Kayak the Wisconsin River in the Dells

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Added by Sonja Saxe

Just minutes away from the busy downtown Wisconsin Dells you can explore the idyllic Wisconsin River by water on this scenic 7.5 mile paddle. You will be treated to the beautiful sandstone cliffs of the Wisconsin River, lush green narrows, caves, and beaches along the way.

Just minutes away from the hullabaloo of downtown Wisconsin Dells is the perfect spot to launch a kayak and paddle the Wisconsin River. Finding a place to launch a kayak on the Wisconsin River can be tricky but we found the perfect spot. To get there drive through downtown Wisconsin Dells and take a left on River Road then another left on Illinois Avenue. There is parking along Illinois Avenue and room to launch a kayak.

From the launch site head up river until you get to Blackhawk Island and the river splits, here head left and paddle along the north bank around the island. You will continue to follow the river north to what is known as the Witches Gulch. Here you can turn around and paddle straight south, back to your launch site. Along the 7.5 mile trip you will see beautiful sandstone cliffs, caves and inlets, secluded beaches (watch out for "Private Property" postings, though), and wildlife.

One important thing to note is that there are many boat tours on the Wisconsin River which can make kayaking along this route more dangerous. It is important to hug closer to the shoreline and steer clear of the center of the river where many motor boats cruise through. I would recommend going earlier or later in the season to avoid the summer peak crowds.

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Kayaking
Swimming
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
River
Scenic

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Very Scenic Paddle

We canoed this route yesterday and it was very scenic. For a Thursday morning in late June, the river was pretty calm until about noon when we started seeing a lot of the dells tour boats. From the confluence on the north side of Blackhawk island, heading north, the waves from the tour boats were almost unsafe for a canoe at times and the waves don’t dissipate quickly because they bounce off the rock walls along the river and make for a very choppy ride. At one point, a jet tour boat gunned it and left us on 6’+ rolling waves. If you’re going to canoe it, go early in the day to avoid motorized boats, and stay to the smaller channels like around the back of Blackhawk island and be sure to take a deture into Coldwater Canyon!

I've wanted to do this for some time.

This is a must do for 2017 for me. I might even jump the gun and attempt this in the winter. I bet it'd be beautiful.

261 total saves

4.5/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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