Baraboo River

At one time the Baraboo River was blocked by 4 dams.  Today they have been all removed making the Baraboo river one of the longest stretches of open river in the country.  However for this trip we’re going to look at a day trip directly through the city of Baraboo.

My favorite day trip on the Baraboo river begins at a small park on Hatchery Rd., west of Baraboo and heads downstream until to a takeout point on Highway 113 on the east side of the city of Baraboo. There is an outhouse, picnic table and grill at the small wayside launching point and you are almost guaranteed to have it to yourself. Launching can be tricky on the steep banks but is doable. From there, the route takes 4-5 hours depending on the current and how much time you spend exploring. Along the way you can expect to see heron, geese, ducks and an occasional bald eagle if you are lucky.  Some enjoy trying a bit of fishing along the route as well. There are a few interesting rock formations just west of the city and a small waterfall for the observant among you. The route then takes you through the city of Baraboo where you will have opportunities to stop at local parks or walk into town for lunch. You’ll also paddle directly past Circus World Museum and if you are lucky you may have elephants sharing the water with you!

The Baraboo River at most times is a slow shallow river with areas of shallow rapids. Under normal conditions the Baraboo is a fairly easy river to paddle by canoe or kayak. The small rapids are just enough to make the trip exciting for inexperienced paddlers but not scary.  If the water is too low you can find yourself getting hung up often and needing to get out and walk around shallows (Most often in late summer), otherwise there are few obstacles. That said, during floods the river can be quite swift and should not be paddled by anyone other than experienced paddlers. Luckily the river is rarely running high.

On the Google map below begin with the first yellow (furthest left) icon and slide the map to move right and follow the route. You can of course zoom to take it all in at once as well. Each yellow icon along the route can be clicked for more details about that spot. Sadly there are no outfitters in town so you’ll have to bring your own gear and arrange your own shuttle.

Our Google Map


View BarabooNow.com Guide in a larger map

* Play With Care! It goes without saying that any outdoor activity can be dangerous for some people depending on many factors. We are not attempting to point out every little risk inherit in each activity or location. We assume you will use your common sense, take lessons when appropriate, get your doctor’s O.K. and do more research when deciding to embark on any outdoor activity. Use this information on an “as is” basis and at your own risk.