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:

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Lake Alvin: A Weekday Early Spring Cruise

Sometimes I feel like a slacker going back to Lake Alvin so often, a sense of guilt for not developing narratives about new areas for paddling in the southeastern part of South Dakota. But then, I have written multiple narratives about the waterways in the area and sometimes I just want to kayak as a way to keep up my physical conditioning, much as many people go to a gym.  Kayaking for me, however, always beats going to the gym.  Lake Alvin is fifteen minutes from my driveway to the put-in, and that makes it easy to keeping returning to familiar waters.

This morning was beautiful: a temperature of about 70 degrees, calm winds, sunny skies, and a deserted nearby lake.  This day was a gift for a “senior paddler” well into retirement.

I arrived at the public access put-in on the southwestern shore and found the dock had been installed since my last trip.

As usual, I headed out across the lake and proceeded south along the eastern shoreline to the entrance into Nine Mile Creek.  My intent was to move slowly upstream looking at the vegetation along the shore and the wildlife out enjoying the sun on this great day.

The water was mirror smooth this morning as I headed south under the bridge into the creek.  I was able to easily continue up to the set of rapids about a mile or more upstream, the normal terminal point for kayak navigation.  The water was clearer than at most other times of the year; the bottom could be seen at about three feet of depth within the course of the creek.

One of the first things I noticed along the shoreline was a number of large spider webs glistening in the sun with the morning dew. 

I came across several groups of black duck-like birds on the water.

Geese were about, but they were skittish and set up a loud honking when first seeing me and then flying off.

Among the many perching birds were flocks of red-wing blackbirds.

I even came across a great horned owl perched in a tree giving me the once-over as I approached.

There were lots of turtles out sunning themselves.  Somehow, these turtles are able to sense a presence, and they will slide off rocks, logs, or the shoreline at the approach of a paddler. Capturing a close-up of a turtle seems like a victory for me.

As I moved back down the creek toward the lake body, I saw a long slim brown animal swimming along.  As I approached, it slipped into the weeds and then reemerged along a cut-bank shoreline.  I was unsure about the species; it was a weasel, a ferret, or a mink – some sort of semi-aquatic carnivorous animal.  If anyone can identify this creature for me, please add a response to the narrative.

The lake surface was like glass, and the reflections of trees along the shoreline were pronounced.  It was very tranquil ghosting along the shore with no wind; this is my favorite type of water for contemplative paddling – much better than going to the gym!

Since I had spent so much time lingering in Nine Mile Creek, I continued north on the lake only until opposite the recreation area on the north side.

My cruise this morning was about two hours.  It was a great way to begin the day!

For those interested in the complete set of photos for this narrative, please go to my Flickr page at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It may have been a Muskrat?