Welcome to the Wisconsin Canoe Company

17 Billion Gallons

It’s official, we’re out of commission well into next week. We’re expecting over 40kcfs of water on our stretch of river by the middle of this weekend. Just a couple days ago we were at 5kcfs and our cutoff is 15kcfs so you can understand why seeing 40kcfs in the NOAA predictions makes cancelling all trips an easy call even a week out. Here’s a good idea of what’s coming with kcfs numbers on the right of the graph:

To put that 40kcfs number in perspective, that’s 300,000 gallons of water flowing past each second of the day.  Between the first rise and when we’re expected to get back to normal? 16,956,000,000 gallons. 17 billion additional gallons of water in 10 days. That’s enough to fill 1.7 million backyard swimming pools and you’d still have a river running at normal rates. That 40kcfs moving through the Wisconsin River is likely to be the highest ever recorded on that date.

What happened?

Northern and central Wisconsin have been getting hammered more often than not this week.  They’re currently looking at 600% of the usual amount of rain in the past week and our watershed runs right up the middle of it.


Turning it up to 11

This early in the summer the vast majority of central Wisconsin is still mostly barren cropland.  While the forests and grasses have long been fully leafed out, these brown fields allow a significant amount of that rainfall to go straight into the river system/watershed without getting absorbed into the ground (this is also when you’ll get all of the algae blooms and drop in water quality from farm runoff).

As these farm fields become fully grown, that water absorption rate goes way up and these storms create far less trouble downstream.  Unfortunately, we’re still a couple weeks from that happening and thus the massive spike in water levels from our relatively low base a few days ago. The image below shows what happens between May (brown), July (green), and two days ago (mostly green)

When will it be over?

This is our $10,000 question (because that’s about how much we’ve refunded this week).  I’m hoping we’ll see warm sunny skies as much as possible over the next 12 days in which case the river will take a steep dive right before the last weekend in June (the start of our peak season). How likely is that? Eh, I’m a little hesitant to guess, it’s just too soon.  The current predictions by the people that are paid to know these things say approximately next Tuesday but they also don’t take weather forecasts into account beyond 24 hours.  Realistically, I’d say this will be pushed back to Thursday or Friday based on the 10 day outlook statewide.  It does help that we’re getting closer to the heart of summer so when things start to drop, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop fast.  There’s also a lot of wishful thinking here – it’s never fun to see a wrench thrown into everyone’s plans.

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Why We’re The Best Canoe Company Ever

The Best Equipment

Our entire fleet of 150 Discovery canoes, Manitou kayaks, and Riviera kayaks are less than 4 years old. These boats are made of a heavy duty polyethylene composite that is very quiet, doesn’t heat up in the sun like the standard aluminum boats, and are essentially indestructible. We also provide everyone with comfortable, ski-style life jackets and outfitter grade paddles.


The Best Shuttle System

We transport you upriver at the beginning of your trip where you then paddle back to your car. This way, there’s no need to fast paddle back to a shuttle only to be packed into a bus full of sweaty, sandy people for a long ride back to your car. Instead, when you go with us, you’re free to canoe the river at your own pace, and because your car is already at the end when you finish, there’s no need to wait around. You just pack up and go.


The Best Communication

Your entire reservation can be completed online, we’ll send you reminder emails, give you waterproof maps to take on the river, and if something goes wrong, we have staff on the emergency line 24 hours a day. In the meantime, we are always available via phone, email, text message, and facebook – even twitter if that’s your thing (but really, please don’t use twitter). You can also check our current (literally up to the second) availability when planning your trip and get a guarantee that we’ll have every single one of your boats ready and waiting for you on the shuttle you’ve chosen for the days you’ve reserved.


The Best Atmosphere

Wisconsin Canoe is a bunch of kids living the dream and avoiding the real world. We’re out on the water having fun, same as our customers, which means we tend to be very laid back and approachable. If you have a question or you’re unsure of something, we’ll help and probably won’t even judge you.



What Our Customers Say

Everything about our trip was excellent, and Wisconsin Canoe Company lived up to their website’s claim. The canoes were in excellent condition, all of the equipment was well-maintained, the shuttle was exactly on time and we were on the river within ten minutes of being dropped off. I’ve canoed with my own equipment on the James and Roanoke rivers in Virginia, and honestly I would rather enjoy the convenience of such a well-run rental and shuttle. They even welcomed our yellow lab on the canoe and shuttle, and she had a wonderful day out on the river. These are great folks that love their job!

Keith Brick

What a great experience with Wisconsin Canoe Company. I have rented from a lot of other day trip places on the Wisconsin River and this place is by far the best. The online reservation system was so nice, the canoes were great, the bus was clean and the staff was friendly. Can’t say enough great things. Won’t even think about researching another place in the future; will go right to this place.

Sara Ward-Cassidy

Excellent service, friendly staff, easy to use online site and simple instructions. My friends and I took an overnight during the weekend of the 4th and absolutely loved it! The entire experience was hassle-free and totally relaxing. Definitely a repeat on my bucket list! Thanks WCC! Long live Big Burrito

Lesly Boey

Behind the Scenes

Ryan Schmudlach

Given his degree in Economics from UW-Madison, it was inevitable that Ryan would be put to use on the business side of the canoe operation. Doing fancy things with spreadsheets is a secret passion for someone that is more often found miles from civilization.

    Norah Schmudlach

    Norah is our first solution to the annual staffing shortage. While she’s got a steep learning curve ahead of her, she’s already shown progress grabbing canoe paddles and assisting Amy with check-in at the landing.

      Amy Schmudlach

      Baking extraordinaire, cancer survivor, and the nicest person you will ever meet. In between collecting life jackets and greeting customers, Amy finished her degree in Rehabilitation Psychology at UW-Madison. More importantly, she has the uncanny ability to put up with Ryan for years on end.