The Wisconsin River churns through Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton as it winds throughout the state. And it’s here, along a five-mile (8 km) stretch, that the river passes the incredibly beautiful “dells” formations that first attracted tourists to the area in the late 1800s.
Today’s tourists come to the Dells to fly down waterslides, shoot through narrow tubes and splash in lazy rivers. They like to play mini golf, drive go-karts and check out attractions like Paul Bunyan’s Northwoods Lumberjack Show.
If visitors get on the Wisconsin River today, it’s likely to fly down the river in a Dells Jet Boat, or to splash in via one of the Original Wisconsin Ducks.
And that’s all good. But for a true Dells experience, try getting out on the water in a kayak or canoe.
Experience the Dells via the Wisconsin River
I first visited the Dells when I was 3 or 4 years old. Not surprisingly, I barely remember the experience. The second time came in the mid-1980s, when I accompanied a religious education class to Noah’s Ark, then a pretty new attraction. My third trip came in the mid-1990s, when my husband and I visited with our three young kids in tow. Since then, I’ve been back multiple times a year, as I quickly began writing about the destination. A lot. That’s because Wisconsin Dells is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire Midwest.
Yet, it took me until 2019 – some 25 years after I first began frequenting the place – that I ventured out on the Wisconsin River via kayak. My experience was incredible, as you’ll read in this article. And I hope it inspires you to do the same thing. There is so much to discover!
My top gear recommendation for kayaking in the Dells: Keen water sandals. I love mine because they’re very protective against rocks and other objects, grip well to prevent slipping and, obviously, are made to get wet! Make sure to bring along a dry bag and/or phone protector, too, just in case you take a spill.
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