Alma Great River Houseboats scenic by Lock & Dam 4

Houseboat renters can enjoy the views and islands of the Mississippi River above Lock & Dam 4 near Alma, Wisconsin. Submitted photo

For many people, the idea of renting a houseboat, finding a beach on a river island, and spending time with their families seemed like the perfect activity during a pandemic.

“Last year was one of our best years ever because of COVID,” said Chris Creighton, general manager. “This was something that families could still do.”

Located in the Alma Marina just above U.S. Lock & Dam 4, Great River Houseboats has six houseboats and three pontoons for rent. The houseboats are different sizes which sleep from two to ten, depending on what renters need. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially during July and August when Creighton said they are often fully booked well in advance. They rent boats from mid-May to mid-October. 


Alma Great River Houseboats Delite.JPG

Delite, which sleeps 10, is available as an assisted rental. Great River Houseboats will take the boat to a beach for renters and help them get set up. Submitted photo

“Everything they need is on the boat,” Creighton said. “Utensils, pots and pans, plates, coffee cups, coffeemaker, toaster, microwave and bedding. They might want to bring extra towels for drying off after swimming and taking a shower.”

Handling a houseboat, especially with the current from the river, might be a little tricky, but Creighton said they have a training program, so renters don’t need to be experienced boaters. 

“We make sure they are comfortable with the boat, and we don’t leave them until they are comfortable,” he said. “We also added an assisted rental. We will drive the houseboat out for them to a nearby beach. Then they can use a pontoon to cruise around the river. The pontoon will get you to more spots than one of our big boats.”

Creighton said that some people like to beach the houseboat and stay in that area. Others like to go places, such as upriver to Pepin to eat at the Pickle Factory restaurant, or to the National Eagle Center and restaurants in Wabasha. 

Alma Great River Houseboats Discovery.JPG

Discovery is a 40-foot houseboat that sleeps two-to-four. Submitted photo


“People enjoy seeing the different views along the bluffs,” he said. “A lot of people come because they want to see the eagles, pelicans, and cranes, especially during the fall migration. They love being on the river and watching the barges go by.”

He added that for many people, renting a houseboat is a great way to experience the quiet of the area.

“People love the sunsets and the scenery and getting away from everything,” he said. “You know you are not in a busy town.”


Reporter Steve Gardiner retired in spring 2021 but continues to write occasional stories. Readers can reach him through the newsroom at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for taking part in our commenting section. We want this platform to be a safe and inclusive community where you can freely share ideas and opinions. Comments that are racist, hateful, sexist or attack others won’t be allowed. Just keep it clean. Do these things or you could be banned:

• Don’t name-call and attack other commenters. If you’d be in hot water for saying it in public, then don’t say it here.

• Don’t spam us.

• Don’t attack our journalists.

Let’s make this a platform that is educational, enjoyable and insightful.

Email questions to

Share your opinion


Join the conversation

Recommended for you