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Rhinelander’s best paddling lakes and rivers

It’s the perfect time to explore Rhinelander’s wonderful waterways, so hop in a kayak or canoe, grab your paddle and discover some of the best scenery in the Northwoods this summer. Here are a few suggestions on where to take your next aquatic adventure.

First things first: If you’re looking for rentals, hit up Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander. They rent kayaks and paddleboards by the day and are a great place to pick up any other gear you might need. Several lodging properties in the area also include the use of canoes, kayaks and other watercraft with your stay or rent them out for a small fee.

Once you’re all set for your paddling trip, here are a few places to go:

  • Boom Lake: Boom Lake sits on the north side of Rhinelander, offering great opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming. Boom Lake is actually a flowage of the Wisconsin River and spans more than 365 acres, providing lots of space for fun on the water. Hodag Park—a large city park on Boom Lake that’s home to a swimming beach and popular events like the Hodag Water Shows—is the perfect place to launch your canoe or kayak.
  • Lake Thompson: Lake Thompson is a popular destination for fishing and boating, and there are also several places to stay along its shores, including resorts and campsites. If you’re looking to cast a line, this 400-acre lake boasts an impressive population of panfish, walleye, northern pike and even musky. If a serene paddling trip is all you’re looking for, enjoy exploring the numerous bays and inlets. There is a public boat landing on the north end of the lake on North Shore Drive.
  • Pelican River: Looking for a quieter stretch of river to paddle in Rhinelander? Hit up the Pelican River, which flows out of the Wisconsin River just south of downtown Rhinelander. Put in your canoe or kayak at the Pelican Rapids Boat Launch on Boyce Drive and enjoy the views as you meander down the river. You’ll pass the Holmboe Conifer Forest State Natural Area and skirt the southern edge of Rhinelander as you take in the Northwoods scenery.

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Note: The Rhinelander Area is open, and all visitors are welcome. Please travel safely and responsibly. Some businesses and events may have modified hours or procedures; please contact businesses or event organizers directly for specific information.

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