If the warmer weather has your family dreaming of row, row, rowing gently down the stream, we’ve rounded up a few places for a little water exploration! Get the whole family geared up and ready for some summertime paddling fun at one of these five places to go canoeing or kayaking in Des Moines.
8550 NW 142nd Avenue • Polk City, IA 50226 • (515) 984-6083
Grab some oars and launch into Big Creek Lake from the dock behind its Marina of the same name. Spend the day exploring the lake and then take a break at the picnic area, beach, or playground. Or make a weekend of it and camp. In addition to canoes and kayaks, Big Creek Marina also rents many other watercraft such as pontoons, sail boats, fishing boats and more.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 7:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Seasonally.
Cost: Canoes: $12/hour; Kayaks $12/hour
203 W Salem Avenue • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-6117
Canoe Sport Outfitters can set you and your petite-paddler up with everything you need for a fun-filled family adventure, whether you’re looking to canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard or paddle boat. This super friendly rental center on Lake Ahquabi offers take-away rentals; classes and certification; events and adventure trips.
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Cost: Canoes: $10/half hour, $13/hour, $42/day; Kayak: $10/half hour, $13/hour, $47/day; Stand Up Paddleboard: $10/half hour, $13/hour, $45/day
2121 Fleur Drive • Des Moines, IA • (515) 237-1386
Set adrift on Gray’s Lake and spend a memorable day on the water that your kiddos will be bragging about all summer long. Half hour and hourly rentals are available at the Concession Stand. Canoes, double kayaks, single kayaks, standup paddle-boards, pedal boats and sailboats are available to rent. Watercrafts cannot be reserved in advance, renting is on a first come-first serve basis.
Hours: Daily 10:00 am to 8:00 pm Memorial Day Weekend through August 14th; Weekdays 4:00 to 8:00 pm, Weekends 10:00 am to 8:00 pm August 15th through Labor Day.
Cost: $5/half hour or $10/hour
205 South Main Street • Linden IA 50146 • (641) 744-2603
Spend the day exploring the Middle/South Raccoon River Water Trail through some of the most beautiful scenery Iowa has to offer. Linden Canoes & kayaks has easy access to all of the boat ramps between Panora and Redfield and offers shuttle service to guests renting canoes and kayaks as well as to those who have their own boats.
Hours: Daily hours vary and are based on weather and scheduled tours May through October.
Cost: Kayaks: $30/day; Canoes $40/day
1086 222nd Drive • Boone IA 50036 • (515) 432-9457
Seven Oaks invites you to set out on the tranquil waters of the Des Moines River valley. On a quiet afternoon you will see animals on the river banks, birds flying overhead, wild flowers growing in the wooded bluffs and a bald eagles nest just past the Kate Shelly High Bridge. The Recreation Center rents canoes, kayaks and tubes. They offer a seven mile float for all three vessels and a 15 mile float for canoers and kayakers. Kids are welcome, but water craft will not be rented to persons 15 years of age and younger without adult supervision.
Hours: 12:00 to 6:00 pm May through August and 5:00 pm September through October.
Cost: Canoes: Start at $48/per canoe; Kayaks: Start at $36/per kayak; Tubes: $28/per tube
Have you gone canoeing or kayaking in Des Moines before? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below.