Can You Canoe?

Prime spots to paddle and places to rent abound…

Aug. 15, 2016
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Deeply satisfying and the epitome of teamwork, canoeing is an activity that you can relax into at a meditative pace. One can allow for some leisurely drifting when out on the middle of their destination – or make for a great arm/core workout if they're up to breaking a sweat. Many of our Wisconsin State Park campgrounds have these watercrafts on site for rental, such as Mirror Lake State Park in Baraboo, or Mauthe Lake on the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit. Viewing your campground from a lake point- of-view can give a whole new perspective on the experience. You may notice details to appreciate in your surrounding flora and fauna that you might not have otherwise.

Word to the wise for the fair of skinned – do not, I repeat, do not venture out at noonday when the sun is bright in the sky and you are perched in an aluminum canoe. That's just asking for trouble. I don't care how strong your sunscreen boasts that it is. You're looking at the sun reflected back at you not just from the canoe but from the water as well. I learned this the hard way when I was a naive 16-year-old. After several Noxema-slathered days in the sheets later, I vowed, "never again."

Here are a few of my favorite spots to relax or get a good workout while enjoying nature in a canoe:


Aztalan State Park

I talked up this historic state park in my May OTBP blog of this year. A great spot to cart your canoe and glide onto the Crawfish River

For more ideas on where to hit the water, visit Water Trails in Wisconsin.


Urban Ecology Center (various locations)

If you don't own your own vessel or know someone who does, never fear – plenty of rentals are here! One of the most convenient is the Urban Ecology Center. They even throw in rigging so you can travel to the waterway of your choosing. For the price of a year-long $35 individual membership ($30 for students), it is definitely worth it. You even take a water safety course to boost your on-the-water confidence. For UEC locations and hours, go to


Sauk City Wisconsin River Outings (30 miles north of Madison)

Another worthwhile option, just outside of the Mad-town area is Sauk City Wisconsin River Outings, doing its paddling business off of Highway 12 for many years now. Amusingly, there is this statement on their website: "PLEASE keep in mind that there is a nude beach approximately 7 miles down river from our shop. To avoid this we HIGHLY recommend paddling out of Boscobel."

If this does not deter you, just shove off in one of their rentals from Sauk City. For more information and reservations, click here.


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