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.
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.
This is why people come here. The sandbars are big, the river is wide, and you’re free to set up camp anywhere that looks good. The river has been protected from development so long that it looks much the same now as it did a hundred years ago. This is legit backcountry camping – no site numbers, no permits, no picnic tables, no nothing. Whether you’re planning the first trip or the fiftieth, our canoe camping page has all of the information you’ll need.
First time coming out? Or maybe just a little fuzzy on the details? Our frequently asked questions page has just about everything people have asked us about at least twice. Odds are, your answer is in there. That said, the number of questions has gotten a little unruly so if you’re not able to easily find what you’re looking for, just ask us!
Just want to come out and paddle a canoe or kayak for the day? We can do that. Bring your friends or family out for a leisurely day of sandbar hopping while maintaining the option to sleep in a real bed afterwards. Arena to Spring Green is our regular day trip section and for good reason – it has the highest concentration of sandbars on the river. Even on the busiest weekends, there is plenty of distance between you and anyone else on the water.
All of us at Wisconsin Canoe have dumped our collective river knowledge onto the pages of our trip planning section. If you have a question about what to do in a storm, the best way to set up the kitchen, how to find the ideal sandbar, or any of a million other things, the answer can be found here. Probably. You’ll be able to get hourly river condition updates, forecasts, packing lists, food lists, tips, tricks, and everything else you might want to know.
The graphs on this page are the result of data collected in real time by the US Geological Survey. We’ve provided the gauge height (river depth), flow rates (current), water temperature, and expected changes in water levels over the next few days or so. This should give you a better idea of what kind of river conditions to expect on your trip and provide a point of reference for anyone concerned with river conditions.
The river trail maps on this page were created and provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They are the most up to date and detailed maps publicly available. For those of you renting through us, you will be provided with a waterproof topographic map covering your route and containing more specific information regarding your trip (rules, emergency contact info, the nearest bathroom, etc.)
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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.
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Behind the Scenes
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 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.
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.