your paddlesports destination

Peshtigo River in Wisconsin

Trip Overview

My brothers and father drove out from South Dakota in search of a whitewater river for some canoe camping. We Had done alot of this growing up in Northern Saskatchewan but since we all moved to the US, a trip down the Kawishiwi river in BWCA was the closest thing we had done.

After some research we settled on the Pesh because of the large amount of river within the National forest and the many campgrounds outside the forest. Plus the promise of some good white water.

My brothers had not been out in a boat in a couple of years so we started up at Big Joe put in near the intersection of HWY 8 and 139 in the forest.

After a short class 1 it was a day of quitewater paddling and pulling over short log jams. We also practiced our strokes talked about the whitewater to come. Alot of this paddle was quite secluded and would be a great place for photography. It was however quite swampy and there were very few places to camp. This was about 4-5 hours of paddling time.

We ended up camping just upstream from forest road 2131 as the sun was setting. This, of course, promted my brothers to say, "You mean we could have just drove here." I proceeded to explain to them that paddling in Wisconsin is not like the Churchill where you could go 7 days without seeing anyone.

The next morning we started out and found that just downstream on the left side next to a Rock garden was a beautiful campsite that I think is called camp 12. We continued throught the multiple rock gardens, with some that were solid class 2's. My father and I in the solo boats and my less experienced brothers tandem and occasionally swimming. We continued down and the solo boats ran Michigan rapids and the tandem portaged. After a few more rock gardens, we camped on the right hand on kind of a peninsula with a rapid beside it. I am pretty sure this was between Michigan Rapids and Ralton's rip/Dalles.

The early the next morning we set out and soon came to Hansen's rip/Dalles - here the river splits into an narrow channel on the left and a class 3 on the Right. When we did the trip there was a large tree blocking the enterance to the class 3 rapids and an inflatable raft was wrapped around it. It was a good lesson for all of us about the power of the river. I found out later that week that a group had to be rescued because of this incident, but I believe no one was severely hurt. I ran the L channel in the whitewater boat but the other 2 portaged on river R of the class 3 and ran the lower rock garden.

The rest of the day was great. The boys were getting really profficent at even the class 2 rock gardens and we proceded to run Strong falls and paddle down to Goodman park.

At this point we took out because we all wanted to make sure that we were able to run the roaring rapids section before the weather turned. I ran the dagger canoe and the rest of the group ran their funyaks because we didn't have bags for the other canoes. This is a well described section in many other places and was a total blast. What a great way to end the trip.

I scouted the river in a couple of places between Goodman park and the roaring rapids and found some class 1 rapids as well as some nice camping at McClintock falls.

When we started the trip, we were at 4 on the Kosirs gauge and when we ended the guage was at 2.


13 ft Dagger Encore with Bags

14 ft Nova Craft Supernova

16 ft Wenonah Adirondak


About 10 dollars to camp at the county park


Northeast Wisconsin... about 100 miles Northwest of Green Bay.


Whitewater, Quietwater, Delorme WI Atlas

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip