The best way to canoe the Wisconsin River is to spend multiple nights on the river as it is such a relaxing beautiful place. One day or one night just does not do it justice; however, sometimes life is uncooperative and a day or night is all you have to spare.
If you find yourself on the Wisconsin River and only have a day or night to spend on the river, then the section between Muscoda and Boscobel is one I recommend. This section is approximately 16 miles in length. 16 miles sounds like a lot for one day, but the river flows at a rate of about 3 miles per hour even in low water, so it is easy to move even if just drifting.
If this still sounds like too far to go on one day, there is also a landing at Blue River. The Wisconsin River is very accessible as there are put ins and takes outs almost every five or six miles.
If you do not have a canoe or you need transport, Wisconsin River Outings is the way to go. They are located in either Boscobel or Sauk City. Be sure to grab a copy of the Wisconsin River Times at their office. You will find a copy of this article.
The Sauk City, Spring Green, and Lone Rock sections are equally as beautiful, but they get a lot more traffic up river. From Muscoda on down to the Mississippi, the river is much more quiet unless you get disturbed by raucous owls and river otters.
If you are camping overnight and plan to make this stretch an overnight one, three mile Coumbe Island is a good place to stop. It is just west of Blue River and usually has a nice sandy beach at the western end. There is a convenience store at Blue River, so if you want to fill up on ice, beer, or get an ice cream cone, then stop at the sand bar before the bridge on the left hand side and walk across the bridge.
The sandbar on Coumbe Island also affords gorgeous views of the sunset. We pulled up our chairs on the section of the sandbar that looked west and watched the sun set and the river flow. Not a care in the world was felt as we witnessed the peaceful scene.
There is something about watching the flow of a river that calms the nerves. The placid Wisconsin River with its golden sandbars and tree covered shorelines is the perfect place for those looking for a distraction from their busy stressful lives.
Speaking of a distraction, during our morning coffee conversation, one camper said to the other “what do you think is eating those clams?” I suggested river otter or possibly raccoons. An hour later, three rowdy raucous river otters invaded our sandbar and actually barked at us, upset we were interrupting their morning clam bake. The coffee discussion question was answered.
The last section of this stretch flows through the beautiful bluffs overlooking Boscobel, the wild turkey hunting capital of Wisconsin. We did not see any wild turkeys this day, but we did see some juvenile bald eagles approaching adult hood on a tree.
We had to battle some wind coming into Boscobel, which is often the case. The river widens approaching the bridge with a direct western exposure. We call this the Boscobel chute as we have had some tough paddles here in the past. Today was not so bad, and we cruised toward the Boscobel bridge wishing we had another 16 miles to go and another day of camping.
Be careful coming into the landing at Boscobel. Just past the bridge on the left is the inlet and there is strong current there before pulling in. Many a canoe has swamped here getting broadside with panicked paddlers leaning upstream.
There are two ways to manage a successful landing here. You can cruise past the landing and head for the shore and paddle back upstream to the landing via the eddy on the right. The other option is to turn the boat around and ferry across. If you keep the boat at a 45 degree angle to the current it will push you across laterally without the fear of tipping or being pushed downstream.
Once you pull in it is time to plan your next Wisconsin River Outting.
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