Paddle the Baraboo

kayaking on the Baraboo River

A quiet stretch between Wonewoc and La Valle.
Jeff Seering.

River Facts

  • The Baraboo is once again a free-flowing river. An effort began in the mid-1990s to restore the river through dam removal, culminating in October, 2001 with removal of the Linen Mill dam. Now recognized nationally, the Baraboo is the longest stretch of U.S. river restored through dam removal.The DNR’s Priority Watershed Program was a key to river renewal. More than 500 participating landowners, especially farmers, installed conservation practices, reduced pollution and helped improve water quality.
  • About 120 miles long, with a watershed area of 655 square miles, the Baraboo River begins in Monroe County near Kendall and ends at the Wisconsin River near Portage. It is the fourth largest tributary to the Wisconsin River.
  • The river falls about 150 feet in elevation over its length, but one-third, or about 50 feet, occurs in the five-mile stretch through Baraboo. That portion was named the “Baraboo Rapids” by early inhabitants. Use of this term gradually disappeared after most of this stretch became “tamed” by dams, but has now returned since the dams were removed and the rapids re-exposed.

Paddling Information

  • The average annual flow is 383 cubic feet per second (cfs). View real-time daily flow downstream of Baraboo, select site number 05405000.
  • Most land along the river is privately owned. Respect private property rights along the banks. No camping is allowed along the river, but public and private campgrounds are available nearby; contact the local Chamber of Commerce for more information.
  • When parking along road shoulders, pull completely off the pavement.