Kayak in Wisconsin [Best 17 Places for Kayaking in Wisconsin]

Wisconsin boasts over 43,000 miles of rivers and more than 15,000 lakes. This is why many have regarded Wisconsin as the mecca of kayaking. If you want to have an exciting summer, you need to kayak in Wisconsin.

The 17 best places to kayak in Wisconsin are as follows:

  1. Neenah Creek
  2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Meyers Rd – Bayfield, WI
  3. Harbor District and the Kinnickinnic River
  4. Madeline Island Sea Caves
  5. “Upper Dells” or Wisconsin River in the Dells
  6. The Mighty Pine
  7. Miller Park
  8. Namekagon River
  9. Plover River
  10. Lower Wisconsin River
  11. Mecan River
  12. Fox River
  13. Mirror Lake
  14. Montello River
  15. Bois Brule River
  16. Wausau’s Whitewater Park
  17. The Kickapoo River

There are plenty of rivers and lakes during summer in Wisconsin where you can enjoy kayaking, no matter your age or experience – whether you are a beginner or experienced kayaker. The majority of these popular kayaking destinations are also close to one or more bed and breakfast spots.

Read on to learn more about the best kayaking destinations in Wisconsin and what awaits you in terms of the excitement and adventure that each of these spots offers.

Best 17 Places for Kayaking in Wisconsin

If you want to spend an enjoyable and unforgettable summer, go kayaking in Wisconsin. This state offers countless lakes and rivers that are excellent for exploring on a kayak.

Such places as the Apostle Islands Lakeshore on Lake Superior, the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, and the Wisconsin Dells are just some of the many attractions that will provide memorable experiences on the water.

Whether you choose to explore the waters in the north, central or south parts of Wisconsin, you have many kayak spots to choose from.

See below for the 17 best places to kayak in Wisconsin.

1. Neenah Creek

kayak in Wisconsin

First on our list of the best kayaking in Wisconsin is the Neenah Creek. Neenah Creek offers a gentle current and a few tight turns. This creek is located north of Madison. You will be paddling the whole stretch of this creek for about an hour and 25 minutes. Along your trip, the current slows down and also doubles its width.

The slow movement of the current gives you enough opportunities to practice going through the corners of the bend. It does not require fancy or complicated movements, though.

When you are about halfway through, the creek gets narrower. It also becomes twisty as you approach its narrower part.

At this point, you will see some wet grass. This creek is surrounded by wet grass and hardwoods. It attracts waterfowls like geese and cranes. The whole length of this creek is about three miles. At the end of your trip, take out your kayak on Muskrat Road.

2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Wisconsin river kayaking

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Meyers Road, located in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is one of the most popular kayaking spots. It is the place to go for Wisconsin cave kayaking. There is a guided kayak tour, which will take you from the sandstone shoreline through the caves. This tour will last for about two and a half hours to complete.

The tour guide is a seasoned kayaker, so you don’t have to be experienced in kayaking to join. Your payment already includes all of the gears that you will use. If you are a group composed of six people, this tour will be more personalized.

3. Harbor District and Kinnickinnic River

As you move closer to Bay View on this kayak trip, you will pass some of Milwaukee’s iconic train bridges. You will also pass by the Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, a division of the University of Wisconsin.

This river stretch has undergone cleaning in recent years because of the efforts and the advocacy of the UWM Handle and several groups protecting the river’s waters. The whole tour will take you down to Chase Avenue and back. It will take about three hours without any stops.

4. Madeline Island Sea Caves

Next on our list of the best places to kayak in Wisconsin is the Madeline Island Sea Caves. In Northern Wisconsin, there are 22 islands, and the biggest of them is Madeline Island. It is the ideal place to launch your kayaking trip if you are a newbie. Seasoned kayakers advise you first to start shadowing the island’s shoreline before you go to the caves.

Inside the caves, you will be treated with amazing views of the rock formations and the sandstone making it the best kayaking in Wisconsin. The whole stretch will take around three miles starting from your launching spot. For some of the best Wisconsin cave kayaking, head to Madeline Island Sea Caves.

5. “Upper Dells”

best kayaking in Wisconsin

This list wouldn’t be complete without Wisconsin Dells kayaking. The “Upper Dells” is a busy area, so you need to plan so that you won’t be hustling with other kayakers to enjoy the place. This place offers an amazing kayaking experience for beginners and experienced kayakers alike.

To get to the ideal spot to launch your kayak trip, drive through the busy downtown and take a left on River Road. Then turn left again on Illinois Avenue. Along this avenue is a parking lot where you can park your car.

Launch your kayak trip from Illinois Avenue and go north up the river until you feel like turning back. Then go around to the famous Witches Gulch through its narrow ways, which is about 7.5 miles long.

Paddling in the narrow section of the river is quite challenging. Thus, this spot will be more for seasoned paddlers. But it will take you through the best that kayaking Wisconsin Dells can offer.

You will see amazing rock formations and high cliffs. You can rest and tuck your kayak in one of the ledges there for a while if you want to enjoy the view.

6. The Mighty Pine

This kayaking spot is located near Richland Center. It offers more relaxed scenery and is ideal for you if you want a gentle trip. Along the way, you will be treated with sites like stretches of rocks, all sorts of wildlife, and a host of farmlands.

7. Miller Park

In this kayaking trip, you will head north and then west, going to the Menomonee. Continue going straight until you pass Harley-Davidson. The river will narrow at this place, and depending on the water’s level, your kayak might be able to reach up to Miller Park.

