River Flow

River flow can change overnight with excessive rain or through water level management of Lake Wisconsin that is through the Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power and Light Company – Prairie du Sac Hydroelectric Project. Learning what the water levels are doing can help you determine if your trip will be difficult in low water times or hazardous if the water is high. Taking note of the river conditions using these services will help you in planning future river trips. Always secure your canoe and equipment well.

Flow Rate Guidelines

<4,000cfs (<1′ deep) – Very shallow riverway, many large sandbars. You may have to step out and push several times. Excellent conditions for sandbar camping!

4,000-10,000cfs (1′- 3′ deep) – Normal summer conditions, many medium to large-sized sandbars. Shallow riverway at low end of this range – occasionally, you may have to step out and push. Excellent conditions for sandbar camping!

10,000-14,000cfs (3′- 4′ deep) – Above normal flow conditions, noticeable undercurrents developing, especially in lee of sandbars and islands. Sandbars are smaller and fewer in number at high end of this range. Usually acceptable conditions for sandbar camping.

14,000-17,000cfs (4′- 5′ deep) – High flow conditions. Undercurrents above 4 mph develop, especially in lee of sandbars. Sandbars are few in number. Sandbar camping not recommended in this range.

17,000-20,000cfs (6′- 7′ deep) – High flow conditions with deceptively powerful undercurrents developing. Overnight camping on sandbars and beaches not recommended!

>20,000cfs (>7′ deep) – Paddling not recommended!


It is illegal to be in possession of glass on the Wisconsin River. Assume you WILL be searched by the WI Dept. of Natural Resources. If caught you will face a fine of up to $749 for the possession of glass (beer bottles, jelly jars, mayo jars, wine bottles).

Fireworks are also illegal and punishable by fines. We are trying to provide a peaceful experience for our paddlers and the many migratory birds that we share the river with. Leave your glass and fireworks at home and save yourself the fine for being in possession of them on the river.

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