Wisconsin River

I am interested in the Wisconsin River from Boscobel to Bridgeport. I have paddled from Sauk City to Spring Green - is the Bridgeport section similar - shallow, lots of sandbars?

I’m planning a canoe outing for my extended family. Last year we did the Maquoketa river in Monticello, Iowa and I’m looking for something similar in Central IL or Southern WI. (I do have the Paddling Southern WI book, just looking for first-hand info)


It’s roughly the same, …
… but you will find a lot more islands, often resulting in two or three major channels. Also, the sandbars will become less and less abundant once you get near Bridgeport, and “shallows” become less of a problem too. Downstream of Woodman (there’s a railroad bridge there), there are some good sandbar camping sites, but they are less common than farther upstream.

As to the shallows, there is never any reason to run aground. The deep water weaves back and forth like a river within a river, and with practice you can see which way to go at least a hundred yards in advance. If you start getting into shallows, go cross-wise to the current toward deeper water rather than continuing downstream.

Shallow is good, though, since we’ll have some non-swimmers and lots of kids.

I’m also considering the Kishwaukee near Rockford, if anyone has an opinion of that river.


– Last Updated: Feb-18-09 8:16 PM EST –

The Kishwaukee is great for day trips, but there is no available public overnight camping on the river. A nice stream winding through the countryside, not much development along the river, but never too far away from civilization. Typically considered an easy paddle, the stream is usually open without blockages, but occasional deadfall obstacles can be present that require some boat handling skills. Svob’s Paddling Illinois book does a good job discussing the section down stream of Belvidere, which generally has enough water for good year around paddling (although below about 120 cfs on the Perryville gauge is getting pretty low and you may have to drag across some gravel bars). There is also a nice section upstream of Belvidere from Countyline Road to Red Horse Bend that is more water-dependent that the lower stretch of the stream. - Stan

I actually prefer
the sections downriver from Spring Green to the sections up river to Sauk Prarie.

You will find less people on the river the farther down you go from Spring Green.

As you get farther West the water and river bed are less sandy and more muddy. Not a problem, just different. It’s kind of nice the way the river changes a bit as you proceed downriver.

There may be fewer places to camp as you get down river, but there are also a lot less people to compete with for the sites.

Me too
I and the folks I usually paddle with never put-in upstream of Spring Green on a summer weekend for that very reason. Canoes and kayaks get less and less common below Spring Green, though fishermen get a little more common near Woodman.

I might add for clarification, that even though the water often gets darker farther downstream, the sandbars of the lower stretches are still clean, and the river bottom is still sand, all the way to the Mississippi. You can find mud-covered sandbars on ANY part of the river, even right below Sauk, if the current there was slow at some point while the sand was submerged. That’s more of a hydrologic (is that a word?) thing than a location thing.