Seal of Dane County County of Dane

Locks on the Yahara River

Boating on the Yahara chain of lakes will take you through three (3) boat locks on the Yahara River. The locks are associated with dams used to maintain lake water levels. Each lock and dam location offers a portage for small watercraft. View the lock/dam and portage locations.

Tenney Lock is the largest lock and is located on Lake Mendota within the City of Madison. The lock is operated by a lock attendant during specific park hours and requires a permit to use (see links below). The fee for the permit is used to offset the cost of the attendant.

The other two locks are Babcock Lock on Lake Waubesa at Babcock County Park in the Village of McFarland and LaFollette Lock on Lake Kegonsa at LaFollette County Park near Stoughton. These locks provide recreational opportunities to boaters during high water flow periods in the Yahara River System by allowing them to stay on the river without portaging around dams. These locks may be CLOSED during low water flow when lake level elevations are at the summer minimum. Visit our Lake Levels & Information webpage to view lake elevation data and closure information for these locks. There is no fee to use these two locks.