Rock River, WI

I was planning on taking a camping trip on the rock river in wisconsin in spring. Has anyone paddled this river before? are there any places along shore to camp? i was planning on putting in around the ft atkinson area, and would liek to take a 3-4 day trip. please let me know if anyone has any info on this type of a trip.

Steer clear
of the Tyson Chicken plant. Smelly dirty water. I haven’t done the Rock, but I’d check the Mike Svob books… If I’m not mistaken, there are lots of farms on the shore, and very limited camping.


Rock River
If you have not already read it, check out Mike Svob’s “Paddling Southern Wisconsin” and “Paddling Illinois” guidebooks. He describes several trips along the Rock River in Southern WI and Northern IL. However, I don’t think his discussion includes the strech directly below Ft. Akinson. I have only been on short sections of the Rock at Janesville and near Rockford, so can not offer alot of personnel info, except there are dams to portage at Janesville, Beloit (I believe), and Rockford, maybe others further upstream.

I have done some paddling on the Rock
I usually launch from the public boat launch on Water St. in down town Ft. Atkinson. If you head south you will end up in Lake Koshkanong. Which is a very large well used lake in the summer. I have also paddled the river in down town Janesville. I would be careful as there are a few dams. As far as camping I have yet to see any areas where I would consider camping along the sections I have paddled.

Wouldn’t be my first choice
This river is in wide-open farm country, and there are no public lands along the banks that I’m aware of. You might find some wildlife areas here and there, but camping isn’t allowed in such places (though you’d probably not get caught).

Once you get downstream of Lake Koshkonong, a good one-quarter of your river miles will be spent paddling within the cities of Janesville and Beloit, and you will portage at least 3 to 4 dams, depending on just how far you go and where you put in. Paddling the slackwater behind the dams will be slow going (though the rest of the river is really slow too), which is okay I guess, but to me that’s not pretty like a river in its natural condition.

The biggest obstacle I think will be the camping. I think it will be a real challenge finding camping locations in proper quantity and location to do a multi-day trip.

Sorry to be a wet blanket about this one.

I think camping would be the biggest problem too. In the Illinois section of the river, the only place I know of where you can camp along the river is at Castle Rock State Park. I haven’t paddled on it farther north than Rockton, so I can’t help you with Wisconsin, but even from the state line to Castle Rock is a very long paddle with about three portages…