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, February 02, 2014

SDCKA Annual Conference: 2014

The Annual South Dakota Canoe/Kayak Conference was held yesterday at the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls.  This event is always held at mid-winter and sets the stage for the approach of the paddling season in a couple of months.
Fifth-one paddlers gathered in the auditorium of the Outdoor Campus after an hour of socializing and networking in the lobby.  President Steven Dahlmeier opened the conference with a look at the activities of the association over the past year.  He provided the continuity for the conference as a variety of presentations were offered over the next four hours.
Kayak Outfitted for Adaptive Paddling
The first presentation offered a review of the adaptive paddling activities provided for people with disabilities who wanted to stretch themselves through kayaking.  Cory Diedrick, board member of the SDCKA, was a key figure in this process, and he was accompanied during the presentation by paddlers who were able to take advantage of this opportunity as well as others who helped bring this plan to fruition.
Presentations were offered on the health and future of the Big Sioux River, both within the Sioux Falls area and on the upper river watershed from Summit to Brookings.  In addition, a representative of the Iowa DNR presented a review of the demolition of the Klondike Dam and how that affects the river flow on the Big Sioux River in that stretch between SD and Iowa.
Several South Dakota paddlers and a support team participated in the MR 340 this past summer.  This event took paddlers 340 miles down the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Charles in 88 hours.  Kati Albers, David Mays, and Pat Wellner offered their photos and recollections of that major accomplishment.
A group of SDCKA members offered some tips for paddlers regarding choice of paddles, safety equipment, and gear for cruising.
Pete Larson, long time SDCKA board member, presented his slides and story of a 14-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon this past summer.
Jarett Bies and Steven Dahlmeier discussed the South Dakota Kayak Challenge ( race between Yankton and Sioux City and plans for next summer.  In addition, Jartett presented the first look at a new 50-mile race along the Missouri River from Fort Randall to Pickstown.  Details of this race can be found on a dedicated Facebook page at the following URL:
For many of us at the conference, this gathering was the first time we had chatted since mid-November when the waters in the Sioux Falls area iced up for the long winter.  We laughed it up for a few hours and began to anticipate our first cruises of the season.  Now, we just watch the daylight hours lengthen, the sun continue to strengthen, and the snow and ice to gradually melt.  Normally, we are able to get out on the water in April, and that means just another 8 or 9 weeks to go.