Difficulty I at this flow (I(II) normally)
Length 4.5 Miles
Flow Range 300 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 528 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 08/23/2019 3:44 pm

River Description

Removal of three dams has restored this stretch (formerly known as the "Baraboo Rapids") to free-flowing.

Generally gentle gravel-bed rapids in a wide, shallow riverbed may provide some local entertainment at the right flows. Specifically, the best rips (that I'm aware of) occur:
(1) at the put-in (within sight right upstream of Hwy.12),
(2) at the former "Oak Street Dam" site, where some minor playable waves form up, and
(3) near the Circus World Museum.
All may be viable as individual park-and-play sites, or the full reach may be enjoyed as a pleasant swiftwater 'splishy-splash' run for local novice boaters. (At the levels I have looked here, I have not seen anything which would appear to merit very far a drive for serious whitewater play boaters, but ....)

There is a very scenic longer reach upstream of the described reach which would make a pleasant flatwater float trip. This has been detailed in published canoe guidebooks.

A fine ~7.5 minute video from Tom Lindblade running the longer reach is available on YouTube. The video shows a stretch of rapids from about 2:00 until 3:25 on the 'counter'. (This is not the only rapids on the river, just the only significant rapids on the video.)
Looking at historical gauge data, it is likely this was at a flow in the neighborhood of 525-530 cfs.
You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/vcOT8muGsvs?t=128.

Fun fact: Boat thru Circus World Museum property!

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 562 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 562 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).

Alternate Take-Out

Class - N/A Mile - 2.85
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Since most of what lies downstream (to the listed take-out) is lesser gradient, many may prefer to take out here.


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Dave Schmidt
5 years ago

Concur with Varun's comments. Add that at 375 cfs it's still a fun run of minor rapids with a better rapid at the Ash/Walnut bridge but I wouldn't want to go at levels too much lower than that.

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Varun Ramesh
6 years ago

Ran it today at 1300 CFS was at probably the upper limit of good flows. Have run it a bunch of times last year at flows ranging from 400-100 CFS. ~800 CFS is when the river gains are honest whitewater character. So best flows are 800-1300 CFS. Lower level is ~ 300-400 CFS. Also, there is an alternate take out point at the Circus parking spot which avoids the boring flatwater section after the circus world. Here is the Google Maps link from for the directions from the Put in to the Take out. https://www.google.com/maps/dir/43.47122,-89.7696146/43.4650912,-89.730457/@43.465585,-89.7671307,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m4!4m3!1m0!1m0!3e0

Gage Descriptions

Minimum listed is very tentative. (I have not boated this reach, but have seen it at a few different water levels.) If you have knowledge and experience boating this reach, please suggest boatable levels via the 'Add a Comment' button which should appear in the "Comments" tab page.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2017-05-01 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More




Thomas O'Keefe




Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1211583 04/01/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1212829 06/11/19 Rob updated description
1192676 04/06/05 n/a n/a
1195627 07/11/09 Rob Added (imbedded) YouTube video
1196620 11/21/09 Rob Delete dead link(s).
1197405 03/16/10 Rob Fix abstract.
1212827 06/11/19 Rob updated stats
1198282 09/29/10 Thomas O'Keefe photo added
1210982 01/26/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1210989 01/27/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1213516 08/23/19 Rob updated description