40th year of pontoon rides & rentals help community enjoy Madison lakes

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 3:59 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Pontoon rides and rentals are being offered at Madison parks for the 40th year through Madison School and Community Recreation’s summer program.

Pontoons are available at Tenney Park, Olbrich Park, Warner Park, and Goodspeed Peir for drop-in rides, rentals, and specialty trips, now through September 30.

The drop-in rides operate on a first-come first-serve basis and cost $5 per person, with children under 3-years-old free, and only cash and checks are accepted. Registration begins 15 minutes in advance of the ride at all locations except for Tenney Park, where registration opens 45 minutes prior to the ride.

Officials said the goal is to make this an affordable and accessible experience for everyone who wants to enjoy Madison’s lakes. If cost is a barrier, there are free ride tickets available at all Madison Public Library locations.

“It’s really great to see the community getting to have that experience and seeing the city from a different perspective and offering basically the opportunity to be out there and enjoy a day out on the water for everyone,” said Emily Peffer, MSCR Recreation Specialist.

Rentals for up to 15 people per pontoon can be booked online, with a captain and crew included. Large groups can rent up to 3 boats.

Peffer said the program is primarily run by volunteers, many of which are retired Madison-area residents looking to give back to their community.

“The volunteers love telling stories about people who get really excited to be on the water for the first time, we host a lot of kids, and the energy is just electric when people are out there and they’re actually experiencing the water in a different way,” said Peffer.

Specialty programs this summer include a Harry Potter themed trip, a history tour, a sunset cruise and more.

Times and locations for drop-in rides:

  • Tenney Park (1615 Sherman Ave. – Lake Mendota & Lake Monona trips)
    • Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm-7 pm & 7:15 pm-8:45 pm (does not run in September)
    • Sundays at 1:30 pm-3 pm & 3:15 pm-4:45 pm
  • Olbrich Park (Lakeland Ave and Atwood Ave - Lake Monona trips)
    • Mondays at 1:30 pm-2:30 pm & 2:45 pm-3:45 pm
  • Goodspeed Pier (near Memorial Union on UW Campus – Lake Mendota trips)
    • Thursdays at 1:30 pm-2:30 pm & 2:45 pm-3:45 pm,
  • Warner Park (1201 Woodward Dr.­ – Lake Mendota)
    • Fridays at 1:30 pm-2:30 pm & 2:45 pm-3:45 pm

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