Whitewater Rafting in Marinette County

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Whitewater Rafting in Marinette County

Marinette County has to be one of the best kept whitewater secrets of the upper Midwest. The Peshtigo River is well known for its splashy rock gardens, ledges, and drops with big waves and huge holes. The Menominee River offers big water flows from 1,500-15,000 cfs, much like you would find on the great eastern or western rivers. For private boaters, there are many hundreds of miles of rivers and streams to explore that have gradient falls and rapids almost all secluded in the County, State or National Forests.

Whitewater rafting is one of the fastest growing adventure sports. Just about anyone can do it, and it offers instant rewards for the beginner as well as plenty of new challenges and techniques to keep the accomplished rafter challenged. Whitewater rafting is the perfect outing for many groups of people. Scout, church and youth groups love the outdoors, the challenges, the way the river builds strength of character, and lifelong friendships. Companies and businesses use whitewater rafting trips to promote team building and fitness, as well as a general comradery among co-workers. Adrenaline junkies know that the river is a good place to get their fix. Between the adventure of the rapids, the beautiful forest land and wildlife along the way, and the company of good friends, it just can’t be beaten.

The Peshtigo is clearly a favorite whitewater rafting river. It is clean, cool, and free flowing, and it changes considerably with even minor water level changes. That makes it new and exciting every time you run it. Its rock gardens have endless play spots for the technical boater, and a fun splashy ride for the weekend or vacationing rafter. The ledges get huge waves and a few nice surfing and ender spots at higher levels, and some of the main rapids have huge holes and big falls. The Peshtigo offers a long stretch of rapids and rock gardens, and some claim it is one of the longest continuous stretches of whitewater in the region at 5 miles. It is without question some of the best whitewater rafting in the state of Wisconsin.

In the spring and summer, the whitewater stretch of the Peshtigo is rated at class II-III. At higher flows, it easily rates a solid class IV in most of the main rapids. Trips can range from mild at lower levels to really wild at higher levels. In the summer, a lot of scout groups, church groups and other organizations take to the river, along with a lot of families and young adults. The minimum age at Kosir’s, is 12 on the Peshtigo and 16 on the Menominee, and we had a gentleman in his 80’s run a few years ago.

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The Menominee River is a great rafting trip for those that want big water like you might find on some of the well known western or eastern rivers. The Menominee is dam-controlled and has flows that range from around 1,500-15,000 cfs. In the driest times, it usually still has a flow of at least 900cfs. Compare this to the Peshtigo with flows from 200cfs up to 3,600 at flood stage. Most people have no idea that we have whitewater rafting like this in Wisconsin.

The Menominee trip starts on calm water as you paddle past huge cliffs and some serious scenery. Expect to see eagles and other wildlife here. The river begins to pick up tempo at the first rapid, a relatively small class II-III. There are some rock gardens between there and the gorge that can keep it interesting before the main event. The Gorge, or more accurately Piers Gorge Scenic Area, holds some absolutely huge rapids sandwiched between high cliffs and mountainous terrain. Mishicot Falls is the entrance of the gorge, a drop that measures between 8 and 15 feet depending on water levels. After that, you are in for a wild ride with huge waves and holes, and some pretty big rapids.

The cool part of the Menominee trip with Kosir’s Rapid Rats is that you get to run the Gorge twice. When you start out on the flat water section, you are running with 4-5 people in a raft. Right before the gorge, you stop and go up on the cliffs and see what you will be running. When you return to the river, you will run the gorge with 8-10 people in the boat, and run it twice without carrying rafts back up. Once you have run the gorge twice, you return to being 4-5 in a raft and run through Terminal Surfer, a huge, uniform, back-rolling wave, before going to the landing. Trips on both rivers take about 3 hours, depending on water levels.

I would like to encourage you to learn more about paddling whitewater in Marinette County, WI, and join Kosir’s Rapid Rafts for a trip down the Peshtigo River or Menominee River in northern Marinette County. See you on the river!

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