Lower Wisconsin State Riverway

River ethics

  • Have a good time.
  • Pickup after yourself.
  • Respect others.

Explore the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway where you can find much to do in beautiful settings close to major population centers. You can fish or hunt, canoe or boat, hike or ride horseback, or just enjoy the river scenery on a drive down country roads. The Riverway abounds in birds and wildlife and the history of Wisconsin is written in the bluffs and marshes of the area. There is something for every interest, so take your pick. To really enjoy, try them all!

Avoca unit

Avoca Unit, DNR Photo.

A decade of cooperative effort between citizens, environmental groups, politicians, and the DNR ended successfully with the passage of the law establishing the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board in 1989. Our goal is to provide a quality public use area for unique river corridor activities and compatible recreational pursuits; maintain the generally natural and scenic landscape of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway; and manage the corridor's natural resources for the long-term benefit of the citizens of the area and state.

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway boundary contains 79,275 acres, of which over 44,000 are in state ownership, divided into 26 management units, and also contains or is next to State Natural Areas (SNA), Wildlife Areas (WA), and State Parks. The management is a team effort by wildlife managers, fisheries staff, foresters, park managers, wardens, land agents, and various natural resource specialists. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board [exit DNR] a unique and separate State agency, is responsible for the scenic protection of the river valley.

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway contains a fantastically diverse resource with a wide variety of historical and archaeological sites, wildlife, fisheries, and scenic beauty found nowhere else. You will enjoy your visit here and likely return again and again.

Two thirds of river users can be found on the stretch of river between Prairie Du Sac and Spring Green. Those looking for a more private experience will enjoy the middle section from Spring Green to Boscobel, and for the user wishing solitude, the stretch below Boscobel is the most secluded.

Location and Directions

The Wisconsin River flows unimpeded by any man-made structures for 92.3 miles from the dam at Prairie Du Sac downstream to its mouth at the Mississippi River. Approximately 80,000 acres of land on both sides of the river have been designated as the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

Activities

Recreational Opportunities

  • Hunting - large and small game, waterfowl
  • Trapping
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Cross country sking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Auto tour
  • Swimming
  • Historical and archaeological sites
  • Horseback riding
  • Dog training/trialing - it is illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands from April 15 through July 31 unless the dog is on a leash no longer than 8 feet. All dogs must be under their owner's control at all times on state-owned and leased lands.
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wild edibles/gathering

Objective

Management objectives

The goal and objectives set the primary purposes for the establishment and management of the LWSR. The goal serves as an umbrella statement for the objectives. Each objective discusses a primary management activity.

The DNR's overall intent is to provide for the long-term protection and maintenance of the river corridor's natural and scenic areas while maintaining significant opportunities for compatible business and residential development within the broader river valley.

The DNR's underlying management philosophy for the Riverway is that its general character, resource management, and use should remain much as it is today. To this end, the DNR's position is that facility development for river recreation should be minimal and that significant growth in water-based recreation should not be encouraged. River recreational facility development should focus on solving existing problems rather than new expansion. New recreation facilities should concentrate on non-river oriented activities. The approach toward resource management should be diverse, with techniques ranging from significant manipulations in some locations to little or no management in others.

Management Goal

Provide a quality public use area for unique river corridor activities and compatible recreational pursuits; maintain the generally natural and scenic landscape of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway; and manage the corridor's natural resources for the long-term benefit of the citizens of the area and state.

Management Objectives

  • Protect, maintain, and enhance the generally natural and undeveloped scenic beauty of 92.3 miles of river corridor, including islands, immediate shoreline, and important bluffs and hillsides visible from the river as defined by the project boundary.
  • Provide opportunities for 61,000 non-motorized and 12,000 motorized water craft users annually to include activities such as sandbar, island, and bankside picnicking and camping, fishing and nature interpretation, and experiences ranging from social to solitary.
  • Maintain the fishery and fishing opportunities for 91,000 users annually throughout the flowing part of the river system; enhance fishing opportunities associated with heavily used bank fishing areas along the river; enhance and increase the fishery and fishing opportunities of the backwater areas.
  • Maintain and enhance wildlife populations and associated habitats and annually provide 58,000 user days of hunting, 9,500 user days of trapping and 50,000 user days of wildlife appreciation and education activities.
  • Manage forest and other vegetation types to enhance scenic values and wildlife, and as compatible with scenic beauty maintenance, provide forest products to include sawtimber, pulpwood, and fuelwood, etc.
  • Inventory, preserve, maintain, and enhance the best examples of naturally occurring biotic communities by establishing at least nine State Natural Areas and at least nine Public Use Natural Areas.
  • Inventory and protect important archaeological, historical, and geological sites within the river corridor and interpret their significance.
  • Inventory, protect, and selectively manage listed Wisconsin Endangered and Threatened Species found in the river corridor.
  • Accommodate 45,000 picnickers and 113,000 sunbathers annually through limited development at some boat access points, the use of local and state parks and the designation of a few other carefully selected locations where such activities occur at present.
  • Provide an educational/interpretive program for 40,000 users annually emphasizing self-guiding nature trails, auto tours, wayside markers and exhibits, and observation points.
  • Provide, wherever practical, recreational access for the elderly and disabled.
  • Provide recreational trails for 45,000 hikers, 5,000 cross-country skiers, 9,000 horse riders, 9,500 snowmobilers, and an auto trail on corridor highways for 35,000 motorists.
  • Within the guidelines of the segmentation concept, provide annual opportunities for not more than 3,000 water accessible only bankside campers, 2,000 backpack campers, and 25,000 sandbar and island campers.
  • Provide 5,000 annual user days of dog trial and training activity on one Class I field trial ground and three dog training areas.
  • Minimize short-term fluctuations of flow through the Prairie du Sac Dam and eliminate fluctuations resulting from power production. Maintain the current practice of augmenting low flows on the Wisconsin River system.

Photos

Picture Gallery

We've compiled pictures of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

thumbnail: Arena boat landing thumbnail: Arean Canoe Launch thumbnail: Arena Unit Sign thumbnail: beach thumbnail: view from a bluff thumbnail: view from Cactus Bluff thumbnail: boat landing thumbnail: dog training area thumbnail: Helena boat landing thumbnail: Orion boat landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks landing thumbnail: Pecks pond thumbnail: sand furrows thumbnail: trail thumbnail: Twin Lizard Indian mound thumbnail: Victoria Park

Submit Your Pictures for our Gallery

Submit your pictures of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway by contacting:

Property Manager
Department of Natural Resources
5808 County Highway C
Spring Green WI, 53588
608-588-7723

Contacts/Partners

Contact information
For questions and comments about the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway contact:

Property Manager
Department of Natural Resources
5808 County Highway C
Spring Green WI, 53588
608-588-7723

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
202 N. Wisconsin Avenue
P. O. Box 187
Muscoda, WI 53573
608-739-3188
1-800-221-3792
Last revised: Monday January 06 2014