La Crosse River

This is a mediocre river…not as good as neighboring Robinson Creek, the Black River, or the Kickapoo…but better than the Baraboo River or Lemonweir.

Trip Reports

Hwy BB to Memorial Park

Date Paddled: October 2nd, 2015
Distance: 7.1 Miles
Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

An obscure paddling prospect but pleasant, with no log jams, great water clarity, good current and a clean sandy substrate.


Fishermans Park to Hammer Road Bridge

Date Paddled: August 17th, 2014
Distance: 5.36 Miles
Time: 4 hours 47 minutes (atypical...expect 2-3 hours)

A pleasant five-mile paddle originating in the city of Sparta.  The La Crosse River has a great recipe for paddlers in swift clear water, fun ledges, and is nestled in an attractive setting.  Put-in: You will have a bevy of options for putting in, with almost contiguous green space access from Memorial Park to Fisherman’s […]


Public landing by Hwy 108 to Veterans Memorial Campground

Date Paddled: July 31st, 2016
Distance: 4.2 Miles
Time: 2 hours 58 minutes (2 hours is more typical)

A mediocre trip on the La Crosse.  A few fun rapids and a hidden sandstone coulee are the highlights.


Veterans Memorial Campground to Holiday Heights Park

Date Paddled: May 14th, 2022
Distance: 8.6 miles
Time: 3-4 hours

This was a nice trip on the La Crosse River just upstream from the city of La Crosse.  The highlight of the trip were some terrific sandbanks.


Holiday Heights Landing to Riverside Park

Date Paddled: August 15th, 2015
Distance: 6.76 miles
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes (2.5 hours would be more typical)

A visit to train and bluff country on the last section of the La Crosse River and then a side adventure on the mighty Mississippi.


Overview Map

Detailed Overview

Nearby Guages


Checkout the video to see the put-in at the dam, all the ledges, the old mill, a nice water snake, the covered bridge, steep sand banks, the clear sandy water and more. At 6:00 you can really hear the Sand Mine.


May 1st, 2024 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks Lynn for the warning. I'll make a note on the map and overview to warn other paddlers.
May 1st, 2024 - Lynn Ann V from Rio Grande
I floated the La Crosse river in Sparta, WI yesterday (4-30-24) and thought you might make note on your site that the Perch Lake to Amundsen Park section is plagued with lots of down trees and is not passable in one section without getting out of your boat and climbing over downed tree trunks. Cheers!
Sep 4th, 2023 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I didn't realize that storm damage had created downed trees on the Upper La Crosse. Your update is appreciated.
Sep 4th, 2023 - Ian from Perch pond
This was an amazing trip. Water was clear and moving at a decent flow. How ever the storms took down a lot More trees into the river. Still able to get through them but can get difficult at some points.
Jul 3rd, 2023 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the feedback Denny. Yeah Hammer Road was a bit steep/weedy for an access, and a trip like this would benefit from a longer length.
Jul 3rd, 2023 - Denny Caneff from Yahara River
Paddlers, if you have the time and inclination, you should definitely travel beyond Hammer Road (the takeout for the above-described trip) and continue on to Icarus Road (a narrow but mowed takeout path) or on to County Road J, near Rockland, which features a well-developed takeout and parking lot for the canoe rental fleets. While there are no fun ledges like in the first segment just beyond Sparta, the appealing river features encountered there pretty much continue: steady current, an occasional but navigable deadfall, sandy bottom. The river slows down and widens out a bit, but is certainly no more difficult. The sand mine was quiet the day I went by. A flotilla of canoe renters were enjoying the river; some were hilariously clueless about steering a canoe (or even holding a paddle). Total paddling time from Sparta to County J was 3 hours (and I paddle fast).
May 15th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the clarification
May 15th, 2022 - Jim Lavelle from Sparta
Hi,I work for the Fort McCoy Garrison staff. I was excited to see this, and plan to paddle it. Don't worry about being bothered at the put in. We actively encourage outdoor recreation on base. Just use our website to ensure your recreation doesn't meet up with Soldiers training.
Aug 14th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately the La Crosse River now is a bit high...hopefully it comes down here pretty soon.
Aug 14th, 2021 - Ryan Jinkins from La Crosse
WOW!!! Thank you so much for taking the time in documenting this trip. I have lived in LaCrosse for 16 years and I am just now planning a down river trip but I have no idea where all of our drop in sites are. Thank you for having such a detailed trip of what to expect.
Jul 28th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the comment.
Jul 28th, 2021 - Katerpillar from Canadian River. Although, downtown OKC they rename it “Oklahoma River”.
Great article. I paddled here 20 yrs ago, the bombs!! . I got to relive it just now reading this. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you.
Nov 1st, 2016 - Timothy Bauer from
Aaron, For what it's worth, I paddled the La Crosse River today (11/1/16) from Veterans Park to Riverside Park and there were no fewer than 4 serious obstructions. I cleared out and cleaned up what I could with pruners and a handsaw, but this trip would require a couple portages in high water, and those paddling a canoe would have a hell of a time. Sincerely, Timothy at

How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.

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