Class I Des Moines River, MN/IA

Des Moines River State Water Trail

While paddling through Boone County, one can experience and imagine past and present movements of people, wildlife, and goods and materials. The rich history includes Native Americans paddling dugout canoes and fording shallow areas on horseback en-route to and from summer hunting grounds. Bridges still cross the river, beckoning to a past era when railroads dominated transportation. Fish and wildlife are part of the moving waters, and birds follow centuries-old river corridor migration routes.

The Des Moines is a meandered stream. That means that private property begins at the high-water mark, typically where vegetation begins. The river bed, sandbars and banks up to the high-water mark are held in public trust for the people of Iowa. Sandbar camping is allowed on meandered streams.

The US Army Corps of Engineers regulates water levels upstream in Lake Red Rock, so water levels may be unexpectedly low, or high and fast, depending on upstream management. (Iowa DNR)

Section Details

Trip Length Multiday, 161.0 Miles
Fishing Yes
Camping Yes
Manager State, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Wild & Scenic No
Water Trail Yes
Partner Information