The majority (close to 85%) of our customers choose to camp out on a sandbar in the river. It’s a popular trip. Seriously. Ask anyone that’s ever tried to book a last minute rental in July or August. That said, you won’t see a million people packed boat to boat. You’ve got 25 miles of sandbars to choose from and the river is often several hundred yards wide or more. And if true solitude is your thing, take a day off of work in the middle of the week. Whether it’s just you, twenty friends, or two hundred boy scouts, there’s room and we’d be happy to get you out there.
First time? Be prepared!
How long should your trip be?
- Average non-stop paddle speed of 3-4mph (including current)
- 3-4 hours of paddling will feel like a solid day
- Better to be a little short than a little long
- Erring on the side of less instead of more is generally a good bet
- Larger groups typically prefer more sandbar socializing, less paddling
- West winds can pick up early in the afternoon and usually stop at 7pm
When figuring out how far you’ll want to go, know that the average paddler (this includes Wisconsin Canoe staff) travels downriver at 3-4 mph when paddling at a constant rate in normal conditions. That means 25 miles will take ~7 to 8 hours of nonstop paddling – no wind, no coasting, no breaks, no sandbars.
In our experience, even the most ambitious groups will not want to paddle more than 5 hours in a day (3.5-4 feels like a good, full day) and you’ll want to leave extra time for the prevailing west winds, floating with the current, and sandbar time. Groups of 4 or more boats tend to move much slower than a smaller group of 1 or 2 boats. West winds typically pick up in the afternoon – morning paddling is best paddling. The winds usually stop in the late afternoon/evening.
If it’s your first time and you’re not sure how far your group will want to go, the best advice I can offer is plan for slightly less distance than you think the group can handle. There’s no rush going downstream, especially since your cars are waiting for you at the end. It’s better to have the distance be too short rather than too long. An extra hour on a sandbar is much more desirable (and typical) than an extra unwanted hour in a canoe. If the trip turns out to be too short, now you know for next time. If it turns out to be too long, there may not be a next time.
What Happens Now?
Confirm your trip length
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect for the Arena, Mazomanie, and Prairie Du Sac trips, you’ll want to confirm this option with your group. We can always change your trip length later if you’re having second thoughts but you’ll need to pick an option when you make the reservation.
Decide on a shuttle departure time
Find a departure time from Spring Green that works best for you. Shuttles to Arena, Mazomanie, and Prairie Du Sac typically run everyday at 10am and 12pm. On Fridays we run an additional shuttle at 3pm and on Saturdays during peak season we run additional shuttles at 9am and 11am to all landings. You’ll be able to see exactly what shuttles are available and how many more people can ride them when you book your trip. Groups of 6 or more should drop off passengers and gear at the trip starting point on the way out for convenience (see: driver only shuttles) for more details and landing drop-off locations.
Reserve your boats
At this point, you’re ready to rent your canoes and kayaks. We take our reservations through an automated online booking system. To reserve online, select the date your trip will begin and end to see exactly what’s available. We require reservations at least 36 hours in advance (a Saturday departure typically needs to be booked by 11:59pm Thursday) so don’t wait until the last minute.
On the day of your trip
Plan for your drivers to arrive at the Peck’s Landing (Hwy 23@WI River) canoe launch at least 15 minutes before your shuttle departure. Your vehicle will remain here and if you haven’t dropped your stuff off upriver, you’ll unpack and reload everything onto our shuttle bus. Shuttles leave exactly when scheduled (earlier if everyone with a reservation arrives early) and will not wait for stragglers (stragglers will be put on the next available shuttle and may be responsible for the shuttle fee – $2.50/mile as of 2023). If this will be your first trip with us you might not realize how serious we are about leaving on time – the bus WILL leave without you.
After being dropped off at your start point upstream with your boat rentals you’ll begin your trip downstream back to your vehicle. You’ve got the full length of your rental period to stop at sandbars, play in the river, etc. Because your vehicle is waiting at the end, you’ll be able to pack up and leave as soon as you’re back. There is no set time you’ll need to finish, you just need to be off the water by 6pm on the last day of your rental period. You’ll leave our equipment at the landing where we come through regularly throughout the day to pick it up.