The water level in this spot tends to be lower in the fall and higher during spring. This is a stretch of over three miles from the point the rivers meet up to the stadium.

Make sure that you have enough drinking water for a whole day of paddling. On your return trip, you can choose to stop at City Lights Brewing to reward yourself with a glass of beer.

8. The Namekagon River

This lovely kayaking spot is located in the northern part of Wisconsin. It flows into the St. Croix River and is included in the National Wild and Scenic River System of Wisconsin. This stretch is about 90 miles long, so be ready for several days of paddling to complete the trip.

9. Plover River

Plover River stretches from Pinery Road to Shantytown Drive. Its water current is just moderate, not too gentle, and not too rough. It will take you around two hours to complete the stretch. The water is clear since there’s not much mud at the bottom.

kayaking Wisconsin Dells

Along the way, you will be treated with scenic views such as low bridges, several farmlands, and fir and pine trees. Farther ahead on this Wisconsin River kayaking spot, you will notice that hardwood trees replace the conifers.

10. Lower Wisconsin River

Next on our list of the best places to kayak in Wisconsin is the Lower Wisconsin River. This kayaking trip is for those who are seeking a challenging river experience. For this trip, you need to go to the Lower Wisconsin River. There you will find a wide and flat river. At this portion of the river, there are no dams or rapids for you to hurdle.

This is the spot between Sauk City and Prairie Du Sac. As you travel in your kayak, you will see tall bluffs that rise under the canopies of dense and lush forests. You will also be greeted with lots of amazing scenery along with their concomitant wildlife.

11. Mecan River

For some of the best kayaking in Wisconsin, you can go to the Mecan River. Mecan River is located at Nekooska, Wisconsin, specifically at the Germania Marsh Dam. But it is really a flowage, not a marsh. You will enjoy a smooth kayak trip if you will remain straight like an arrow going from Eagle Road to Highway J. Bridge. 

Along the way are lots of beautiful prairie lands, sandy banks, and several farmhouses. Stacks of rocks have funneled the channel. The stretch is about six miles, which will usually take three and a half hours to negotiate.

There’s a notion that many kayaking teams prefer this area. So, if you are a beginner and would like to pick up some pointers from the seasoned pros, this is the place you need to go.

12. Fox River

Do you want to perfect your techniques in kayaking? Fox River at Governor Road is just the right spot for you. This river has a peaceful and calm current. It is an ideal spot if you want to practice your kayaking skills.

Launch your kayak at Governor Bend Park and go straight ahead for about five and a half miles. You will not encounter any difficult hurdles or challenging currents along the way. This is just relaxing kayaking that you will enjoy. Take out your kayak at Highway O.

13. Mirror Lake

Another place for Wisconsin Dells kayaking is Mirror Lake. They describe this lake as “slow no wake” that’s why there is no need for you to watch out for fast PWCs or boats. This is, therefore, one of the best Wisconsin kayaking destinations.

Mirror Lake offers fantastic views of red and white towering pines backdropped by sandstone bluffs. This spot is also popular among other water sports enthusiasts.

During summer, you will see fishing boats, canoes, paddleboards, and of course, kayaks crowding each other on the water. That’s understandable because the place is wonderful.

14. Montello River

Next on our list of the best kayak trips in Wisconsin is, of course, the Wisconsin river itself. The clear waters of this Wisconsin River are also easy to paddle. As you kayak on its peaceful waters, you will be treated with big wooded landscapes and large tree overhangs.

As you go farther down the river, you will notice that the current gets even quieter as the river gets wide.

kayak trips in Wisconsin

Launch your kayak by the bridge access at 11th Road. After paddling for more than three and a half miles, you need to take your kayak out at the public boat ramp off at Lake Street. You will want to take plenty of photos when kayaking Wisconsin River due to its beautiful scenery.

15. Bois Brule River

This is another beautiful place to go kayaking in Wisconsin. It is one of the most popular rivers east of the Mississippi. The kayak trip in this river includes a 16 mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

16. Whitewater Park of Wausau

For whitewater kayaking in Wisconsin, you should go to the Whitewater Park of Wausau. If you want an adrenaline rush, the Whitewater Park at Wausau should be your thing. Go to the Wisconsin River and head to Wausau.

The park in this place is a haven for top boaters in the USA. It also hosts several regional and national whitewater competitions in the country.

17. Kickapoo River

This river is located in the Driftless Area in Wisconsin. It is one of the most popular Wisconsin River kayaking and canoeing spots. Its waters wind their way through a deep valley with very high limestone cliffs rising above the river.

There is a stretch of about 22 miles that is the most scenic spot in this river. It is located between La Farge and Ontario. The river also winds its way through both the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the Wildcat Mountain State Park.

This kayaking spot reveals its special beauty during the fall months.

Conclusion: Kayak in Wisconsin – Best 17 Places for Kayaking in Wisconsin

The 17 best spots where you can kayak in Wisconsin are the following:

  1. Neenah Creek
  2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Meyers Rd – Bayfield, WI
  3. Harbor District and the Kinnickinnic River
  4. Madeline Island Sea Caves
  5. “Upper Dells”
  6. The Mighty Pine
  7. Miller Park
  8. Namekagon River
  9. Plover River-Pinery Road to Shantytown Dr., WI
  10. Lower Wisconsin River
  11. Mecan River-Nekoosa, Wisconsin
  12. Fox River
  13. Mirror Lake
  14. Montello River
  15. Bois Brule River
  16. Wausau’s Whitewater Park
  17. The Kickapoo River

Wisconsin is a famous place for kayaking, so if you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, then Wisconsin is definitely a place you should visit.