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:

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Paddling Fair at Family Park

The annual canoe/kayak paddling fair of the South Dakota Canoe/Kayak Association (SDCKA) was held this weekend at Family Park in Sioux Falls. Family Park is the newest addition to the park system in Sioux Falls, and this donated 90 acre park surrounds Family Lake, a 35 acre irregularly shaped lake formed from an old gravel pit. The park and the lake have been developed to provide a nature area within the western side of the city. The lake is stocked with a variety of fish, and the use of non-motorized boats is permitted.
The Park Department of the city and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks have collaborated in the development of this new recreational space. This park is intended to be totally a nature and fishing area rather than an athletic sports site.
Family Park is located off of west 12th Street at the intersection of the Tea/Ellis Road with 12th Street. The park is on the north side of 12th Street with an entrance just a few hundred yards north on the Tea/Ellis Road. The park has a number of fishing piers scattered around the perimeter and a boat launch ramp and dock. Temporary chemical outhouses are situated near the dock area.
At noon today, the skies were dark and rain had begun to fall. The temperature was around 60 degrees. The weather, however, did not deter a large group of SDCKA members from this planned event. By 1:15 or so, there were about 20 kayaks and canoes on the scene with paddlers ready to coach people who wanted to try out a kayak, some for the first time. The rain had passed, the sun came out from the clouds, and people began to take off their jackets.
Over the afternoon, perhaps 8 people who were new or nearly new to kayaking had appeared and were ready to take one or more boats out for a trial paddle. Others took the opportunity to try out a variety of available boats. All of us with boats also enjoyed the opportunity to paddle this lake, chat with friends, relive the South Dakota Kayak Challenge race from Yankton to Sioux City that took place last week, and just laugh it up with paddling pals.
(Pat Wellner of Pirates of the Missouri and his companion dog)
Family Lake is a good place to take people new to paddling. The lake has an irregular shape and appears larger than the 35 acres would suggest. The water is deep, and the shoreline is varied. I think that this is an especially good lake to take people out for an initiation into kayaking. It is also a good body of water to just exercise paddling skills and keep in shape for more challenging waters. I think that this is a fine addition to the park system in Sioux Falls, and I am glad to have another paddling option in the area.
(Steven Dahlmeier and Jarett Bies, President and Vice President of the SDCKA)

There was a pretty good wind today, so I took my big golf umbrella out with me and got in a little sailing.
Two of the television stations covered the event. It is apparent that kayaking has become a very popular recreational activity in the area.
People at the event were smiling and laughing in the sunshine. It was a fine afternoon!

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