This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.

The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.

You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.

I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lake Alvin - A Late Fall Cruise on Familiar Waters, Oct. 2007

After my cruise on Split Rock Creek last Friday, I just left the kayak on the rack atop my car in hopes of going out again within a few days. Today was a magnificent Indian summer day with clear skies, light winds, and a temperature in the 70s, a day not to be wasted with inside work. On days like this, I congratulate myself on being retired and free to take advantage of such a gift.


I decided to return to familiar waters. Lake Alvin is often the first and last paddle for me in the season. It is only about 10 miles from my eastside Sioux Falls home, and I can go from driveway to unloading the kayak in 15 minutes.


We had a killing frost this weekend, and I wanted to see the effect this descent into deep fall had on the vegetation along the lake. Most of the leaves are down from the deciduous trees, the grasses are all brown, the algae has largely disappeared from the lake surface, and there were very few birds to be heard or seen.


The lake was full. I was able to easily go up into the channel leading to the spillway and to kayak around the several bays that lead off the main body of the lake.


With a light wind, I was inspired to take my golf umbrella out with me and do a little umbrella sailing today. I sailed from the put-in on the north side of the western end of the lake nearly up to the northeastern end. My speed was about half of what I might have done paddling, but I just wanted to cruise along the shoreline with the umbrella slanting out into the wind. After 20 minutes or so of sailing, I got the paddle going and cruised the perimeter of the lake. After all, I thought, I did come out for some upper body exercise, and holding the umbrella out was just a novelty.



The lake was deserted, as usual on a weekday late morning. There were no boats on the water, and there was no one fishing. When I returned to the put-in, however, there was a pick-up there with three guys standing around drinking beer and enjoying the wonderful day.


Once again, I was reminded that Lake Alvin is really a nice body of water for kayaking. I am drawn to explore other lakes, creeks, and rivers and sometimes don’t appreciate the attractiveness of this area: maybe it is just too close to home. I was a little reluctant to go out to some of my other haunts during pheasant hunting season. I don’t want to see a bunch of guys with red caps and vests totting shotguns when I am silently cruising by below the banks and the shoreline growth.


Jason Heath said...

The trees still have most of their leaves here in Chicago, and the high has remained around 60 but it looks like the cold weather is fast approaching here as well.

Jarett Bies said...


Again, my envy rises. Looks like you had fun.

I think we're going to call our sister paddling blog "Kayak Sodak."



Jay Heath said...

Well, Jarett, I look forward to learning much more about waters north of Sioux Falls on Kayak Sodak.

It is much easier, of course, to get out on nice days if the job is not looming; there is a great freedom in retirement.

I very much appreciate your feedback on my narratives.

I hope that you can make it to the SDCA meeting in a couple of weeks.