Can You Kayak the Des Moines River?

Are you an adventure enthusiast looking for a thrilling kayaking experience in Iowa? If so, then you might be wondering if it’s possible to kayak the Des Moines River.

Well, the answer is a resounding yes! The Des Moines River is an excellent destination for kayaking enthusiasts of all skill levels.

The Beauty of Des Moines River

The Des Moines River is a beautiful and serene river that flows through the heart of Iowa. With its gentle rapids and picturesque scenery, it’s no wonder that this river has become a popular spot for kayaking enthusiasts. The river stretches over 400 miles and passes through many different landscapes, from rolling hills to flat plains.

Kayaking on the Des Moines River

Kayaking on the Des Moines River is a fantastic way to explore the beauty of Iowa. The river offers a variety of challenges for kayakers, from calm stretches to more challenging rapids. Depending on your skill level, you can choose to kayak different portions of the river.

It’s important to note that some stretches of the river may be more challenging than others. Therefore, it’s essential to research beforehand and select routes that match your skill level.

What You Need for Kayaking

Before hitting the water, make sure you have all necessary equipment. Basic equipment includes:

  • A kayak
  • A paddle
  • A life jacket (personal flotation device)
  • A helmet (for more challenging portions)
  • Proper clothing (quick-drying clothes are ideal)
  • Sun protection (such as sunscreen or hat)

You can rent or purchase equipment at various locations throughout Iowa.

Safety Tips

Kayaking can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to stay safe. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear a life jacket at all times while on the river.
  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Check the weather and water conditions before heading out.
  • Paddle with a partner or in a group if possible.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated.


Kayaking on the Des Moines River is an excellent adventure for anyone looking to explore Iowa’s natural beauty. With the proper equipment, knowledge, and safety precautions, kayaking on this river can be an unforgettable experience.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get ready for an exciting kayaking trip on the Des Moines River!

Photo of author

Michael Allen