I used the gauge at the WI Dells to measure. for the high water trip over memorial day, it was measuring at 12 feet (flood stage is at 14). For the low level trip, it was at 4 feet. Weather was good both trips. Cool on the first, warm on the second. Had rain overnight one night on both trips, but nothing torrential.
Mosquitos were bad. We really had to avoid standing water. Anything close to it, and these relentless swarms would come out instantly. Some of the worst mosquito experiences I've had. Just FYI
High water trip: Water was so high, that all islands were basically underwater. Sandbars were non-existent. We would wind up powering through tot he dam/portage, and camping on the beach at the end. Fortunately, the current was strong, and enabled us to make good time on this. The bad part was having to cut through the dells area at 5-6pm, when all tour boats are out. The water got extremely choppy in the narrows area, and we were constantly dodging boats.
Low water trip: we found a great sandbar right by the lake. Few bugs, plenty of sand. We didn't make the same great time, and made camp after about 6 hours of paddling. The only tough part was the canyon/narrows/channel before you get to the final island chain. There were wind gusts of 40mph that day, causing a choppy wind tunnel. The canoe began to take on a ton of water, and w were trapped in a rocky channel with no shoreline. We got lucky and managed to hit the ho-chunk campground boat launch and empty out the 5-10 gallons of water that we had taken on. We'd rest for an hour, and then the winds died, so we moved on.
The portage is long and hard. so be prepared. It's up a hill, through a parking lot, then down a narrow path. With 2 people, it takes about an hour. 3 people+ helps cut down on it. The paved path makes it easier to use boat wheels, but the paths at the start and end are tough to traverse.
Once you get out of town and out of the rocks, the river opens up and there are numerous sandbars for camping. It was still much easier to find a site on trip 2, as more bars were exposed in the lower water. In both cases, we could find a great site right on the river.
The exit point in portage is right by riverside park.tamarack pizza. There's a levee you climb out at. It then feeds into a parking lot.
Portage WI. offers overnight parking form the PD for $5 per car. I then hire a driver to take from end to start, so we don't have driving at the end of the trip. It's convenient, as the lot is a 5 minute walk from the river.
This trip is challenging, and recommended for groups. The less people, the harder it is. My favorite river in the midwest though