3 Days, 2 Nights
Sea Kayaking
Skill Rating:
Mazomanie, WI
$ 325
Included: Guides, all kayaking and group camping equipment, camping fees, and all meals while on trail.
Not Included: Personal camping gear (sleeping bag & pad), Transportation to/from Mazomanie. WI

The beautiful stretch of the Wisconsin State Riverway is ideal for easy paddling and camping. Just a few hours northwest of Chicago, the Wisconsin River provides a perfect escape that surrounds you with beautiful scenery and the sounds of nature. If you are looking for a weekend getaway that will refresh and reward you, look no further.


Day 1: The group and guides convene at Cedar Hills Campground where we talk over the schedule for the next two days, adjust gear as needed, share some snacks around the campfire and enjoy the view from our bluffside camp before turning in for the night.

Day 2: After a quick breakfast we pack everything into our vehicles and head for the riverside. While one guide organizes a vehicle shuttle, the other will assist in loading all the necessary gear into the kayaks. When the vehicles and gear are in place we launch our boats onto the picturesque Lower Wisconsin River. Keep your cameras ready for herons, turtles and bald eagles. After a couple hours we’ll stop for a riverside lunch, munching sandwiches, fruit and snacks as the current slides downstream. Then it’s back into the boats for more paddling. There’s also an opportunity for a hike to the top of Ferry Bluff, a riverside hilltop with great views of the river. After we’ve paddled about 15 miles downstream, we pull our boats up onto a sandy beach or island and pitch camp for the night.

Day 3: After a hearty breakfast we break camp and pack the boats. We have about 10 miles of downstream distance to cover today. After a couple hours paddling we pull up to our take out spot where we find our pre-shuttled vehicle just waiting to be loaded up with boats and gear. From here we drive back to the launch site where everyone’s vehicles are waiting.

Clothing & Equipment:

This is all you will need -- anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.
All items should be packed in dry bags or double garbage bags. Several smaller bags fit in the kayaks more easily than large bags.

  • Rain gear (jacket and pants) (Paddling jacket works well as top)
  • 2 t-shirts, at least one non-cotton for paddling
  • 1 towel (PackTowel® can be great) 1 shirt, long sleeved synthetic preferred
  • 1-2 pair shorts (at least one pair quick drying)
  • Sun/rain hat
  • 1 pair fast drying long pants - no blue jeans
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • 2 pairs shoes/sandals - light weight sneakers work best, one pair to get wet. Tevas or other sport sandals, booties etc. are all fine to bring along
  • 1 pr. synthetic long underwear (medium weight)
  • 2 pair socks
  • Bathing suit
  • Underwear
  • Bandanas (optional)
  • Clean change of clothing for the trip home (optional)
  • 1 pile/fleece jacket


  • Toiletry kit (toilet paper, toothbrush, biodegradable soap and shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, personal medication etc.)
  • Bug repellent
  • Sleeping bag (compact, 3-season) and pad
  • Flashlight, batteries & extra bulb- headlamps are preferred
  • Large plastic cup with handle (commuter mug)
  • Pocket knife
  • Waterbottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Chums/Croakies to keep glasses on your head are imperative
  • Energy bars/reserve food

Optional Equipment

  • Fishing rod (collapsible, with container and license) and tackle
  • Camera, film, waterproof container
  • Reading matter and maps (waterproof case)
  • Entertainment (harmonica, cards, games)
  • Paddling jacket
  • Sewing kits
  • Compass
  • Ziploc storage bags
  • Wetsuit Crazy Creek® or similar type chair
  • Matches (in waterproof container)

What is special about this trip?
Many participants and guides have noted that after you paddle past the first two bridges on the river “you really feel like you’re out in a wilderness far more remote than central Wisconsin.” Colorful bluffs, pristine water, wildlife and the simple living make this trip truly special.

How do I get there?
Our campsite and kayak launch are just northwest of Madison, WI on Highway 12.

How and where will you meet me?
We will meet you at Cedar Hills Campground on Highway 78 on the first evening. We will have tents set up and a trailer full of kayaks and therefore be pretty obvious.

How long will it take me to get there?
It takes about 3 - 3.5 hours to get there from the Chicago area.

Where should I stay overnight around there?
There are lots of places to stay in Baraboo (Devil’s Lake area) and Madison. If you plan on arriving early or staying late, give the office a call for a recommendation on a great place to stay.

What money should I take?
You will not need any money on the river, so just bring what you need for travel.

Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
They accept major credit cards in town where ATMs are readily available.

How much should I tip my guides?

Tipping is strongly encouraged. Within the travel industry "tipping" your guides is standard practice. The amount of tip depends on numerous factors and should start at 10% of your fees.

What's the weather like?

It’s usually around the mid 80s during the day and in the mid 60s at night.

What are the accommodations like?
We sleep in 2-man Eureka tents.

What do I need to bring?

We will send you a gear list upon registration.

Can I drink the water?
After we treat it with a filtration pump or tablets, yes. The water is clean but may look a little murky because of the minerals in it. For this reason we bring lots of water with us in case the river water is distasteful to you.

What's the food like?
Good and lots of it. We have hot breakfasts of oatmeal, eggs, bacon, sometimes pancakes, coffee tea, the works. At lunch we have sandwiches (tuna salad, lunchmeat, peanut butter, summer sausage), hummus, trail mix, fruit, cookies, etc. Dinners are usually chicken fajitas, spaghetti with pesto sauce, jambalaya or Thai noodle dishes.

What time zone will I be in?
All of Wisconsin is in the Central Time Zone.

How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
We carry our cell phones with us, but some stretches of river have spotty cell service.

How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We paddle about 9 - 15 miles a day, but remember, that’s with the current. It’s not uncommon to cover 8 miles in less than two hours of really leisurely paddling.

What kind of equipment do you use?
We use hard-shell plastic kayaks, sturdy Eureka tents, Coleman stoves and Katadyn filters.

How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
We usually take between 4 and 10 people on this trip. The guides are experienced kayakers and outdoor professionals, who are certified in Wilderness First Aid as a baseline minimum.

How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
No prior experience or physical preparation is necessary for this trip. If you like, you could take an introductory kayak lesson with us (Intro to Sea Kayaking would suffice) if you wanted to be really prepared.