The River of a Thousand Isles
What It's Like
You might not know it yet but you've found it, the perfect river! The Lower Wisconsin River provides an experience for canoers and kayakers that many people look for their whole lives. The Wisconsin River is 435 miles long with all of the great parts about it in the last 92 miles. In Prairie du Sac the Wisconsin River tumbles over the last dam of 22, which is why the Wisconsin River is called by many the "hardest working river in the country." From Prairie du Sac all the way down to the Mississippi River it's 92 miles of wide shallow meandering river, tree lined shores, bluffs near and far, huge sand bars to camp/swim/fish from and the further down river you roam the fewer people you'll see along the way.
Ballparking a Distance to Paddle
The current of the Wisconsin River moves along at a pleasant 3 mph. So, as you're trying to figure out how many miles you want to paddle we make the suggestion of first figuring out how many hours you intend to paddle over the course of your trip (while many of you may say, "oh, we'll paddle 7 hours a day." Keep in mind that we're talking in your canoe and on the water, not hanging on a sand bar. As you plan your trip we want, and need, you to finish what you start. We'd rather you came off the river saying you wish you'd done more. Most people figure they'll paddle between 3-5 hours per day). To figure out a starting point for the distance you'll paddle, take the total number of hours you intend to paddle over your trip and multiply by 3 mph and you've got an idea of how many miles you'll be looking to set up.
We are blessed on the Wisconsin River with the fact that we have boat landings roughly every 8 miles. While we don't run trips between all of the boat landings, we have the trip that will be perfect for you within a few miles. Check out Google Maps to familiarize yourself with the Lower Wisconsin River and our put-ins and take outs. We've worked hard to provide tons of information about distances from each of our 2 locations as well as what kind of facilities each boat landing has available. If you have any issues, or need help, feel free to call us at 608.375.5301 or email us with your questions.
History says that once we get through May the river tends to drop in flow, sand bars appear and life is great! However, because the river is draining more than half the state of Wisconsin there are times when rain that falls 200 miles north of us will have to flow by at some point. First, this is a wilderness experience and we don't have control over the rain that falls, the water released from dams up river and other natural factors we have yet to tame so you must be prepared and informed. A few days before your trip it's always a good idea to look at the weather (Boscobel/Sauk City) and water levels.
Refer to the graphs below for current water level information. This data is updated every 15 minutes to 3 hours by the US Geological Survey (your tax dollars at work!). When we talk about water levels on the WI River we talk about them in cf/s (Cubic Feet per Second). Here's a break down of what you can expect regarding water levels and river conditions:
>20,000 cf/s there are NO sand bars to camp on, on a calm day we'll put experienced paddlers in at Statz Boat Landing in Sauk City and we have overnight camping options in Boscobel. ALWAYS wear your life vest!
15,000-20,000 cf/s there are VERY limited sand bars to camp on, we recommend having experience at this water level, especailly if the wind is blowing. Most likely we'll put you in at the Statz Boat Landing. ALWAYS wear your life vest!
10,000-15,000 cf/s there are limited sand bars available to camp on, you can't be picky, if you find a sand bar — TAKE IT!
<10,000 cf/s and Life is Good!
5,000-8,000 cf/s are PERFECT conditions.
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