Wisconsin River
★ ★ ★ ★

Wisconsin River VI

By on September 2, 2011

Dekorra to Whalen Bay
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A random curiosity trip on a stretch of the river in between Portage and Prairie du Sac that features a surprising array of beautiful scenery. The only catches are sharing the river with a lot of motorboats, the noise of the interstate highway, and the beginning of huge Lake Wisconsin.

August 15, 2011

Class Difficulty:

Wisconsin Dells: n/a

Recommended Levels:
We recommend this level. Water levels are almost always reliable on the Wisconsin.

Dekorra Boat Landing, County Highway V
Whalen Grade Public Boat Landing, County Highway V

Time: Put in at 5:00p. Out at 7:00p.
Total Time: 2h
Miles Paddled: 7.75

What we liked:
The section from Dekorra to Whalen Bay is an easy, absolutely delightful last stretch of the Wisconsin River before it bulges out into Lake Wisconsin, with tons of sandbar islands for camping or picnicking, rolling bluffs, rock outcroppings.

Seldom paddled is the section of the Wisconsin in between Portage and Sauk City – and not without good reason: the bluffs are few and far between, as are the sandbars and islands, but there is a huge power plant and there are a lot of residential houses. Most notably, though, the river effectively becomes a lake – so-called Lake Wisconsin, a 15-mile impoundment thanks to the dam in Prairie du Sac (happily, the last dam on the entire river) – where power boats and jet skis rule, even a free ferry boomerangs back and forth connecting the loose ends of Hwy 113. So unless you like little current, being splashed if not outright swamped by engine- or wind-made waves, this sections’ best left to motors.

Except for the short but delightful stretch mentioned here!

The accesses are excellent. There are charming wooded bluffs, rolling hills, and a surprisingly impressive exposed rock outcropping “wall” towards the end of the trip. From the put-in, the bridge for the interstates is only 1.5 miles away, so depending on the wind you’ll begin hearing it sooner than later. But it’s worth it. This is a perfect late afternoon paddle when you don’t have a lot of time but really want to be on the water for an hour or two. The scenery is every bit as splendid as the lower Wisconsin, just more condensed. In fact, I thought this segment made a neat transition and an uncanny mix of the Wisconsin closer to the Dells and that down by Boscobel: a smorgasbord of woods and sandbars, rolling bluffs and rock formations.

What we didn’t like:
While this segment avoids the worst of the “lake bulge” and the choppy waves, you still have to cut a 45-degree angle turn and paddle a good mile through the slack water of Whalen Bay. Not a big deal at all, but a nuisance.

If we did this trip again:
First of all, I absolutely will! I might start further upstream a bit and put in at the confluence with the Baraboo River (see Baraboo River) just to tack a couple more miles.

Related Information:
Wisconsin River V: Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin River VII: Downtown Dells to Norway Drive
Wisconsin River IX: Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin River XI: Portage to Dekorra
Wisconsin River XIII: Pine Island to Portage
Wisconsin River XIV: River Bay Road to Norway Drive
Wikipedia: Wisconsin River


Shuttle Information:

6.5 miles all along Cty V. Only one notable but not too difficult hill towards the end, but once at the top you start heading down; gravity will take you the whole way back to your car at the landing without having to pedal once – a great way to finish! Very little car traffic to worry about, too.

Photo Gallery:


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Sorry for deleting your great question about other launch sites – the long link was causing havoc…

    Anyway… there are oodles of boat launch options along that Tipperary Rd peninsula, but many of them are private. Here is the official DNR list of the public ones: http://1.usa.gov/1OtYlz3

    Have fun!

  • I think the link you want for water level is here.

    I just did this at 8000 cfs/5 feet. My favorite part was right at the beginning, where I spotted an opening in the trees across the river. Turned out the river had spilled over into a forest and turned it into basically a swamp where you could paddle any direction between all the logs and trees.

    I saw a big group of blue cranes on the trip (not "blue cranes", but blue birds with long legs), walking far out on the sandbar.

    That last slack water bit does suck. It looks like the bay is 1/4 mile wide but it does turn out to be a whole mile across.

    Thanks for your review, I went based on it and it was an interesting paddle for such a large river! Navigating between all the sandbars had surprising current and depth changes.

  • Hey Noumenon,

    Thanks for the correct link. We know exactly where you're talking about. It sounds like a unique excursion! We're really glad you did this "dark horse" section of the Wisconsin River! It's a pretty gem in its own right. The first – and alas, only – time Timothy has been propositioned to while paddling was during this trip. Nothing transpired, we swear! But it was certainly flattering. The slack water is a drag, but at least it's in a pretty area. The surprising current and depth changes in the sandbars are precisely why so many individuals have tragically drowned on the Wisconsin River (and others of its size). It's why one always has to be careful, either by knowing how to swim and/or wearing a life jacket. Anyway, thanks for reaching out to us, and we're really glad this trip worked for you! Cheers!


Miles Paddled documents canoe and kayak trips on rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin.

