The most popular 3 day/2night (typically Fri-Sun) option that we offer is the 25 mile stretch of river from Prairie Du Sac to Spring Green. This passes through Sauk City, Ferry Bluff, and Arena. Also, Wisconsin’s only nude beach is on this strip of river (no pun intended). Don’t worry, the beach can be avoided, and if you weren’t worried, it can be accessed.
You’ll start out within sight of the last dam on the Wisconsin River and paddle down behind the Prairie Du Sac/Sauk City main streets. After passing an abandoned, half dismantled railroad bridge you’ll only see a few houses for the rest of the trip. You can find a pretty sweet view of the river from the top of Ferry Bluff after a half-mile hike up from the river (this will be on the map we provide you).
In most cases, you’re free to set up camp on any sandbar you come across. The few that aren’t available for camping are near the nude beach and clearly marked as no camping allowed. Most of the best sandbars start to show up in large numbers at or below Arena but the best sandbars are also the first to be taken.
The 10 mile Arena to Spring Green stretch is one of the best on the river. Very little development, tons of sandbars, and an easy finish in Spring Green (you can pack up your car and leave as soon as you arrive) makes this a great option if you’re looking for more of a social trip than a paddling trip. You’ll be able to paddle for a few hours, float with the current, and generally take it easy and have a good time with your friends (the ones you brought and/or the ones you just shared a sandbar with).
Nabbing a sandbar early means you’ll get your pick of them. It also means you’ll have plenty of time to spend the day playing games, drinking beers, and sitting around the campfire. The relatively short distance you’ll need to travel in the morning is usually a welcome relief to those that may have partied a little too hard or are ready to get back to the cars and on the way to a shower.
Decide How Far to Paddle
- 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 6pm
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 3 or more boats tend to move much slower than a small group of 1 or 2 boats. West winds typically pick up in the afternoon – morning paddling is best paddling. The winds usually stop around 6pm.
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. You’ll need to pick an option when you make the reservation.
Decide on a shuttle departure
Find a departure time from Spring Green that works best for you. Shuttles to Arena, Mazomanie, and Prairie Du Sac run everyday at 9am, 11am, and 1pm. On Saturdays during peak season we run additional shuttles at 10am and 12pm to all landings. Groups of 6 or more may want to drop off passengers and gear on the way out for convenience and faster shuttles (see: driver only shuttles) for me details and landing locations.
Reserve your boats
At this point, you’re ready to reserve 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 reservation
Plan 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 everything will be loaded onto the shuttle if you haven’t already dropped off gear and passengers upriver. 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 be responsible for the $2.50/rivermile shuttle fee). We are serious about leaving on time. After being dropped off at your start point upstream, your rentals and gear will be unloaded and 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. If you still have more questions, check our Frequently Asked Questions page.