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:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SDCA Annual Conference

South Dakota Canoe Association Annual Conference
(The Spirit Sail attached to Jay Heath's Kayak)

The SDCA held its annual conference on Saturday, January 25, 2009, at the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls. The program featured a number of South Dakota paddlers who presented topics including area paddling opportunities, kayaking the big waters of lakes in the Brookings area and Lake Superior, cruising on the Missouri River in the Pierre area, tripping to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, paddle construction, and a 42-day adventure through the Northwest Territories of Canada along rivers and lakes to the Arctic Ocean.
(Rick Johns, SDCA Board Member representing building, demonstrating kayak paddle construction)

(Dick Davidson, SDCA Board Member and legendary expedition canoe tripper, presenting Arctic adventures)

(Mary Finck, SDCA Board Member representing conservation)

While paddling in the Sioux Falls area is perhaps 8 weeks off, some of the members related their on-water experiences on the Missouri River that took place in the Pierre area just this month. In any event, the audience considered the upcoming paddling possibilities that are just over the horizon. The SDCA will be sponsoring a pool session at the Sioux Falls YWCA on Sunday, February 1, to help paddlers practice a wet-exit from kayaks, assisted and self-rescue techniques, and rolling. Those interested in attending should contact Jarett Bies, and information can be found on the SDCA website: Information on joining the SDCA to become part of the paddling network in South Dakota is also found on the website.

(Pat Wellner's dog Scruffy, a long-time kayak partner on Missouri River cruises celebrated during Pat's presentation at the conference)


John Adler said...

Thanks Jay for all of the information here and at the conference. Just a few things I want to mention for those people that follow your blog. Yes, I have paddled at least once every month for 22 months now. This winter kayaking is something that I started last winter when I found others to kayak with. I will NOT go out on the water this time of year no matter how mild the weather appears to be. It is simply a safety issue. The water is simply too cold to risk anything bad happening. Also, I agreed with the statements you made on Saturday about paddling alone or paddling with others. There are times when it is nice to go out alone. The solitude and quiet cannot be matched. Unfortunately, around here that quiet is often broken by motor boats or, worse, jet skis. There are also many times when it is a joy to paddle with others. To share the scenes and ideas with others with similar ideas is great. The safety factor is always a plus. And, it sure makes it eaiser to shuttle vehicles and to be able to paddle from point A to point B instead of just going in circles. And finally, good job on the blog. I started one but find it hard to make the time to update it and to provide more than just pictures of my outings. Keep up the great work. For anyone reading this - if you are ever thinking of getting out to Pierre - look us up. Pat, Chuck, and I are always looking for an excuse to get out on the river.

Anonymous said...

John, I do have a question about winter kayaking as I have read numerous versions of advice. When you winter kayak, what gear do you take and wear? Wet suit/dry suit? etc etc.... Just curious. Any info would be great. Thank you. jason

John Adler said...

I sometimes wear a wet suit under other clothes but usually just use that later in the season alone. The key is to layer. I start with a base layer of poly. Then a second layer of some hiking pants and fleece top. Topped off with a paddle jacket and rain pants. Neoprene boots and gloves - usually with a liner. And a stocking cap to keep my head warm. The trick is to stay dry and this top layer should help with that if the worst happens. I never paddled in the winter before finding people to paddle with and we don't go out alone. It is nice to be able to claim going out every month but we avoid the coldest days and those where the wind is expected to blow. It just isn't worth the risk. I also use my 14' boat because it is more stable than the 17 footer. Last year we found days of at least 40 degrees and open water. The day we went out this month it was only in the low 30's and we were only on the water for an hour. Might try again this weekend if they are right about the forecast.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John, that is what I assumed, but was curious. I have paddled in the cold before, but I have kept to the shore line and somewhat near my vehicle, you just never know, and with ice still floating in the water, another hazard is created. I do enjoy going out in times of the year when the lakes are used very minimally. Thanks for the response. Happy paddling! jason