No, the sand bars in the middle of the river are public State land and you do not need a permit to camp on them.
There are VERY few places to obtain quality water while on the river. We HIGHLY recommend purchasing water jugs rather than having a bunch of small water bottles. For groups of 2 or more canoes we recommend a jug like the one in the photo. They usually hold around 5 gallons and can easily be filled up again and again. You should be able to find them at your local WalMart for less than $10.
Filtering – due to the amount of sediment in the Wisconsin River we don’t recommend filtering your water for use. You’ll find that you’ll quickly go through filters due to clogging. Some have been mildly successful at filtering water to cook with or rinse cleaned dishes off with in order to conserve the drinking water they’ve brought along. We don’t recommend counting on this optoin without having a backup if it doesn’t pan out for you.
One of the biggest environmental issues facing Wisconsin is invasive species…and firewood is a main contributor. PLEASE, leave your wood (and what’s in it) at home.
Early in the paddle season you shouldn’t have much trouble finding firewood. By mid to late June wood will become more scarse, especially on our Sauk City stretch. Remember:
There’s poison ivy on the islands
There’s wood ticks on the islands also
Please becareful when you go roaming off into the trees…you don’t know what you’re bringing back. We want you to remember your trip because you had a great time, not because you scratched for 4 weeks afterwards.
We have good sized bundles of firewood that are harvested locally for $5 per bundle. A bundle will last about 45 minutes to an hour. We recommend 2-3 bundles of wood based on how big a pyro you’ve got in your group;-)
Many of our customers come up and camp at a local campground the night before their trip to save themselves some of the hassle of driving up to us the morning of their trip.
Boscobel – There’s a clean, well maintained campground in the Town of Muscoda, 16 miles up river from our shop. The campground has toliets, showers and one large shelter. There are 2 parts of the campground, on the west side are designated camping spots and on the east end of the park there is wide open group areas (this is the cheaper of the two parts). http://www.muscoda.com/park-info.html.
Sauk City – Snuffy’s Campground is located right across the street from our Sauk City location. Snuffy’s has RV and tent camping available. http://snuffyscampground.com/
First, let’s talk packing philosophy. Most of our customers are on the water for right around 24 hours (an overnight trip), there are a lot of things you can live without for 24 hours. Your objective when planning your trip should be how little can you bring and still be comfortable. Your goal should not be to see what the limits of the amount of gear you can bring with you and fit in the canoe. Visit our Video Library and see the video we’ve put together on packing as well as our suggested packing list.
Finally, since we’re on the topic of "Packing Best Practices" we HIGHLY recommend renting one of our huge dry bags to keep your clothes/sleeping bag/pillow dry!
Pack Right, Pack Light!
The short answer is as soon as possible!
Weekends in July and August will sell out. The sooner you can book these weekends the best chance you have of getting the number of canoes on the dates you want. Outside of July and August we recommend booking at least 2 weeks out from your dates. We do accept reservations on the "day-of" but please understand that it’s possible we will not have the staff in place to accommodate you for a last minute reservation.
Also keep in mind our reservation/cancelation policy:
Reservations are taken with balance due on Visa, MasterCard or Discover. 100% refund with cancellations 7 days prior to the start of your rental date. After 7 days, a canoe rental credit good for the same paddling season will be issued, which can also be redeemed as a gift certificate.
Once your paddle hits the water, there are no refunds or credits.
First and foremost, paddling is a wilderness experience so we do expect you to have rain gear and be prepared. It is not possible for us to come pick you up early from your trip simply because it has started raining and you’ve failed to prepare.
If you decide to cancel within 7 days of your start date because of rain in the forecast, Wisconsin River Outings will provide you with a same season paddle credit. You can then reschedule your trip at a later date, based on availability.
No, transportation is included in the cost of the rental price.
BOSCOBEL – In Boscobel you’ll drop people and gear off at your put in of choice on your way to our shop. After dropping people and gear off, the drivers only, will continue on down river to Boscobel. WRO will then take the drivers and canoes back up river to your put in. This way at the end of your trip you’ll be able to finish on your schedule and unload out of your canoe and into your vehicle and be on your way home.
SAUK CITY – Your group will come directly to our shop in Sauk City and launch from there. Prior to your departure you’ll arrange a pickup time on one of our afternoon shuttles for the trip back up river to our shop and your vehicle.
We give the general rule that you’ll cover about 3 miles per hour while on the water (not while sitting on a sand bar napping). So we recommend that you take the total number of hours you intend to paddle over the length of your trip and multiply by 3 to give a ballpark of how many miles you’ll be looking to do. Now, visit our rentals page and scroll down to the graph and compare your distances to trip suggestions.
Pointer! If you’re intending to do a 3 day trip and you think you’ll be paddling 7 hours per day, so 21 total hours, and multiply 21 hours by 3 MPH, that’s 63 miles. 95% of our customers are NOT going to cover 63 miles in 3 days. On average, most people will paddle from 3-6 hours per day…and closer to 3 hours. Be realistic. And when calculating a distance, be conservative and discuss it with your group.
