Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Resources for Kayaking in Wisconsin

Another question and answer post, this time about kayaking. A good friend of mine, Rick, who I rock climb with (and happens to rock an old-school Subaru Outback wagon with a manual!), reached out to me with this inquiry about resources for paddling. It's a perfect question, especially relevant with the arrival of warmer spring weather allowing for more time on the water:

"Hey Robby, was wondering, do you know of any good app or website that shows public put-in sites for kayak/canoe? I had a nice app at one time but think they discontinued it. Thought I’d ask you since you kayak frequently. Thanks!"

So I'm not aware of any true apps for a phone or iPad to use, but I refer to a few different websites:

1. The Wisconsin DNR's "Water Trails in Wisconsin" website  which provides valuable information for both all the state parks, forests, recreation and natural areas you can go kayaking in, but also few of the designated state water trails, like the 523-mile Lake Michigan State Water Trail that weaves up the east coast of Lake Michigan, stopping at various state park properties all the way north up and around the Door peninsula and ending near Marinette on the Wisconsin/Michigan UP border. Check out the GIS map of it.

2. Our state's Department of Tourism website, TravelWisconsin.com has a super helpful water activities guide to kayaking, canoeing and SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding) that's also picture-heavy, which comes in handy when planning out trips.

3. Miles Paddled is an awesome, awesome blog site dedicated strictly to all-things paddling throughout Wisconsin. Read summaries of his trips along the water with detailed personal accounts filled with vivid writing, great photographs, interactive maps, and pretty much everything you need logistics wise to plan an outing with your kayak or canoe. Each post lists crucial facts like where you put-in and take-out, skill level, class (rapids type 1, 2, 3, etc.), water depth and more. I'd highly recommend starting here.

4. WisconsinRiverTrips.com is another valuable and reliable source to go to. Look at it as almost a TripAdvisor-type website for places to kayak in our lovely cheese and beer filled state. It's simple to read and navigate, with a growing list of places to paddle. Bright, detailed photos and HD videos from in the kayak or canoe, and plenty of solid information about everything you can expect when on the water: notable wildlife, hazards, shuttle options, and an interactive Google map with certain waypoints. The website also lists additional reference books you can purchase, and a library of sound tips related to buying a kayaking, navigating, and even how to take quality photos by adjusting your camera's many settings.

Bonus, here are a few of my favorite places to go kayaking around Wisconsin: