Yellow River

The Lower Yellow is a generic bottom-land paddle with many logjams.  But the upper stretch is quite nice with many rapids and boulder gardens.  Timing though can be pretty tricky as often this river is either too high or too low.

Trip Reports

Hwy 80 to Hwy N

Date Paddled: June 11th, 2016
Distance: 3.4 Miles
Time: 2 hours 48 minutes

This segment of the Yellow starts with a whimper and ends with a bang.  Highlights include fun rapids, boulder gardens, massive river boulders and a lack of development.


North Wood County Park to Little Bull Falls

Date Paddled: September 13th, 2020
Distance: 4.2 miles
Time: Expect 2 hours

Yet another underrated Central Wisconsin paddle that is super scenic and has a lot of fun rapids.  This is a tough river to time though as it is often too low or too high.


Little Bull Falls to Dexter County Park

Date Paddled: November 6th, 2016
Distance: 7.5 miles
Time: 5 hours 8 minutes (3.5 hours would be more typical)

An unexplored section on the Upper Yellow River with some really nice surprises.


Necedah Dam to Yellow River Bay

Date Paddled: October 6th, 2015
Distance: 10 Miles
Time: 5 hours 8 minutes

An obscure central Wisconsin prospect that is pleasant with great sandbars, but has some snags to contend with.


Overview Map

Detailed Overview


  • Eagle Road to Hwy 80:  12.4 miles. contributor Daniel Akin has frequented several of these subsections with his favorite being Yellow River Road to Hwy 10.
    • Eagle Road to Hwy HH:  2.2 miles.  This is a dangerous section with Class 3 and 4 rapids.  There’s also a wire fence across the river to deal with.
    • Hwy HH to Yellow River Road:  2.1 miles.  A more wooded stretch that I don’t know much about.  Nice street view image.
    • Yellow River Road to Bb:  1.3 miles.  A wooded section with possible logjams.
    • Bb to Robin Road:  0.8 miles.  Good prospect with some minor rapids by the put-in.  Nice street view image.
    • Robin Road to Hwy 10:  2.1 miles.  Neat prospect that looks somewhat unobstructed and has several scenic boulder gardens.
    • Hwy 10 to Lincoln Ave:  2.2 miles.  Very narrow and wooded.  There may be some logjam issues.
    • Lincoln Ave to Hwy 80:  1.7 miles.  Maybe some logjams, boulder gardens and outcrops.
  • Hwy 80 to Hwy N:  3.4 miles.  Starts slow, but ends with nice boulder gardens and rapids. 
  • Hwy N to North Wood County Park (2nd Dam):  2.9 miles.  A rocky stretch with some rough whitewater including a Class 3 near the put-in by the “Dells”.
  • North Wood County Park (2nd Dam) to Little Bull Falls Grill:  4.2 miles.
    • North Wood County Park (2nd Dam) to Hwy C:  2.8 miles.  Scenic stretch with many boulder gardens and rapids.  The most serious rapids are near Hwy C and include Jenny Falls which is a Class 3.
    • Hwy C to Little Bull Falls:  1.2 miles.  More rapids and boulder gardens.  There is a logjam shortly after Hwy C.  Little Bull Falls is a Class 4 and is preceded by a Class 3.
  • Little Bull Falls to Dexter Park 7.5 miles. 
    • Little Bull Falls to Hwy 73:  1.6 miles.  Many rapids on this stretch with some nice rock outcrops.  Launch below the falls and at a private access.
    • Hwy 73 to Riverside Park:  1.7 miles. More rapids and the biggest and best outcrops.  Hwy 73 is a weedy but doable access option.
    • Riverside Park to Dexter Park:  4.2 miles. Far fewer outcrops and rapids, but a nice wooded section.  Two miles in the flowage kicks in which is less interesting.
  • Hwy 54 (Dexter Park) to Hwy 80 (Babcock):  9.7 miles.  While you could launch by the park, your best bet will be to launch SW of the dam off Hwy 54.  Paddling author Frank liked this section and said it had no logjams, but he did it during high water and there are many downed trees.  Can be pushy when high and only for adventurers.  Not too many sandbars.
  • Hwy 80 to Hwy F:  10.6 miles.  Good sandbars.  Am not sure about jams.
  • Hwy F to 9th Street:  8.3 miles.  Really nice sandbars in low water.  Not sure about jams, but portages ‘should not’ be too bad given the shallow sandy banks.
  • 9th Street to the dam (Necedah):  16 miles.  A lot less sandy and many oxbows.  Jams are a question mark.  I suspect this is a weak section.
  • Necedah to Yellow River Bay A longer sandy section that is mediocre.  Note this section may now be clogged with logjams.
  • Castle Rock Lake:  Blah.  Big, open and dangerous flowage (3rd largest in the state).
  • Buckhorn State Park:  You can explore the back channels and they seem nice, with interpretive signs…but with no current and only 1.5 miles.  Here is a map of the official water trail in the park.

