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:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Very Early Cruise on Lake Alvin

I have invited other area paddlers to contribute to this blog, and the first person has now taken me up on the offer. Steven Dahlmeier took his new kayak out to Lake Alvin even before the official arrival of spring this year for a first cruise on the cold waters. The following is his narrative and photos of the cruise:

Guest Narrative by Steven Dahlmeier

Attached are a few picks of my kayaking visit to Lake Alvin on Monday, March 19, 2007. I took my old camera on the trip - hence the "not-so-clear" photos. This was my first kayaking trip to Lake Alvin. I have scouted this location earlier in the year after reading your postings about your trips. I launched at the public access ramp on the southwest corner. The lake was abandoned, except for two men fishing along shore.


This was the maiden voyage of my new Old Town Cayuga 146. I have never manned a vessel of this size before, so I was rather anxious to see how she maneuvered. I have also never piloted a sea kayak before, only a recreational one.


When I hit the water, I realized that it was much windier than I first thought when I left home. It was about 50 degrees with a 15-20 mph wind. I headed off the ramp south and across the open water. I took on many waves, which made me realize the importance of a spray skirt - which I have yet to purchase.

I paddled toward the creek across the lake and noticed my paddle scraping the bottom, and I was 50 feet from shore! Apparently I was in a flooded area; and since this was my first time at Lake Alvin, I was unaware of the boundaries. I explored for about 45 minutes, then loaded up and headed home.


Overall, I was very pleased with what the lake had to offer. I can't wait to get back when the weather becomes more accommodating for kayaking and exploring.

Steven Dahlmeier

Friday, April 06, 2007

Approach of Paddling Season

The lakes are open around the Sioux Falls area, but cold weather has returned for the next week or so. The South Dakota Canoe Association held a Board of Directors meeting last night, and a couple of dates have been set that will be of interest to area paddlers. Within a couple of weeks there will be a newsletter coming out from the organization with a description of up-coming cruises. While I don't have that information, I can tell you that the annual Canoe Festival will be held at Lake Alvin on Sunday, June 3, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. The event is held at the public access area of the lake at the west entrance. You can read the Lake Alvin description in the list of area waterways to get more information on that location. SDCA members bring a range of kayaks and canoes to this event so that people interested in trying them out can go out on the lake and see how they like both the specific boats and the sport itself. Life jackets are provided by the boat owners, and people can just go out on the lake and paddle about for awhile. Even veteran kayakers come to try out different styles of boat. I will provide additional information about this event as the date approaches.

The Sierra Club will be hosting its annual canoe trip down the Big Sioux River from the city park in Egan to Trent. This Earth Day event has been very popular over the past years. A shuttle has usually been arranged so that people can leave their cars at one end of the route and ride a bus to the other point. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, at 10:00 a.m. Deb McIntyre is the point of contact for this cruise.

I will be out of the country for the next month and will not actually begin my cruising routine until the second week in May. At that point, I will resume my trips to area waterways, including a number of lakes that I have not yet described on the blog.

I have also invited people who are out on area waterways and wish to contribute to this blog to send me a descriptive narrative along with a photo by e-mail. In all likelihood, I will include these narratives on the blog along with attribution to the author of the piece.

So, look for my descriptions to continue next month.