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Hints on Lower Wisconsin River Camping

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by mr.gorp, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. mr.gorp

    mr.gorp New Member

    I'm new to camping on the Lower Wisconsin River and looking for any special things that I should know about camping on the Lower WI? What I've learned (in summary) so far:

    At night tie/beach boat way up high (on dry sand). The water fluctuates in height daily.
    Don't expect to find firewood along the river -- so bring your own (within 50 miles of the river).
    The river is sand bottomed, but watch out for drop offs.
    Starting at Muscoda and further down river is quieter (less people).
    Stake your claim to an island (or part of) early -- and sit back and enjoy the outing.
    You need a garbage bag in every canoe for refuse.

    A couple of questions:
    What do you do about water? Are there plentifuly places to refill jugs? Wher edoes one refill? Can you use a filter like in the BWCA?
    Toilets are non-existant -- so unlike the BWCA or St. Croix, there are no designated facilities. So how do you handle it? shovel and a pit?
    Is there any limit on the size of group that can camp on an island? (BWCA limits is 9 per campsite).
    Are there any permits needed? Any reservation system?
    How is the weather along the river? Stonger winds? Regular morning mist?
    Any better time to canoe?
    What differences between early summer camping and later summer camping?

    Any other suggestions or things to watch our for?

    Sorry if this is a little long, but I'm new to Wisconsin and looking to setup a canoe camping trip for for a group of senior high school boys. I'd like there not to be to many surprises -- and make sure that they have a good experience (and want to go camping and canoeing agian).

    Thank you for any help that you can provide!
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'll suggest calling Darren Bush at Rutabaga, Madison, WI. 1-800-472-3353
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Bring drinking water. Freeze it in milk jugs to keep your perishables cool in coolers. Drink it when it thaws. Get plastic "jerry" cans, too. You can filter, too. I never looked for fresh water along the way, but there may be some place to refill...?

    Shovel and pit works the best. Watch your step. Not all folks do this.

    No permits or party size limitations.

    River flows west, basically. Head winds can be bothersome at times.
    Mist happens when conditions are right.

    As far as I know, there is no "better" time to paddle it in the summer. If you are looking for fewer crowds, I think fall may be the time to go or in the middle of the week.

    Surprises??? Sometimes the party animals along the way can be surprising.
    Then there is the nude beach upstream from where you want to put in at Mazomaine. People there are naked! Surprise, surprise!!
    I think you may have been referring to hazards along the way. There are only the typical riverine hazards......sweepers, underwater limbs and tree trunks, etc. It is truely a river of sand for the most part. It is fairly wide. Hazards are few.
    Here is a resource for you.....WCHA members Mark and Meri Morrall have guide videos at for info on the Lower Wisconsin and other southern and central Wisconsin rivers and streams.
    Dave Osborn
  4. Jim Okkema

    Jim Okkema LOVES Wooden Canoes

    +1 from me for Mark & Merri's videos. They know these rivers well. The Wisconsin is a great place to camp. In the evening when traffic stops it is quiet and beautiful. The sand bottom makes it great for swimming, the current is gentle.
    I have great memories of camping there with our kids, nieces and nephews when they were little. I think the Great Rivers chapter is going there again this year, no? Maybe I'll make it this time.

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