Kayaking or canoeing the Wisconsin River is a true treat. The beautiful, open waters and scenic setting make this trip the picture of tranquility. The river is packed with idyllic sandbars seemingly designed for having a good time — you can picnic, camp, run around or lounge at a number of spots along the way. The river is famous for these sandbars, making it one of the most popular overnight kayak and canoe destinations in the region. And rightfully so. We ended up with an ideal spot about halfway through our route. On our private beach island, with its 360° views and pristine white sand beaches, we had found our own personal paradise.
Though we were there on a particularly slow day, the Wisconsin River typically has a fairly steady current which makes it an easy paddle. This is great for families, beginners or leisure trips. Combined with optimum camping conditions provided by the soft sand and wide open beaches, this spot will turn first-timers into life-timers.
The only real downside to paddling the Wisconsin River is that, well, it’s in Wisconsin, making it a tricky day trip from Chicago. But with camping like this, it’d be a shame not to stay overnight anyway. Just like the Fox River paddle, there are more standard campgrounds at designated areas, but to pass up these beautiful, secluded sandbars to stay at a packed roadside campsite would be doing yourself a disservice. It’s hard to dream up more perfect conditions and if you’ve never camped off-site before, this is the trip to try it out.