A Protected River
In 1989 the last 92 miles of the Wisconsin River was protected from development by the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board. Because of this forethought you’ll see very few houses along the tree lined shore during your trip and views of bluffs in the distance are unspoiled.
The Wisconsin River is on the migratory route of many birds that fly between Canada and points south. We are lucky enough to have large populations of Bald Eagles, Sand Hill Cranes, Blue Herons, King Fishers and many other water oriented birds. You’ll also see turtles sunning themselves on logs along the rivers edge, raccoons, beaver and otters.
What the River is Like?
First, be sure to check out our Google Earth Flyover of the Wisconsin River! You will need to have downloaded the Google Earth software onto your computer but it does give perhaps the best sense of what the river is like if you’ve never been on the Wisconsin. Also, check out our Google Maps page and view the map in "Sat" mode, then zoom into the river for examples of what the river is like.
The Wisconsin River is wide, sandy and generally shallow, you’ll be able to touch the bottom of the river 90% of the time with your paddle in normal summer conditions.
The shores are tree lined with little development along the the banks or on the bluffs in the distance. The further down river you go the less development you’ll see and fewer people you’ll run into.
There are literally thousands of islands/sand bars to camp, swim and fish from; which is why the Wisconsin River is often called "The River of a Thousand Isles."
All of this makes for a perfect paddlesports/silent sports river. Because of how shallow the river is there are very few motorized fishing boats on the river, those that are are generally local fisherman who know how to read the river.
What Stretch should We do and How Far should We Paddle?
The general rule we give is that you’ll cover about 3 MPH while on the water paddling. This obviously does not include the time you spend "hangin’" on the sand bars. So, if you take your intended total amount of time you’ll be paddling on the water and then multiply by 3 MPH you’ll have a ballpark of how many miles you’ll be doing. Then, visit our canoe rentals page and look at the chart and match your estimated number of miles to a desired put in and take out.
It is illegal to be in possession of glass on the Wisconsin River. Assume you WILL be searched by the WI Dept. of Natural Resources. If caught you will face a fine of upto $749 for the possession of glass (beer bottles, jelly jars, mayo jars, wine bottles).
Fireworks are also illegal and punishable by fines. We are trying to provide a peaceful experience for our paddlers and the many migratory birds that we share the river with. Leave your glass and fireworks at home and save yourself the fine for being in possession of them on the river.