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Governor Earl Peshtigo River State ForestBoating and paddling

Wake Boarder on the Caldron Falls Flowage (photo courtesy Sara Pearson)More than 3,200 acres of water on the Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest offer scenic boating and paddling opportunities, as well as access to the islands and backwaters of the Peshtigo River flowages.

The Peshtigo River has several large dams. To help ensure your safety, please read the DNR's boating safety tips and regulations.


Sixteen boat landings are available for public use. Seven are located on the High Falls Reservoir, six on the Caldron Falls Flowage, one on the Johnson Falls Flowage and two on the Peshtigo and Potato Rapids flowages. Please refer to the state forest map [PDF] for landing locations and facilities available at each.

The large size of Caldron Falls Flowage and High Falls Reservoir makes water skiing, power boating and use of personal watercraft possible. However, due to fluctuating water levels, submerged rocks, logs and snags are common. Visitors are advised to use slow speeds and follow deeper channels.

The flowages' numerous islands are open to the public for day use, such as picnicking. Remember that overnight camping is prohibited on the islands except for on designated campsites. Also, please remember to carry your trash out with you.

Canoeing and kayaking

Despite its large dams, the Peshtigo is considered one of the great paddling rivers of Wisconsin and the upper Peshtigo offers some of the most challenging whitewater rapids in the area. Rental kayaks and shuttle services are available from local outfitters and the forest provides 10 remote campsites. Portages around all dams are clearly marked.

Roaring Rapids section

The short Roaring Rapids section of the Peshtigo River, Farm Dam Landing to Boat Landing #12, is for skilled paddlers only as it offers some of the most intense whitewater in the area. Boat Landing #12 provides ample parking and an easy place to take out.

Johnson Falls Dam to Spring Rapids

The section of the river between Johnson Falls Dam and Spring Rapids contains some Class I and II rapids. Because this river section is maintained as a trout fishery, paddlers will commonly see anglers wading in the river. Parking is available on the Wisconsin Public Service property near the Johnson Falls Dam and along the angler access roads on state forest property.

Caldron Falls and High Falls

Caldron Falls Flowage and High Falls Reservoir include numerous bays just waiting to be explored. Both flowages do have some intense recreational boating, however, the quiet, shallow bays are less heavily used. Various boat landings along the flowages provide parking for vehicles and trailers.

The south end of High Falls Reservoir, commonly known as Bass Bay, offers an escape from boaters and its islands provide many ideal spots for a break or picnic.

In Caldron Falls Flowage, South Bay and Crane Bay also offer quiet paddling opportunities, as well as the most northern stretch of the river as it flows from Boat Landing #12 downstream to Boat Landing #11.

Johnson Falls and Potato Rapids are smaller flowages with fewer boaters. Johnson Falls is surrounded by forested cover, making wildlife sightings common. The Potato Rapids Flowage, Bagley Flowage, also has numerous bays and channels to explore.

Last revised: Friday March 20 2020