low-level rapids. Several dams must be portaged during low water, travel can be difficult due to exposed boulders and bars. Access is available at parks and dams. In the city, the adventurous may canoe
or kayak from below North Avenue to the mouth of the harbor, but access points are few for small craft (none from the new Riverwalk system).
Though not traditionally a canoeing river due to its varied currents and heavy commercial traffic, the river includes two canoe/kayak trails in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, La Crosse District. Maps to the Long Lake Canoe Trail near Trempealau and the Goose Island Canoe Trail near La Crosse are available by calling the La Crosse District headquarters at 608-783-8405.
Montreal River, West Branch
One of the Midwest's most challenging whitewater rivers under high water conditions. Site of the 1994 ICF Junior World Championships. Water levels fluctuate greatly by season. Class II to Class V rapids and numerous falls. Lower portion flows through 300-foot-deep Montreal River
Canyon. Take out at Hwy 122 near Lake Superior. Note: This river has not been officially surveyed. For expert paddlers only. Low water conditions make water impassable.
Known for camping and fishing, the Namekagon provides lake and river paddling with some low hazard rapids. Low water is the chief obstacle, and levels should be checked locally. Access is available at towns (Cable, Seeley, Hayward, and Trego) and road crossings.
Can be paddled its entire length. The northernmost section above Chute Pond (south of Mountain) features 15 rated rapids. Water levels must be medium high or above and should be checked locally. Because of difficult whitewater and obstacles, this section should not be attempted by a novice. The river below Chute Pond continues moderately to its mouth in
The Pecatonica River and the west branch of the Pecatonica both offer a mild current and picturesque scenery including farmland, wood lots and marsh. There is no rough water, but it may be necessary to skirt an occasional fallen tree. The current slows below the junction of the
rivers near Browntown.
The upper portion flows through beautiful Nicolet National Forest and has some of the most difficult whitewater in the midwest. The river above Caldron Falls Reservoir (Hwy C) has long and difficult rapids that require a high degree of skill. Water levels should be medium high or
above. Below Crivitz, the river slows and widens in sharp contrast to its previous character. Reservoirs on the central river provide lake paddling.
Pine River (NE Wisconsin)
A state-designated wild river, the Pine courses through some of the most primitive areas in the Nicolet National Forest. Spring and early summer are the best times to plunge in as water levels drop significantly in the summer. Several rapids challenge the paddler and a few require portaging. For more information, contact the Nicolet National Forest at 715-362-1300.
Pine River (SW Wisconsin)
Popular for a relaxing trip. The upper river meanders through farmland while the lower stretch flows through a wildlife area to its mouth on the Wisconsin River. Access is available at Richland Center and a number of county roads.
Navigable from Ellenboro to the Mississippi River. Frequent changes from quiet water to rapids (Class I). One-hour to two-day trips available. Eleven access points.
A state designated wild river, the Popple is a river of contrasts as it flows through the Nicolet National Forest. Long stretches of still waters are interrupted by short, exciting rapids. Best water levels occur in the spring and early summer. For more information, contact the
Nicolet National Forest at 715-362-1300.
Red Cedar River
The Red Cedar runs 60 miles from Chetek to the Chippewa River below Menomonie. The upper 20 miles are relatively shallow and wide with a brisk current and lots of islands -- an ideal float trip for novices and families. The lower 15 miles parallel the Red Cedar State Bike Trail.
Fishing is good all along the river. Access is available at numerous county parks. Canoe rentals are offered at many towns along the river.
Meanders through massive wetlands and shallow lakes amidst the rich farmland and picturesque glacial terrain of Dodge, Jefferson and Rock Counties. The Rock River begins in the famous Horicon Marsh and flows through both Lakes Sinissippi and Koshkonong on its way to the
Mississippi River. Access points at many road crossings and in Horicon, Watertown, Fort Atkinson, Janesville, and Beloit. The current is relaxing, but be prepared to portage several dams and an occasional fallen tree.
The river flows from the Sheboygan Broughton Marsh to Lake Michigan. Navigable waters begin at the Marsh and flow well over 25 miles to Lake Michigan. It is necessary to portage several dams and falls. The Pigeon, Mullet and Onion Rivers (all tributaries of the Sheboygan) can be
paddled at high water.
St. Croix River
Designated a "National Scenic River," it combines smooth water and low to medium-hazard rapids and is navigable from its source at Solon Springs to its mouth on the Mississippi River. There is, however, a dam and portage at St. Croix Falls. The lower portion (below St. Croix
Falls) is open to commercial traffic.
Flows gently through forested riverbanks in the rich farmlands of southern Wisconsin. Enjoy three wildlife areas enroute. Two dams must be portaged on the upper river; the Albany Dam has a stairway, while the Decatur Dam can be by-passed to Broadhead by using the mill race
waterway. The upper river is open with clearance around log jams. The lower river from the Highway 11 bridge to the state line is navigable, but be prepared to portage fallen trees.
Offers a medium to fast current including two difficult rapids on the lower stretches of the river. Access is available at dams and road crossings.
A relatively unknown and unspoiled river flowing 27 miles through Iron County lakes and wilderness into the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage at Lake of the Falls. Some Class II to III rapids that may require portaging depending on water levels. Portage at Shay's Dam Falls is required.
Numerous public access points and state and county campsites.
Waupaca Chain O' Lakes
A popular area for beginners. Lake paddling is available on any of the 23 connecting lakes in the Chain. For family fun, rent a canoe from area outfitters and enyoy a meandering ride down the Crystal River. The nearby Waupaca River flows gently past farms to its junction with the
Lower Wisconsin River
The upper Wisconsin offers some good sections for canoeing, but it is dammed up at many locations. The last dam on the Wisconsin is at Prairie du Sac so only the lower Wisconsin offers the opportunity for a long canoe camping excursion. This section of the Wisconsin is constantly braiding itself into multiple channels around large wooded islands. At times it is hard to know whether you are passing an island or the main bank, as there are so many of the former. If you prefer a shorter trip, there are good access points at or near most bridges, so you can tailor the length of the trip to suit your needs. Depending on the flow of the Wisconsin, you may have to drag your feet a bit to stretch this into a week long trip, but you will surely enjoy the scenery and great camping.
Upper Wisconsin River
The upper Wisconsin (Vilas and Oneida Counties to Merrill) is a relaxing way to view the natural beauty of the Northwoods. Winding through forest and farmland, the majority of the river offers a slow current with few obstacles. There is one portage at the Rainbow Lake Dam. Rainbow Rapids offer some excitement, but the rocks are usually submerged. For more information. contact the Wisconsin DNR station in Rhinelander at 715-362-7616.
Offers variety, with relatively calm upper stretches to exciting whitewater below Lily. The stretch below Lily is recommended for experienced paddlers and is also popular for whitewater rafting. Area outfitters provide canoe and raft rentals. Access is available at road crossings with possible take-out near Markton and Hwy M before enteringthe Menominee Indian Reservation. Note: Regulations on paddling beyond Markton should be checked locally.
Flows from Madison's lakes to the Rock River. Access is available on either Lake Mendoata or Lake Monona, and along the river are road crossings. Locks lead through the series of lakes, and some dams need portaging. The current is slow and additional portages may be necessary
during low water.
Stream and lake paddling with a slow to moderate current and a few gentle rapids. Access is available at numerous road crossings and public landings. Note: Aquatic growth may hinder navigation in mid-summer.
Wisconsin Canoeing and Kayaking Rivers