Nature December 08, 2016
18 Rivers In Wisconsin That Are So Much More Than Just A Body Of Water
There is a good reason Wisconsin is quickly becoming a world-wide leader in freshwater studies, technology, and science. With shores on two Great Lakes and more 84,000 miles of rivers flowing through our borders, Wisconsinites are spoiled for all the boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping and more that we can do along our many rivers’ shores.
Included on this list are some of the most recognizable rivers we have – the Mississippi, the Wisconsin and the Fox. But beyond the huge rivers that define our landscape and have played a part in our business for centuries, there are tons of smaller streams with plenty to offer residents all over the state.
In no particular order, here’s a list of some of the greatest stretches of freshwater Wisconsin has to offer:
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1. Menominee River
The Menominee, and its tributary the Brule River, form part of the boundary between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There are a number of reservoirs along the river that used to be used as part of the iron ore mining industry.
2. Cranberry River
The Cranberry is one of a number of streams that flows into Lake Superior. The river is fed by cold groundwater and it makes it an ideal breeding ground for fish. These rivers act as fisheries where various breeds spawn.
3. Flambeau River
The Flambeau is one of the best canoeing rivers in the midwest. Offering whitewater, plenty of trip lengths and the ability to canoe camp, it's a destination in northern Wisconsin. It flows in to the Chippewa, which flows into the Mississippi.
4. Fox River
Archaeologists say indigenous people were living along the Fox River in 7000 BC. The Fox Cities are known for paper and pulp mills that produce more than five million tons of paper a year.
5. Rock River
Just under 300 feet long, the Rock River dumps into the Mississippi south of the Wisconsin border. The Rock River is well known for its water sports and recreation. It provides an artesian spring near Johnson Creek.
6. Devils River
This river isn't on here because of its length or historical importance. Devils River is included because this picture looks like it could be a canal or creek in Scandinavia. Lush banks you could lie back on, wispy clouds to decipher, and the need for a bike or some tulips to complete the view.
7. St. Louis River
The largest US river to flow into Lake Superior, it empties between the twin ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI. The St. Louis provided a link from the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes and its canoe portage was used by Native Americans, missionaries and fur traders.
8. Baraboo River
One of the longest stretches of free-flowing water in the country are on the Baraboo River. Dams were removed in the 1990s so that more than 100 miles of this river can be easily traversed by canoe or kayak.
9. Willow River
A tributary of the St. Croix, the Willow River has been dammed and used by logging companies and power companies. The dams make it a slow-moving river and the Willow River Falls are a great recreation spot.
10. Oconto River
The river is a tributary of Lake Michigan that empties into Green Bay. It was used by fur traders and later loggers as an important mode of transport and access to the Great Lakes.
11. Mississippi River
Wisconsin is bordered by the upper part of the Mighty Mississippi. Meandering the length of the country, it is 2,320 miles long. In its upper part, it's characterized by tall bluffs before emptying into low-lying deltas down south.
12. Presque Isle River
Though it runs for just 42 miles in northern Wisconsin and the UP, this river is home to nine different waterfalls. It empties into Lake Superior.
13. Wisconsin River
Covering most of the length of the state, the Wisconsin River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. At 430 miles, it's the longest river in the state. It follows the glacial plain through the center of the state and is the river that forms the famous Dells.
14. Milwaukee River
One of the translations of the word Milwaukee is "gathering place by the water." The city is located at an inset of Lake Michigan where three rivers - the Milwaukee, the Kinnickinnic and the Menomonee -converge....
15. Kinnickinnic River
...One of the reasons Milwaukee has grown in to a huge city for freshwater studies is its location on these three rivers that flow from three different types of land areas....
16. Menomonee River
...They represent the city, suburban expansion, and farmland, and each carries a ton of information that helps scientists study one of our most necessary and abundant resources: freshwater.
17. Bad River
Emptying into Lake Superior, the Bad River has internationally protected wetland, bogs and lagoons are home to two rare species - the grey wolf and the Canada lynx. They're also part of the migratory pattern for the endangered piping plover, and they feed wild rice beds.
18. Peshtigo River
Known for some pretty great rapids, the Peshtigo River empties into Green Bay. The nearness of its water helped residents during the infamous Peshtigo fire.
What are some of your favorite freshwater spots in Wisconsin?
Looking for things to do along our riverbeds? Check out
12 River Towns Everyone Should Visit in Wisconsin