Wisconsin River II
Gotham to Boscobel
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This section has less bluffs and geologic scenery as other sections but it makes up for it with a more remote feel and enough wildlife to keep it interesting. You’ll surely spot some eagles, bass jumping and carp surfacing.
September 5-7, 2009
These were low levels but still recommendable for this section. Water levels are almost always reliable on the Wisconsin, however, they can change drastically change at a moments notice.
Lone Rock Public Boat Landing, Gotham, Wisconsin
Floyd Von Haden Boat Landing, Boscobel, Wisconsin
Day 1: 9.5.09
Time: Put in at 12:15p. Out at 4:45p.
Miles Paddled: 10.25
Day 2: 9.6.09
Time: Put in at 11:00a. Out at 2:45p.
Miles Paddled: 8.75
Day 3: 9.7.09
Time: Put in at 11:15a. Out at 12:15p.
Miles Paddled: 4.5
Total Time: 9h 25m
Total Miles: 23.5
What we liked:
We decided to continue our journey down the Lower Wisconsin Riverway by tackling it in reverse order. Having paddled the last section from Boscobel to Wyalusing State Park, we chose to kayak the section before it, Gotham to Boscobel. This time however, we made it a 3-day trip and actually planned it correctly, spacing out the mileage in much more manageable increments. It made for a wonderful weekend on the water.
The put-in at Gotham is a nice place to start. The parking can be a little challenging and there is a sign that says no overnight parking but that doesn’t seem to stop anybody.
This was a very different river than the first time around for many reasons. The current was incredibly swift, the shallows were easy to navigate and we didn’t have to contend with any major headwinds. With the water moving so briskly, we could’ve paddled (or floated I guess) more miles each day with relative ease but we like to have a little daylight to explore, set up camp, gather firewood, hang out on the sandbars, fish and prep for cocktail hour.
In normal current, 8-12 miles is a realistic amount of distance to attempt in a day and is now our general rule-of-thumb. That of course, depends on water level and wind which will always affect a canoe or kayak trip on a river as wide as this one.
It was Labor Day weekend so we did have more company than perhaps an ordinary one. Even on a non-holiday weekend, you can expect it to be busier than Boscobel to Wyalusing because there are more towns as you make your way up river towards Prairie Du Sac (and you’re getting much closer to Madison too). The first night we were serenaded to the sounds of some very excited little girls within definite earshot, who seemed to be enjoying their first camping overnight as evidenced by their constant screams of glee and excitement.
Overall, this was a great section. It was a beautiful early-September paddle with enough scenery and wildlife to keep it interesting. We saw some bald eagles and plenty of bass jumping in the water as well as a few carp. The bluffs were beautiful, a sight you rarely encounter on the stretch from Boscobel to Wyalusing. It’s the kind of beauty you come to expect on the Lower 92. Despite the holiday-weekend congestion, we had great few days on the water.
The take-out at the Floyd Von Haden boat landing in Boscobel is a fantastic access point, one of the best on the entire stretch of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. It has lots of parking and easy ramp access to the water.
What we didn’t like:
Labor Day Weekend was probably the wrong time to take this trip. The river was busy which isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s finding a campsite that was difficult on our first night. Every place we had mapped out was taken. We found a pretty nice spot our first night but we had neighbors on each side. The second night was completely different. We found a beautiful spot with nobody around. Also, the fishing was so-so (but the turtles were biting).
If we did this trip again:
We’d probably avoid a major holiday weekend whenever possible but even that wouldn’t stop us from going again because the Lower Wisconsin is such a beautiful and enjoyable paddle. It’s a popular canoe and kayak destination because you can camp practically anywhere which makes it an ideal place to spend a weekend paddling and camping.
Wisconsin River Overview: Lower Wisconsin River Paddle Guide
Wisconsin River I: Boscobel to Wyalusing
Wisconsin River III: Arena to Gotham
Wisconsin River IV: Prairie Du Sac to Arena
Wisconsin River VIII: Lone Rock to Muscoda
Miles Paddled Maps: Lower Wisconsin Riverway Mileage
Miles Paddled Video: Wisconsin River IV: Prairie Du Sac to Arena
Article: Lower Wisconsin River Worth Getaway
Guide: Wisconsin Trail Guide
Overview: Wisconsin Guides
Wikipedia: Wisconsin River