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

Monday, March 10, 2014

Checking Out the Waters: March 2014

Dave Finck on Lake Alvin

March is a time of great restlessness for those of us living on the northern plains.  This has been a very long and cold winter and the arrival of a day with some sun and a temperature in the high 50s is enough to become our obsession.
Lake Alvin
Dave Finck and I decided to take a “road trip” this morning and visit several of the area waterways south and west of Sioux Falls.  I can’t help but look back two years ago and enjoy photos and narratives of a couple of cruises that I took on Lake Alvin and Lake Lakota in mid-March.  There won’t be any such early cruises this year.  Instead, I would guess that we are at least three weeks away from being able to get out on area lakes.

Lake Alvin
Our first stop this morning was Lake Alvin, then we drove across the Big Sioux River at the Grandview Bridge crossing, south of Sioux Falls near Lake Alvin.  From there, we drove to the Klondike Rapids and walked across the bridge from the Iowa side to South Dakota.  We then continued south to Lake Lakota, just on the southeastern edge of Newton Hills State Park.
Big Sioux River looking upstream from Grandview Bridge
Big Sioux River looking downstream from Grandview Bridge
Big Sioux River at Klondike Rapids
Lake Lakota
Lake Lakota
New Service: Kayak Rentals at Lake Lakota
From Lake Lakota, we drove west to check out Swan Lake, located between Viborg and Hurley.

Swan Lake
Geese on Swan Lake
All of these areas are in transition now.  The ice is becoming splintered and porous with pools of recently melted surface water scattered about.  I would not want to walk out on any of those surfaces, although we did see a guy ice fishing on Lake Alvin with a vehicle parked on the ice.
Guy out on the ice at Lake Alvin
Geese were headed north overhead, and we could hear their loud calls to each other.  On Swan Lake, we came across a large flock of geese standing around on the ice.

Geese on Swan Lake
The lakes are about to experience a great change as the warmer surface water shifts with the deep cold water and the annual breakup takes place.  Kayaking and canoeing might resume within just a few short weeks.
Swan Lake
All the photographs from today can be accessed on my Flickr page at the following URL:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayheath/sets/72157642172200184/

2 comments:

Lish Bairey said...

I fell in love with kayaking a few years ago on a rental! We went from the Oahe Dam to the causeway. Ive wanted a kayak of my own every since. I live south of Chamberlain on the river and have four kids who love outdoor adventures as much as do! What should a rookie like me buy for my first kayak. I was thinking tandem bc of the kids, but I keep reading that might not be best!?!?

Jay Heath said...

It seems like you are ready for your own kayak, but it is really hard to offer worthwhile advice to you. Every thing depends! What is your level of confidence in using the boat? What waters do you intend to paddle? Will your kids be using the boat? How much do intend to spend for a first boat? What safety issues do you have?

I have never been in a tandem kayak, and I don't think such a boat would be useful to me. So, no real advice to offer in that regard.

It seems to me that you ought to try out various boats to see what works for you. Failing that, it would be good to think about an inexpensive boat to start with, and then consider moving up if you find that paddling is all that you thought it might be. It would be good to talk over your needs with a dealer in kayaks first.

The SDCKA actually has a "paddling fair" in the late spring here in Sioux Falls where you can try a variety of craft to see what seems to work best for you. Also, many state parks now have kayak rentals, and that give you an opportunity to try out the craft they have available.

So, the final word is that you need to carefully consider your needs. I would recommend that you consider stability and safety in concert with the intended use; river use, for example, contrasts with small sheltered lakes.

Best wishes as you refine the specifics of your choice.