Kayaking in Wisconsin

Let’s start with the most famous body of water that anyone planning on kayaking in Wisconsin shouldn’t miss out on: the Wisconsin River.

Wisconsin is a state packed with rivers, lakes, and streams, most notable of which is the Wisconsin River. In this article, I’ll tell you about the particular experience of the latter, and the Wisconsin River kayaking experience in general, so hang on!

Wisconsin River Kayaking

Let’s start with the most famous body of water that anyone planning on kayaking in Wisconsin shouldn’t miss out on: the Wisconsin River.

Spanning a little over 420 miles, the river begins from the state’s border with Michigan in the north, takes a westward hook in the south to flow to join the Mississippi. This is why you can enjoy the river in many ways, states, and for varying purposes.

If you’re looking for a quiet yet wild experience, you should go for the lower riverway, which is undammed and protected. This part has a sandy bottom with a couple of hang-ups, no rapids, and no portages. This means that whether you’re a novice or an expert kayaker, you’ll be able to enjoy paddling in the area as well as the river’s unique sand bars, where you can set up a camp as there aren’t designated sites, permits, or fees.

And the best part, you can choose to paddle for a few hours and up to a few weeks thanks to the multiple landings and the front country access that the river offers you. This allows people to join others mid-trip at certain access points and then leave whenever suits them.

Most of the time, you won’t have to put in much effort when it comes to paddling as the strong currents and flow will carry you. If you’re looking for some solitude and to enjoy a wild retreat, you should stick to the far area of the downriver and steer clear from weekends as it can get quite crowded around them.

Stretching 25 miles, paddling through the Wisconsin River is a truly captivating experience. And even though you can hear the road at a point or two, you’ll feel secluded most of the time and able to enjoy the hardwoods, horizons, sandy shores, and huge bluffs that tower over the river.

Kayaking in Wisconsin According to Location

Wisconsin is a pretty huge state, and according to various locations, you’ll be able to enjoy different types of water, and in this section, I break it down for you.

The Northwest Region

The Northwest Region Kayak

Flowing into the St. Croix, the Namekagon river is near Hayward and gives you 90 miles to paddle through. It has some riffles, which make it a good choice for camping trips that span multiple days.

Also, there’s the Bois Brule, which runs north instead of south -as most rivers in Wisconsin do- and which gives you 40 miles to navigate.

The Southwest Region

The Southwest Region Kayak

The Kickapoo is a popular river that you can find in the Driftless Area, and it runs 22 miles to La Farge from Ontario.

There’s also a flat river with a couple of riffles, several turns, limestone cliffs, and sandstone bluffs known by the name of Grant, but it also goes by the name “Baby Kickapoo.” You can paddle 30 miles, and at Potosi, it enters the Mississippi.

The Central Region

The Central Region Kayak

North of Mauston, Juneau, there’s a river with some crooks called the Lemonwier River. With plenty of twists and turns that span over 50 miles, you’ll enjoy an adventurous ride until you end up into the Wisconsin River.

Near Princeton, you can find the Mecan in the center of the state, with an upper stretch where you can enjoy top-notch trout fishing.

The South Central Region

The South Central Region Kayak

Not too far away from Verona, the Sugar River flows south to the Pecatonica River’s junction. You should make sure to try the Dane County burg of Paoli where you can stop for some snacks and ice cream and the old limestone mill.

What to Pack on a Kayaking Trip?

If you’re going on a kayaking trip over the weekend, there are a couple of essentials that you should make sure to bring along, which are as follows:

  • Coolers filled with ice to preserve cold drinks and fresh food.
  • Charcoal and firewood for when you set camp on a bank.
  • A folding table with camp chairs that you can use to kick back and relax.
  • A lantern for illumination, a dual-burner stove, a folding camp oven, or a dutch oven to have a freshly-cooked meal.
  • Plenty of fresh water to keep yourself hydrated throughout your trip.
  • Coolers in which you can keep and store any fish you catch in the case that you’re fishing in a kayak.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to set out on an adventure in the Wisconsin River or other streams, rivers, and creeks around the Wisconsin state, you’ll definitely find a spot that you can enjoy and which suits your skills and purposes.