If you’ve got first timers going on a trip you’ll be much further ahead if when you come off the river the first-timers are saying, "we’re done already, I could have gone longer" than them saying, "OMG, I thought this was never going to end." If they say that, you can be pretty sure they’re never doing another canoe trip…at least with you;-)
Scouts/NonProfits FAQ (8)
o Can we have you plan and Guide the trip so all the troop has to do is show up with personnel gear? Yes. Our guided trips run $50 per person per day for Scouts (discounted from $75/person per day). So, a 3 day trip would be $150 per person and covers canoes, vests, paddles, 6 meals and guide.
o Can we have you plan the trip and have us show up with personnel gear and food? Yes, whether that’s with rentals or simply transport, we can give you help in planning out your trip. Scout rentals are $30/day plus a flat fee of $2/mile for transport (doing a 29 mile trip x $2 = $58, this covers the entire group, not per person).
o Can the troop do all the planning, use our equipment and only use you for shuttling between landings? Yes, we also do this. Because we have 2 locations and each handles this differently be sure you understand the proceedure to get you on the water as fast as possible. On the low end we charge $2/mile, on the high end we charge $2/mile for the first canoe plus $20 for each additional canoe. We can talk about this more when your plans firm up.
We give the general rule that folks will cover 3 MPH while on the river. Take the total number of hours you intend to paddle during your trip and multiply by 3 MPH and that will give us a good start as to where to put you in and take you out at. If you make more of an effort to paddle you can speed that up and if you don’t put your paddle in the water but to keep the boat out of the trees you’ll be a bit slower. Also, weather and winds can make a difference in progress. While there are those groups that do paddle their butts off the entire trip, most groups will not do more than 5 hours of actual on water time during a day of paddling. Between swimming, meals and lounging you’ll end up spending more time "enjoying" the river than actually paddling it.
In our opinion, that’s a great starting trip. While some folks can’t get out for anything more than an overnight we don’t think you start "hitting your stride" until you do a full day of paddling without having to jump in a car before or after paddling in the same day. 3 days/2 nights is perfect!
2 Day Trip Muscoda to Boscobel, 6 hour total paddle
Additional distances of 23, 29, 35, 47 and 60 mile trips available.
There’s a campground in the town of Muscoda if you decide to arrive the night before and camp at the campground.
Drop off people and gear at the put-in for the start of your trip.
Drivers continue down river to our shop in Boscobel
We’ll check your group in, sell you firewood and rental dry bags
We’ll then take the canoes and your drivers up river to the put in, if you can get to our shop at 9 AM you’ll be on our first vehicle up river.
Most Troops will put an hour between them and the boat landing before stopping for lunch and a swim.
Most groups will then paddle between 60-90 minutes between stops. Visit our Maps page for segment maps of the river.
Keep in mind that the last 5 or so miles before the Boscobel boat landing does not have suitable camping sites due to sand bar size and the road that parallels the river for the last 2.5 miles.
Roust and have breakfast.
Most groups are on the water by 9:30 AM and can generally hit the Boscobel boat landing before noon.
2 Day Trip Sauk City to Spring Green, 8 hour total paddle
A reminder, there is a nude beach 7 miles down river from Sauk City.
There is a campground across the street from our shop, Snuffy’s Campground if you’d like to come up the night before your trip starts.
Arrive at our shop, we open at 9 AM.
Check in with the office
Set up your pickup time for the end of your trip
Load canoes and hit the water
Lunch around noon on a sand bar
You’ll most likely do 60-90 minute stints of paddling, longer if the wind is blowing in order to cover ground
Set up camp for the night, on July and August weekends, the sooner the better on this stretch of river
Break camp after breakfast
Be at the boat landing 30 minutes before the pickup time you set up on Day 1 (1 PM, 3 PM or 5 PM)
We require a 100% deposit by check with your reservation.
You may cancel or reduce the number of canoes you need up to 7 days before your reservation for a full refund. Changes made within 7 days are give a same season paddle credit. Because we are offering you a discounted rate, any additional boats added within 7 days of your rental will be at the normal rate for that trip. We believe this will help for your planning as well as ours regarding staff and making sure we have your boats at the proper location for when you need them.
Please fill out and sign the Scout/NonProfit Rental Contract and mail it in with your check.
Where you park your cars will be based on which location you decide to paddle with:
In Boscobel you’ll take your group directly to your put in and drop off people and gear. The drivers will then get back in their vehicles and continue down river to our shop. We’ll then park your cars at the boat landing in Boscobel and drive the drivers and canoes back up river to your group. When you finish your trip in Boscobel your vehicles will be waiting for you to unload out of your canoes and into your vehicles and on your way home.
In Sauk City you’ll come directly to our shop. Because there’s a dam just up river from our location the only direction to head is down river. Prior to putting on the river you’ll arrange an afternoon pickup time with our staff. You cars will be parked in our parking lot. At your designated pickup you’ll load your gear into one of our vehicles and we’ll drive the entire group back up river to Sauk City where you’ll unload our of our vehicle and into your own.
I’m sorry, it isn’t. Our rentals are based on calendar days, not hours. A Saturday/Sunday rental is a 2 day rental and would be $65 per canoe.
We give the general rule that our customers will cover about 3 miles per hour while on the river (not relaxing on a sand bar…that’s ZERO miles per hour). To help decide how far to paddle and what put in and take out to use you should calculate how many hours you’d like to paddle over the entire number of days you’re paddling and multiply by 3 MPH. So if you’re looking to put in 8 hours of paddling over 2 days, multiply 8 hrs x 3 MPH = 24 miles. We can then make suggestions of what trip would best suit your needs.
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.