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: http://hikingsiouxfalls.blogspot.com
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today was a wonderful gift of weather. The temperature was up to about 65, the skies were clear, and the wind was moderate at about 15 mph. It was the nicest day so far this year. I was compelled to put the kayak rack on the car, lash down the boat, and head out to Lake Alvin for the first cruise of the year.
As nearly always, the lake was deserted on this weekday afternoon. The landscape was really beautiful with the brown grass and bare deciduous trees. The many spruce trees along the upper banks and in the area surrounding the lake added an evergreen contrast to the drab winter colors. Cruising along the shore, I could see the hardy early grass making its way up through the debris of winter.
Turtles were out in force, especially up Nine Mile Creek. Although I sometimes feel a little guilty when turtles jump off a log or rock out of fright of my approaching kayak, I still like to cruise up to them to see how close I can come. There were ducks, coots, and geese out on the lake as well.
My cruise this afternoon began at the public access point at the southwestern end and continued up north to the Lake Alvin Recreation Area dock. From there, I headed back south on the lake and continued up into Nine Mile Creek. I didn’t check the time, but generally my back begins aching at about the 90-minute mark, and I got that message by the time I arrived back at the dock.
A lot of development has taken place on the west side of the lake and also along Nine Mile Creek. None of the houses are situated on the lake itself, but there are lots of impressive dwellings now in the Lake Alvin area. The most immediate effect of residential development around part of the lake is probably a reduced wildlife presence. So, it is certainly not a trip into the wild. Still, it is close to Sioux Falls, the setting of the lake is very attractive, and it is seldom crowded with boats. It is also a “no wake” lake. The lake is only about 15 minutes from my eastside home, so I will no doubt continue being a regular presence on the waters of Lake Alvin.