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, June 16, 2013

Big Sioux River: Lien Park (Sioux Falls) to Brandon

 This afternoon (Sunday), a fleet of ten kayaks under the leadership of Dave and Mary Finck and Larry Braaten made the cruise from Lien Park on North Cliff Avenue to the northern edge of the Big Sioux Recreation Area on the north side of Brandon – a distance of about nine miles.
 This segment of the river is frequently used by area kayakers for the cruise either to the first SDGFP launching site or on to another “take-out” three miles south at the end of the Big Sioux Recreation Area.
 Lien Park is not developed for recreation, especially for canoe/kayak launching.  A central feature of the site is the long haul from the parking lot, across the bike trail spur that terminates there, through the weeds, and down a steep slope to a difficult “put-in.”

I was able to use my wheels to roll my kayak across to the "put-in," and another person also had wheels.  Dave Finck has a special pass that allows him to drive over the grass to the river edge, and he used his trailer to move most of the boats.  Hauling my kayak over that distance would have left me groaning.
Today, the current was relatively fast and the slope dropped down into a muddy bank that led into deep water. So, the riskiest portion of the cruise was the launching of our kayaks.  Still, by assisting each other, all kayaks made it out into the stream without mishap.
After all kayaks were launched and grouped up, the cruise downstream got underway.  The day was really beautiful for a cruise.  When I left home, the temperature was in the 80s and the sun was bright over the landscape. After arranging our shuttle, the skies had darkened in the west and a light wind had developed, also out of the west.  We thought that rain might well develop.
Off we went down the river, generally keeping a fairly close group with kayaks always in sight of others.  The group might have sometimes spread out a quarter of a mile, but often also bunched up for some social chatter. On these cruises, there are always several conversational groups of kayakers that form and reform along the way.
There were no hazards that caused us any difficulty along the route.  There were old strainers that occasionally appeared, but there was always an easy passage past these old piles of trees.  The water depth was such that often I could not touch my double-blade paddle to the bottom.
About halfway along the route, we stopped on a sandbar to stretch out and poke around among the stones.  We came across a group of geese on this sandbar that moved off as we appeared.  Some people saw one or two deer along the shoreline, although I did not catch sight of one. 
We spent about three hours on the water today on this easy paddle.  The wind increased as we approached the final couple of miles, but the wind was at our backs.  With the current and the wind, it was possible at times to sail along with little effort.
As we approached the edge of Brandon, our fleet passed under the Rice Street Bridge and into the newly acquired northern extension of the Big Sioux Recreation Area.  A father and his two sons were fishing at the “take-out,” and the father lent a hand in pulling boats up through the mud onto a rough stone pathway up to the parking area.
This was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon cruise with no drama along the route – just the way I like it!  These river trips are always best with others along.  I am trying to keep to my advice offered to others:  don’t travel alone on moving water!
A complete set of photographs of this cruise down the Big Sioux can be found at my Flick account at the following URL:

1 comment:

Jeremey from Sioux Falls said...

Thanks for posting this Jay! I've been thinking about journeying that way. You should travel up north of Renner on Ditch Rd and get in sometime... it is a great trip!