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:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Slow Advance of Spring this Year

Grandview Bridge Over the Big Sioux River
Continuing an effort to monitor the slow advance of spring this year, Dave Finck and I returned to the three sites we have been visiting over the past weeks: Grandview Bridge over the Big Sioux River, Lake Alvin, and the Klondike Rapids.
The public access area just upstream of the Grandview Bridge over the Big Sioux River is about the same as the last visit, just a little less muddy.  We were able to drive down to the public access area on the South Dakota side without fear of being mired down in the mud.  From this vantage point, it seems as though passage on the river is possible.  Banks are very muddy, however, and a major problem would be access; of course, the water is also quite cold, and a spill could be dangerous.

Lake Alvin Recreation Area
The thaw at Lake Alvin went into a stall over the last couple of weeks.  Warmer weather, though, seems to be making a difference now.  There are longer ice-free leads and generally several feet along the edge that are open.  The whole ice field looks ready to dissolve. 
I would think that the next few days will make quite a difference, especially the coming nights where the temperature remains above freezing.  I am hoping that it will be possible to kayak the lake within a couple of weeks.

Klondike Mill Rapids
Not much has changed at Klondike over the last two weeks.  There are fewer large thick ice chunks along the shore.  It is also to see that passage through this set of constructed rapids will not be easy.  Today, we could not envision a route for a kayak or canoe through the rocks.  We discussed the danger of tipping over and getting a foot caught in the loose rock placed in the stream.
We understand that a portage trail will be constructed, but there is no evidence so far of such a path.  While it is good to see the end of a low-head dam, there does not seem to be any improvement for river travel on this section of the Big Sioux.
 Maybe there will be something happening in the next few weeks; until then, though, passage through the rapids looks unlikely and a portage around the rapids seems difficult, especially trying to climb over the rocks. 
But, all in all, the winter seems to be passing now, and it is only a matter of a couple of weeks until kayaking/canoeing will be resumed. For those considering an early cruise, I do want to strongly remind readers about the very cold water temperatures and the risk associated with early paddling.  Take care if you go out on the water over the next few weeks!  As for me, I will be getting out my paddles and other kayaking equipment from the garage attic, checking out my kayak, and attaching the roof rack to the Honda Civic.  I want to be ready for a first cruise as the moment arrives. 

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