Kayaking the Upper Iowa River
The Upper Iowa River is a tributary of the Mississippi, running nearly parallel to the Iowa-Minnesota border. It's one of the most beautiful places in Iowa to kayak or canoe. The river varies from from an open prairie setting to a narrow, winding stream with 400 foot tall limestone bluffs. There are no dangerous rapids, though occasional fallen trees can cause tipping if you're not paying attention. For much of its course the river bottom is private property and some landowners may install fences across your path. Be on the lookout for those and navigate with care and respect. Navigating becomes more difficult during low water periods such as late summer.
Fishing is excellent. You'll find small mouth bass, rock bass, & trout throughout the river with channel catfish, walleye, sauger & northern pike in the lower river. You'll have the most success in the lower part of the river. Be sure to bring your Roll Catch Cooler to keep your catch fresh!
One or Two Day Paddle?
Many begin in or below Kendallville but more experienced paddlers start in Lime Springs or Florenceville. From Lime Springs to Florenceville you'll find a typical prairie stream with low cut banks. The current picks up around Kendallville. If you only have time for a one day paddle, put in at Kendallville and paddle to Decorah. Whether you're going for one hour to two days, don't forget your Comfy Kayak seat! This is a great trip for adding a lumbar pad to your kayak seat for a little extra lower back support.
There are several excellent campgrounds along the route. You can even rent a kayak in Bluffton or Cresco and put in at Chimney Rock Park.
Upper Iowa Sites
Sites to see off the river:
Chimney Rock near Cresco
Malanaphy & Dunning Springs are within walking distance of the river
Decorah has many great restaurants, several museums, Luther College, a fish hatchery, Seed Savers, and Nordic Fest in July celebrates everything Scandinavia.