Living in Chicago and being an outdoor adventure travel blogger, one of my favorite getaways for weekends is to nearby Wisconsin. I have been canoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing throughout this state for 30 years. I am pretty familiar with the rivers, the hiking trails, the camping spots, and the cross-country ski trails. Even though I am quite knowledgeable about Wisconsin, having a guide can be helpful. Kevin Revolinski’s Paddling Wisconsin and Best Tent Camping Wisconsin are both great resources on where to canoe and camp.
Two summers ago I helped with some of the research done on the forty canoe streams included in the Paddling Wisconsin book. I paddled Badfish Creek, the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, and the Oxbow section of the Pine with the author. For my efforts, there are two photos of myself in the book. It was quite an honor to find myself forever captured in Wisconsin canoeing print. I was also grateful to receive from the publisher a complimentary copy of the book.
I had earlier received a copy of Best Tent Camping Wisconsin. This book is also authored by Kevin Revolinksi and co-authored by Johnny Molloy. The tent camping book makes a perfect compliment to the Paddling Wisconsin book. If you are going to Wisconsin to paddle, you are most likely going to also camp.
Paddling Wisconsin and Best Tent Camping Wisconsin weekend adventure
I decided to put the two books to the test. In October I referred to the books to plan a weekend canoe adventure. I wanted to find a good canoe route where the fall colors were in peak condition. I needed to find something farther north as it was early October. I consulted the Travel Wisconsin website to find where the best colors were located and then cross-referenced the overview map at the beginning of the Paddling Wisconsin book. It looked to me that number 37 – The North Fork of the Flambeau seemed like the perfect spot.
I turned to page 188 in the book and looked at the overview for this section of the river. I needed outfitter information because I do not own a canoe. Flambeau Sports Outfitters was listed with their website. I referenced the website and sent an email on Thursday asking if they could shuttle and rent me a canoe. On Friday, Dave responded to my email and asked that I give him a call. I called and we set up an early morning rendezvous on Saturday.
Each section of Paddling Wisconsin also includes a detailed description of the section of river, a map, and a two page narrative. There is also information on rapids, difficulty rating, shuttle and directions to the put-in, and information about permits and fees. There are also a lot of color pictures throughout the book to give an even better idea of what to expect.
With my canoe and shuttle taken care of, I now needed to find a camping site on Friday night. I was planning on camping along the river Saturday night. I opened up the Best Tent Camping book and on the inside cover was a map with all of the recommended campsites listed. Spearhead Point Campground appeared to be the closest location to the Flambeau River.
I left Chicago on Friday and about five hours later I arrived at the campground. I self registered as this was a National Forest campground and set up my tent. Since it was dark, and I left early the next morning, I did not sufficiently get to experience the campground, but it seemed really beautiful. I definitely will plan to come up here again and spend more time. The campground was beautifully forested and located along the shores of the Mondeaux Flowage.
Canoeing the Flambeau River
I awoke early the next morning and made the final one hour drive to Philips to meat up with Dave and get my rental canoe. The trip along the Flambeau was absolutely beautiful and just what I was looking for. I did not actually follow the route that Kevin recommended in the book, but I am sure that section is just as fantastic.
Wisconsin has one of the best networks of canoeing streams in the country. You cannot beat the diversity of rivers in America’s dairyland. They have beautiful northwoods rivers like the Flambeau and the Brule, they have the Wisconsin River which has some of the best river camping in the world, there are rivers with rapids like the Wolf and Peshtigo, and rivers that meander through Wisconsin farmland like the Pecatonica and Badfish. On top of that, Wisconsin has shorelines on two great lakes, so there is great sea kayaking opportunities.
For those looking for Wisconsin canoeing tips, you cannot go wrong with Paddling Wisconsin and for tent camping you will find great information from Best Tent Camping Wisconsin. They make the perfect pair and compliment each other well as outlined by my weekend adventure. Even for someone like me who knows a lot of places to camp and canoe in the state, I found a few new places to explore. If you are unlike me and unfamiliar with the canoe and camping options in the state, you will really benefit from the advice in these books.
Although I did receive a complimentary copy of both books, this fact did not affect my opinion of the books. I feel they are both helpful guides, and they would both make perfect holiday gifts for the adventure traveler on your gift list.
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