by Ryan Johnson
August marks the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer here in the Midwest. And there is no better way to combat the heat and humidity than to get out on the water. As a kayak tour guide for Driftless Adventure Company, the month of August I find my tour guests prefer to be IN the water more than sitting in their kayaks ON the water. Fine by me!
The La Crosse River flows silently and mostly unnoticed right through the center of La Crosse. Being a La Crosse native, I may be a bit biased but it truly is a watery gem. It offers quite a change of pace for those who may be intimidated by the size of the Mississippi and its traffic. The La Crosse River from the mall area to Riverside Park is one of my favorite stretches. The noise from the highway quickly fades as you head into the heart of the marsh, just over the top of the bank on either side of the river. Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, turtles and frogs thrive in this scenic refuge and can be easily spotted. Views of our majestic bluffs pop in and out of the trees and provide an impressive back drop. The La Crosse River empties into the Mississippi at Riverside Park and makes for a wonderful stopping point with a plethora of options for dining or drinks.
If you know where to find them the La Crosse River offers some nice sandy shores, perfect for a break and a refreshing swim. During a recent tour on the La Crosse River, I found one of those perfect beaches and got my two families out of their boats and onto shore for a cold beverage and an energizing snack. Then in the water we went! The kids of course jumped right in but it did not take long for the parents to see how fun it was and how refreshing it felt. I am a decent swimmer myself but one of my favorite things to do is to wear my life jacket and just lazily float down a slow moving river. The calm currents of the La Crosse are perfect for a lazy floating swim. The grassy shores slowly pass behind you as the river carries you downstream. Looking skyward reveals the towering bluffs and puffy white clouds.
So if you find yourself sweating profusely this month in La Crosse, remember the La Crosse River is waiting to cool you off during a great day of paddling.
Ryan Johnson operates www.DriftlessAdventureCompany.com , serving the Upper Mississippi River Valley from Red Wing, MN down to La Crosse, WI.