Wisconsin River
★ ★ ★

Wisconsin River VIII

By on July 2, 2013

Lone Rock to Muscoda
☆ ☆ ☆

A normally beautiful stretch of the lower Wisconsin River with tons of sandbar islands, rolling bluffs and a couple of rock outcroppings, that in high water is a bit adulterated.

June 22-23, 2013

Class Difficulty:

Muscoda: ht/ft: 5.70 | cfs: 25,000

Recommended Levels:
This is too high to paddle. Instead, we recommend between 5,000 – 10,000 cfs on the Muscoda gauge. Water levels are almost always reliable on the Wisconsin, however, they can change drastically change at a moments notice.

Highway 130, Lone Rock, Wisconsin
Victoria Park, River Road, Muscoda, Wisconsin

Day 1: 6.22.13
Time: Put in at 2:15p. Out at 6:30p.
Miles Paddled: 11.5

Day 2: 6.23.13
Time: n/a (about 45 minutes)
Miles Paddled: 2.25

Total Time: 5h
Total Miles: 13.75

Wildlife: Several bald eagles, a couple blue herons, a flopping carp, a baby sturgeon (the little guy looked like a tiny shark), a disgusting wolf spider (still gives me the creeps thinking ‘bout him!), a handful of turtles and a peacock (unseen but too many times heard, an exotic pet no doubt on somebody’s property).
Time worth driving to: 3 hours

What we liked:
Any time spent on the lower Wisconsin River is wonderful. The scenery could not be more soothing to the soul. You’re on “river time” and you feel like you’re on an adventure (at least when camping on a sandbar island) and have a mission. It really is one of my favorite things to do.

What we didn’t like:
High water! Sure, it helps you move faster but the tradeoff is vanished scenery. Worse, it leaves you with pretty slim pickins for places to stop and have lunch, hang out or set up camp.

Flood for thought: Heed the warnings of your weather radio! In retrospect, we really shouldn’t have been on the water this weekend. The forecast was dicey in general with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms for Saturday and 10 percent for Sunday but the real issue was the huge rain dump we got the night before (as in 9 inches). We were warned by some helpful locals that the boat launch parking area where we wanted to put-in (on the Iowa County side of the river off of Highway 130 at the mouth of Otter Creek) would be underwater by nighttime. Well, let me tell you, that leaves an impression on even an unimaginative mind! So we thought it most prudent to leave the car elsewhere, which meant for practical purposes using a different put-in (Spoiler alert: the parking area did not flood over but the creek sure did rise a couple of feet).

As a casual reader of my trips would know, I have something of an unintentional penchant for getting myself into sticky situations, at least when paddling alone. This one-night camping jaunt involved four total people, two of whom are inexperienced paddlers and not necessarily “tough-it-out” folks. I personally thought that the weather was too risky to warrant camping out, well, anywhere, much less a small sandbar island on a huge river. But my friends thought my misgivings exaggerated. And lord knows I love camping on the river, so I don’t require too much commonsense about when not to do it.

But we shouldn’t have done it. True, all we lost was a good night sleep, which, given the other alternative running through our minds – the river rising so quickly that we’d have to make an emergency evacuation in the dead of night during pouring rain, thunder, and lightning – didn’t seem like too bad a deal. But a nice time of camping it was not. Though what it lacked in lazing around a campfire drinking a couple beers and hanging out was more than made up for in dazzling adrenaline and trepidation. The funny thing was we only found one single sandbar to camp on, the rest were underwater. But that sandbar ended up being less than a mile from our take-out in Muscoda, where it’s worth pointing out that there’s a riverside public park where you can camp. Granted, it looks like lackluster camping, but at least it’s on high, dry ground.

Not so funny: About fifty canoeists were rescued on the river that same night we were on it. I have no idea what their circumstances were but I can easily imagine that they too could not find anywhere safe to stay the night. At the time of this writing, Boscobel, only sixteen river miles from Muscoda (and fewer in land miles) still has roads closed due to flash flooding and mudslides. In fact, all of southwestern Wisconsin is in a state of emergency, with current estimates higher than $6 million in damage. So again, pay attention to the forecast and don’t be dumb about it. You can always camp and paddle another time. Besides, don’t let the experience of high water and storms take away from the normally unimpeachable beauty of this part of the state or the captivating experience of being on this wonderful river.

If we did this trip again:
I would put in upstream of the Highway 130 bridge (southern shore of the river, aka the Iowa County side) because there’s a long attractive rock wall that you miss if you put-in where we did. Plus the otherwise stately bridge is better appreciated. And needless to say I will not do this trip in high water after a crazy-ass thunderstorm the night before (or one during the night I camp, preferably).

Related Information:
Wisconsin River Overview: Lower Wisconsin River Paddle Guide
Wisconsin River I: Boscobel to Wyalusing
Wisconsin River II: Gotham to Boscobel
Wisconsin River III: Arena to Gotham
Wisconsin River IV: Prairie Du Sac to Arena
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


Shuttle Information:

15 miles, a very pretty trip.

Photo Gallery:


  • Andrew Henry Ford

    Any parking regulations or fees at Muscoda Landing?

    • Not that we are aware of (but things change from time to time).


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 III
    5.6.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

    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!