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River and Weather Safety, Paddle and Camping Trip Essentials, and more!

River Safety

Safety is a top priority for Wild Wisco Waters Canoe & Kayak Outfitters.

Please review safety guidelines below and contact us with any questions or concerns. 

River Conditions

River Flow: The Wisconsin River current is strong enough to sweep you off your feet at normal flow rates and the strength of the current can be hard to see from the shoreline or the edge of a sandbar. Even experienced swimmers may not be able to swim against it.

River flow can change overnight with excessive rain or via water released at the Kilbourn Dam in The Wisconsin Dells. Learning what the water levels are doing can help you determine if your campsite is high enough and if you need to be prepared for a quick exit.

When you’re out on the water, putting a stick in the ground at the water’s edge will allow you to see if the river is rising or falling.  Feel free to ask us about what the water levels might be during the course of your trip.  You can also call 1-800-242-1077 to get an automated recording of river levels at the dam.

Basic Safety Considerations 

  • The Current: If you’re wading and lose your footing, do not swim against the current. Float downstream until you bump into another sandbar where you can safely get out of the water.

  • Shifting Sandbars: Sandbars are constantly moving, and the downstream end is often unstable and will sometimes not support a person walking on it (think quicksand). This is particularly true when the sandbar is covered by a few inches of water. However, if sand looks dry, it’s almost certainly solid ground (as far as piles of sand are concerned).

  • Strainers: Avoid swimming or paddling near trees that have fallen into the river. Even in slow water, these ‘sweepers’ and ‘strainers’ can capsize your boat and pin you underwater.

  • Drop Offs: The water depth on the downstream side of a sandbar can drop from a few inches to as much as 12 feet in the course of a couple of steps.  Typically this drop is only a few feet, but the downstream side should be avoided anyway.  Instead, wading into the river to the sides or upstream of the sandbar will allow you to get back to the same sandbar if there are any problems.

  • Drownings: Wear a life jacket. Life jackets will keep you on top of the water if you walk off an unexpected drop-off.  

Environmental Factors 

Nature is beautiful but can be dangerous as well. Below are some basic environmental dangers you should be aware of before heading out on the River.


  • Sun:  Always apply sunscreen, even in overcast conditions. Wear a hat and bring extra layers to protect yourself from the sun

  • Poison Ivy: A very common plant that can be found along the River's shoreline that can cause an itchy reaction to humans. Learn how to identify the plant and avoid contact

  • Mosquitoes: A human biting insect that are prevalent along shorelines & River backwaters. Use repellent and camp on sandbars away from the shoreline to keep their annoyance to a minimum

  • Thunder & Lightning: 

    • Step 1: ​Get off the water 

    • Step 2: Seek Shelter 

      • If no shelter get low but don't lay on the ground 

    • Step 3: Avoid objects that conduct electricity

    • Step 4:  Monitor the storm

      • if strike occurs apply 1st aid and call 911

Emergency Services

Accidents happen that's why it is important to have a charged cellphone with you and to know where you are on the River so you can communicate your location when you call 911

River Safety

Paddle Essentials

Remember to keep your supplies dry with dry bags and/or dry boxes (available to rent)

Fishing Gear

Swimsuit & Towel

Camping Trip Essentials

When packing for your sandbar camping adventure remember that all your gear needs to fit in your canoe and keeping your supplies dry should be a top priority


Camp Pillow

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

Camp Chair

Flashlight or Headlamp

Thermal Blanket

Multi-purpose Knife

Matches & Lighter

Fire Starters

Dry Bags

Extra batteries

Cell Phone



Water purifier alt.


Duct tape


Garbage Bags


Sunglasses & Hat

Water & Refreshments Cooler

Waterproof container for electronics


First Aid Kit

make sure it is fully stocked

Sun Screen


Below are some recommendations you don't want to forget but bring whatever else you need to be comfortable

First Aid Kit  

Mosquito Repellent 

Toilet Paper 

Sun Screen 

dispose of in ziplocks or use leaves

Paddle Essentials
Camp Kitchen


Soft coolers are preferred

Stove & Fuel

unless you plan to cook over the fire

Cooking Utensils

determine tools based on menu

Ice Packs

Frozen milk jugs work great!


2 gallons per person

Meals & Snacks

Plan enough food for every meal

Leave No Trace

We require that all of our paddlers follow the guidelines to leave no trace. The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. For more information regarding these principals please visit LNT.ORG or send us a message! We are both Leave No Trace Certified and would be happy to discuss the principles with you! 

Plan ahead & prepare

Adequate trip planning and preparation helps travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land. Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to the enviro

Minimize campfire impacts

 Campfire building is also an important skill for every camper. Yet, the natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood.

Travel & camp on durable surfaces

The goal of travel in the outdoors is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to the land or waterways. Understanding how travel causes impacts is necessary to accomplish this goal. 

Respect Wildlife

Learn about wildlife through quiet observation. Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a “better look.” Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. 

Leave what you find 

Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.

"Take only pictures & leave only footprints"

Be considerate of other visitors

One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward other visitors. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience.

Dispose of waste properly

The Center encourages outdoor enthusiasts to consider the impacts that they leave behind, which will undoubtedly affect other people, water and wildlife.

"Pack it in, Pack it out"

Have Fun! 

Not really a Leave No Trace principle but something we strongly encourage! 

Use your time on the River to respect & connect with Nature, laugh with friends & family and create memories to last a lifetime!

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