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Thousands of people visit the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway each year for the expressed purpose of canoeing. The river is broad and relatively shallow with numerous sand bars and islands available for breaks from paddling. The sand bars also are used as overnight camp sites. Fees are not charged for sand bar camping. Camping on the shore lands is not permitted. Also, camping on private lands without the permission of the landowner is trespassing and is not tolerated.

Despite its placid appearance, the river may be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not exercised. Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when canoeing, boating or wading on the river. The river may drop off from a few inches to several feet within one step. When wading on a sand bar, always walk upstream and walk in pairs. Avoid flows through hazards such as snags or overhanging branches. If you capsize or step into deep water, do not fight the current. The river is relatively shallow and, by drifting downstream with the current, you should find a spot where you can stand up. IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO SWIM IT, DO NOT CANOE IT OR WADE IT AND ALWAYS WEAR A LIFE PRESERVER!

The sun can be devastating to your skin when youíre on the river for any length of time. Use sunscreen, wear a hat and bring extra clothing. Poison ivy is abundant along the river. Avoid contact with the plant and be sure you can recognize the three leaves which signify poison ivy. Mosquitoes are frequently a problem so remember to bring repellent in case you need it.

Water levels on the river change daily, especially if there has been rain anywhere within the vast watershed of the river. When choosing a sand bar camp site, always make sure you have high ground in case of a rise in the river level overnight. Always secure you canoe and equipment well so you donít find yourself in a predicament when you wake up in the morning.

There are recreational use restrictions in the Riverway which are strictly enforced. Glass containers are prohibited on the river and all state owned lands. Each canoe or boat must have a waterproof refuse container for garbage. This may be a plastic garbage bag, cooler or other similar device. All garbage carried in must be carried out.


For further information regarding canoeing on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, contact Mark Cupp, Executive Director, Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, at 1-800-221-3792, e-mail: mark.cupp@wi.gov or by writing to P.O. Box 187, Muscoda, WI 53573.

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Last Modified:  8/7/2023 10:04:38 AM
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