Thanks to Frank Piraino, author of “Small River Canoe Adventures of Wisconsin,” and American Whitewater for a lot of this information!

Nearby Guages



Sep 17th, 2020 - Daniel Akin from Little Eau Plaine River
There are a number of places to put in on the Yellow River including Yellow River Road, Hwy 10, Lincoln Bridge, and Hwy 80 Bridge, each one lessoning the trip to County N Bridge. I highly recommend taking out under the County N Bridge because from County N Bridge to North Wood County Park is very treacherous with numerous Class 2+ and a Class 3+ Dells on the Right Side about 600 Yards below the County Bridge. If the road is closed at the Park, then the water is high enough for this stretch. But be careful. Prepare to empty out rec. kayaks a few times on this short stretch. Also, a couple of my friends put in way north of the race track on Eagle Road and they were shocked by the Class 3 and 4 Rapids just before County H, just north of Marshfield Speedway that totally took them surprised and they both lost their kayaks in an April voyage a couple years back. Also, there was a wire fence across the river up there too. This is a dangerous section and no mention of it at all in any literature that I’ve seen. My favorite run is the Yellow River Road to Hwy 10 Bridge (Country Pines Supper Club) past Ebee Park Bridge and Robyn Road Bridge. Put in on the right side of the road near the YRR Bridge and ask permission, if possible. This route starts out easy with some twists and turns during the first mile or so to Ebee Park. You might seem some ducks in the river on this stretch. There have been snags/debris through here in the past but it was all clear this year. A few riffles and some rocks, but good fun if the water is high enough. Once again, this river loses its water level fast in the summer so you have to go on a moments notice! I have to check the spelling of Ebbee. Once the East Branch and West Branch Merge at Ebbee Park (a snowmobile club private park), the river widens and gets a bit more fun. One note is that there is a ledge at Ebbe Park from the Western Fork and this is about two feet high. This is passable at higher water but should be scouted first. The west branch looks passable at high water levels and one could put in west on Eagle Rd or elsewhere. Not many log jams through this latter section because the river gets wider and takes on a new look. We have taken out here, but putting in could be an option as well. Don’t park in Ebbe Park as it is private, park on the County Road. After Ebbe Park, the river slows down for about a mile or so until after Robyn Road Bridge where there is a big rock after the bridge, stay left of the rock in the middle of the river. If you see a lot of exposed rock, the river is too low, if you can’t see the rock, the river is bit high. You can hear the hum the huge electric lines that pass over the river and this year there was a huge jam of logs at this bridge. This bridge is wide, at least 100 feet. I called the Lincoln township and they cleared this all out about a week after calling. Hang a sharp right after the bridge and some class ones await around the corner. This is a fun stretch of water. This stretch you can see the river going down hill for about 200 yards. The river quiets down and one more patch of Class Ones before the Riveredge Golf Course. After the golf course bridge, some riffles await and if the river is pushy, the current can be a little tricky after the clubhouse as it is windy and narrow and some debris on the sides. Only 1/2 mile until the Hwy 10 bridge and this is a pretty part with a Bald Eagle sighting, some small rapids, and a few curves. I love this last 1/2 mile after the clubhouse and am usually sad that when I see the Hwy 10 bridge. Ask permission to park at the supper club and take out under the bridge on the right side. Go inside for some apps. and a beer to help support the cause. The stretch from Hwy 10 Bridge to Lincoln Bridge and Hwy 80 Bridge are quite wooded, not many rapids, but fairly scenic. This can almost seem a little spooky with