Best Places to Go Kayaking in Wisconsin

Between its rivers, Great Lakes, and hundreds of smaller lakes, Wisconsin has enough water to keep kayakers adventure-fed for a lifetime. Grab a paddle and don’t forget your camera—you’re in for a picturesque experience.

Downtown Milwaukee

Urban kayaking offers unique advantages: Milwaukee’s skyline and neighborhoods look extra charming from the Milwaukee River, and its sunsets more majestic from the waters of Lake Michigan. Guided tours are the way to go, and they attract locals and visitors alike, especially from the surrounding towns such as Port Washington, Delafield, West Bend, Oconomowoc, and Kenosha.


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River Falls, WI

A short jaunt from Minneapolis/St. Paul, River Falls sits along the Kinnickinnic River and is a favorite nature escape for urbanites. The river’s lower canyon is a spring-fed Class I trout stream that runs from River Falls to the St. Croix River and is mostly unaltered by development along the way. The lower canyon is best for riders with experience, as it features areas of swift waters and a few tight turns.


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Baileys Harbor, WI

One of the best ways to explore vacation haven Door County is by kayak, and the waters off Baileys Harbor offer abundant adventures. Immerse yourself in the area’s maritime past by paddling around 14 accessible shipwrecks; see firsthand how 1,000-plus years of wind and waves alter limestone cliffs; check out submerged caves and tunnels only accessible from the water; or venture to the small island of Cana to see Door County’s most iconic lighthouse, which has stood for over 150 years.


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Bayfield County, WI

Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands are ripe for exploring via water and kayaks provide the ideal vessel. Many visitors paddle from Bayfield to Madeline Island, which is rich in Lake Superior Chippewa history. Nature buffs enjoy exploring the marshy bogs of Back Bay Slough. Still others careen through the sea caves at Meyers Beach, while experienced kayakers venture further to the less-visited Romans Point caves.


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Wisconsin Dells, WI

The Dells is famed for its water parks and camping, but kayakers know it’s also a great spot to take to the water to see the Wisconsin River of the Lower Dells. Paddle in the shade of miles of towering cliffs and rock formations, pull up for a picnic on a tranquil sandy beach, and—if you can find it—glide through the “haunted” lost cave near Sugar Bowl Island.


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