Say Hello or Contribute

Ahnapee River

Apple River (IL)

    Apple River
    4.20.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East Canyon Road to South Apple River Road

Ashippun River

    Ashippun River
    9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Ashippun Lake to Ski Slide Road

Badfish Creek

Baraboo River

Bark River

    Bark River III
    4.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway 83 to Delafield Road

    Bark River II
    4.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Merton to Highway 83

    Bark River I
    7.15.10 | ☆ ☆
    Burnt Village County Park to Fort Atkinson

Beaver Dam River

Big Bureau Creek (IL)

    Big Bureau Creek
    6.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150

Big Rib River

    Big Rib River
    5.10.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Goodrich to County Road A

Billings Creek

    Billings Creek
    8.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road F to Landing 10

Black Earth Creek

Black River

Black River: East Fork

Bois Brule River

Boundary Waters (MN)

Cannon River (MN)

    Cannon River
    5.31.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Faribault to Dundas

Carroll Creek (IL)

    Carroll Creek II
    6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

    Carroll Creek I
    4.26.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

Catfish Creek (IA)

    Catfish Creek
    5.7.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mines of Spain to Massey Marina Park

Cedar Creek

    Cedar Creek
    9.28.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road M to Cedarburg

Coon Fork Creek

Covel Creek (IL)

    Covel Creek
    6.18.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East 18th Road to Highway 71

Crawfish River

Crawfish River: North Branch

Crystal River

Dell Creek

    Dell Creek
    3.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    South Avenue to Dellwood

Door Creek

    Door Creek
    4.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Femrite Drive to Fish Camp County Park

Duck Creek

    Duck Creek
    3.23.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road G to Duck Creek Road

Eau Claire River

Eau Galle River

Embarrass River

Flambeau River: North Fork

Fox River

    Fox River II
    4.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road O to Endeavor

    Fox River I
    5.14.14 | ☆ ☆
    Swan Lake to Portage Canal

Fox River (IL)

Galena/Fever River

Grand River

Grant River

    Grant River IV
    4.24.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River III
    4.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

    Grant River II
    11.21.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River I
    5.23.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

Halls Creek

    Halls Creek II
    8.9.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Garage Road to Halls Creek Landing

    Halls Creek I
    6.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Honey Creek

Jump River

    Jump River
    8.30.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park

Kickapoo River

Kickapoo River: West Fork

Kinnickinnic River

Kishwaukee River (IL)

Koshkonong Creek

La Crosse River

Lake Columbia

Lake Mendota

Lake Michigan

Lake Superior

Lake Waubesa

Lemonweir River

Little Platte River

Little Wolf River

Maunesha River

Mecan River

Mill Creek

Milwaukee River

Milwaukee River: East Branch

Mink River

Mirror Lake

    Mirror Lake II
    10.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

    Mirror Lake I
    5.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Montello River

    Montello River
    11.8.16-11.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Harrisville to 11th Road

Mormon Creek

    Mormon Creek
    8.3.14 | ☆ ☆
    Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

Morrison Creek

Mukwonago River

Mullet River

    Mullet River
    10.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Plymouth to County Road M

Namekagon River

    Namekagon River
    7.16-7.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road K to Riverside

Neenah Creek

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Oconomowoc River

Old Pearl River (LA)

    Old Pearl River
    4.3.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Crawford Landing Road to Indian Village Road

Onion River

    Onion River II
    10.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road A to County Road V

    Onion River I
    9.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road V to Sheboygan Falls

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshtigo River

    Peshtigo River
    9.2.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Burnt Bridge to Goodman Park

Pigeon River

    Pigeon River
    12.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Lake Michigan

Pine River

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Platte River

Plover River

    Plover River
    5.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Jordan Park to Iverson Park

Prairie River

    Prairie River II
    5.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road C to Stange’s Park

    Prairie River I
    11.17.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Haymeadow Creek to Prairie Road

Puchyan River

    Puchyan River
    04.19.15 | ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Huckleberry Road

Red River

    Red River
    12.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Gresham to County Road A

Red Cedar River

Robinson Creek

    Robinson Creek
    7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Rock Creek

    Rock Creek
    3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Root River

    Root River
    8.2.13 | ☆ ☆
    5 Mile Road to Horlick Dam

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Rubicon River

Seeley Creek

    Seeley Creek
    5.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road

Six Mile Creek

    Six Mile Creek
    6.7.14 | ☆
    Waunakee Village Park to South Woodland Drive

Spring Creek

    Spring Creek
    4.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Fair Street to County Road V

St. Croix River

Starkweather Creek

Sugar Creek

Sugar River

Token Creek

    Token Creek III
    5.22.11 | ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek II
    8.22.09 | ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek I
    5.2.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Tomorrow River

    Tomorrow River
    7.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Rolling Hills Road to Amherst

Trappe River

    Trappe River
    8.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road WW to Wisconsin River Road

Trempealeau River

Turtle Creek

Upper Iowa River (IA)

    Upper Iowa River
    5.24.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road

Waupaca River

    Waupaca River V
    10.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Amherst to Durrant Road

    Waupaca River IV
    4.12.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River III
    9.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway DD to County Highway Q

    Waupaca River II
    7.7.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River I
    7.9.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Wausau Whitewater Park

Wedges Creek

    Wedges Creek
    9.20.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Middle Road to Black River Lodge Resort

White River

Wisconsin River

Wolf River

Yahara River

Yellow Creek (IL)

    Yellow Creek
    4.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Bolton Road to Krape Park

Yellow River

Yellow River (IA)

    Yellow River II
    5.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old Sixteen Road to Highway 76

    Yellow River I
    5.5.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway X16 to Old Sixteen Road

Zumbro River (MN)

    Zumbro River
    6.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Zumbro Falls to Millville
Support the Cause
Timothy's guidebook is out! Order on Amazon.com.

Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!