little sunlight penetrating this stretch of 3 miles. A number of people put in and take out at Lincoln Bridge and Hwy 80. After Hwy 80, it get desolate with little housing and no roads to speak of. This is about a five mile stretch heading South East. Be careful, the river can be tricky with some debris waiting around a corner and it can catch one off guard after a big rain. This stretch features a lot of turns and no rapids to speak off. A portage may occur without warning around a corner. Later on, with about a mile left, the river widens and a cabin is seen on the left. Then, some fun rapids await in the last stretch of 800 yards. Three sets of Class One+ with a particular fun section right before the takeout at the bridge. This is worth the wait in this section, my buddies love this stretch but it’s too long for me before getting to the fun stuff. This stretch from Lincoln Bridge to County N is a couple hours, if the current is too low, it’s longer. Now, the County N to North Wood County Park is spectacular, but dangerous. Be careful! I’ve only done this stretch once, and I had a blast, but others have not had much fun as they were not prepared for the rapids, the Dells about 1/2 mile in and the push of the river. We had to dump our rec. kayaks at least three different times. One of my friends lost his car keys, got his legs scraped up pretty good and was not a happy camper. I don’t recommend doing this stretch in the spring when the water is cold. There are about four lengthy sections of Class 2+ to 3 Rapids and the Dells. I’ve been told to stay to the right. This section needs to be scouted.
May 26th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Update from the Webmaster... The owner of the stairs by Little Bull Falls appears to have had issues with trespassers. The stairs are now blocked by a chain and multiple signs warn not to trespass. Get permission if you launch here as initially noted in the above review. For launching you can also use the upstream or downstream bridges (see write-up for more details).
Jul 9th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I'm sorry about your experience. When I did this three years ago, I didn't have these problems. This was likely the result of some major floods that hit the area. Hopefully others learn from your experience.
Jul 9th, 2018 - Kay from Wisconsin
We did our trip on July 6 2018----3 people in a 16 ft canoe. We left at 9am--The 1st 1/4 to 1/3 of the 7mile trip was nice and relaxing. After that it should post danger sign and give you a way out of the river. All blocked with trees for 1/2 of the river so my guess is 3 1/2 miles of climbing over trees and dragging the canoe over the banks. We saw 1 canoe someone just left and walk out somehow and a trashed boat and a dead bones on a deer leg in the trees. And No way to get out we had to keep going. When we hit the open water, we could see the Castle Rock Bridge. It was 5pm. So glad we got out before dark. We all cheered and said we would only tell someone to do this river if we wanted them to never come home. THE DNR need to clean this river before someone dont come home from this river for real.
Jul 11th, 2016 - River Roving Rats from Lemonweir River
The River Roving Rats are a group of annual guests that canoe and kayak the Yellow River and the Lemonweir River in Juneau County. This group enjoy the many sand bars that are on these two rivers and spend at least an 8 hour day enjoying the scenic beauty and picnic opportunities. The group do encounter fallen trees and at times have to portage. The trip is mostly scenic and very wilderness and wild like! This trip is usually best when the river flows are lower. We always stress whatever you take on the trip you return with. I supply garbage disposal upon their return. Several guests choose to pick up any litter or snagged fishing lines, lures etc... Contact: Country Cruisin' Kayaks & Canoes at or 608-548-4280 We have been in business over 20 years.

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

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