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Lower Wisconsin State Riverway

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!

Ferry Bluff

Ferry Bluff, 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 95,000 acres, of which over 45,000 are in state ownership, 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 95,000 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 skiing
  • 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
  • Winter (fat tire) biking

Management

Property Vision

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (LWSR) is an ecological landscape of continental significance, conserving a broad assemblage of important and rare natural communities and plant and animal species. The property provides a mosaic of important and diverse habitats for both common and rare species at a level found in few other locations.

Encompassing one of the longest reaches of free-flowing rivers remaining in the Midwest, the Riverway's broad waters, islands and sandbars, sloughs, wetlands and floodplain forests, prairies, and flanking hills and bluffs make this scenic treasure a truly unique recreational resource that's prized by nearby residents and visitors from across the state and beyond. The Riverway offers exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities in primarily lightly developed settings, provided in ways that sustain the corridor's exceptional ecological values. Within this context, the Riverway's abundant natural and recreational resources provide important contributions to local and regional economies.

Property Goals


  • Goal 1: At a landscape scale; maintain and enhance the ecological function and exceptional values of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway; specifically, the diversity of high quality natural communities in a continuum of connected habitats from river to hill top.
  • Goal 2: Protect and enhance natural communities of high importance; particularly, closed-canopy older forest, southern-mesic forest, floodplain forest, oak barrens, dry prairie, oak woodland, oak openings, open wetlands, and aquatic features, such as springs and seeps, oxbow lakes, sloughs, mussel beds.
  • Goal 3: Protect and enhance habitat for common wildlife and for wildlife species of greatest conservation need; including forest interior birds, grassland birds, rare fish, reptiles, and amphibians, and rare aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and bats.
  • Goal 4: Maintain and enhance the largely undeveloped, natural scenic beauty of the LWSR, particularly those areas visible from the river.
  • Goal 5: Manage forest lands using principles of sustainable forestry to support habitat and scenic management goals and to provide a variety of renewable forest products.
  • Goal 6: Provide opportunities for high-quality, nature-based open-space recreational uses that are compatible with the property's capabilities and the ecological and habitat management goals. Nature based activities are uses like; hunting, trapping, and wildlife viewing, fishing, paddling, picnicking, camping, hiking, equestrian use, and environmental interpretation and education.
  • Goal 7: Provide access to recreational opportunities for people of all ages and physical abilities in ways that are sustainable and protect the ecological resources and unique features of the Riverway.
  • Goal 8: Protect, and interpret where appropriate, historic, cultural and archeological resources.
  • Goal 9: Contribute benefits to local and regional economies through management of wildlife and recreational resources and sustainably produced forest products.

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: Victora Park thumbnail: canoeing thumbnail: canoeing thumbnail: canoeing thumbnail: dutchman breeches thumbnail: Ferry Bluff thumbnail: Paul Brandt memorial thumbnail: in the woods

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

Last revised: Tuesday February 07 2017