Exploring local water ways on a kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP) paves the way for perfect summer adventures! Exercise, family time, fresh air… what more could you want? If you’re not a family with a kayak or SUP in your vest of sporting goods at home, there are plenty of places around the Des Moines area that can help.
Please check ahead for updated reservation policies, hours, restrictions, and safety precautions at any of these locations. And, if you’re looking for more fun things to do in Des Moines, check out our Summer Fun Guide and Events Calendar.
- Most places that rent kayaks and paddle boards allow patrons to use life jackets as part of the rental fee. But call ahead and verify they have the jacket size needed.
- Wind creates waves in lakes, making kayaking and paddle boarding difficult and possibly dangerous. Some canoeing outfitters don’t rent water craft in high wind (over 17 mph) which can happen pretty often in Iowa. Check the weather or call the outfitter before making the trip.
- When near the shore or in shallow water, have the kids get used to how the kayak or SUP rocks and moves when they move. Sudden and jerky movement will make them more likely to tip. Let them experience some of the rocking in a safe place so they will know exactly what movements to avoid during the trip.
- Talk with kids ahead of time about what to do if the kayak tips or they fall off the paddle board.
- If your kids are paddling on their own, make sure they are taught all the necessary paddling skills and safety tips.
- Your kids might not be as much of a kayak or SUP lover as you. If they don’t seem to be enjoying the sport, try and make it fun for them. Don’t get too pushy and critical when they are not doing well.
- Ask employees for tips before taking to the water. Most outfitter employees have a wealth of information. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration or voice your concerns.
Here’s your guide to boat outfitters that rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards in the central Iowa area:
Families can get out on the water in Johnston at Beaver Creek and Terra Park. Quarry Springs Outfitters provides kayak rental services at the NW 70th Avenue Beaver Creek access and Terra Park when the Beaver Creek flow is too high and unsafe, or when the creek is too low to allow for kayaking. Rentals are available for ages 12+ on Beaver Creek, but families can decide what age they are comfortable with when renting at Terra Park. Rentals are available in Johnston from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
2830 Easter Lake Drive • Des Moines, IA 50320 • (515) 418-0837
Easter Lake offers a calm venue for beginners to try kayaking or paddle boarding. Over the summer, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, fishing boats and Craig Cats are available to rent. Rentals are offered at an hourly rate and are on a first come first serve basis.
2208 George Flagg Parkway • Des Moines, IA 50321 • (515) 242-2855
Gray’s Lake offers a bit of everything, making the trip worth it. Families can rent double kayaks, SUPs, 2 & 3 person canoes and pedal boats. All rentals are based on either half-hour or hourly rates. Watercrafts cannot be reserved in advance; renting is first come-first served.
12112 NW 128th Street • Granger, IA 50109 • (515) 323-5339
Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center offers canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals and is ready to accommodate you and your family. Jester Park offers two boat ramps leading into Saylorville Lake. One is located off Jester Park Drive near the main campground, with the other located at the Lincoln Access beside the Mile-Long Bridge. Paddling rentals are offered per two hours.
1650 NW 118th Street • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-6117
CanoeSport Outfitters offers more than just standard kayaks. Families have the opportunity to rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, rowboats, paddle boats and canoes! All rentals are offered in 1/2- and 1-hour increments or daily. Rentals are on a first come first rent basis. They do not take reservations.
2500 Grand Avenue • West Des Moines, IA • (515) 440-4787
Set adrift from the brand new Raccoon River Boathouse and spend a memorable day on Blue Heron Lake that the Littles will be bragging about all summer long. Hourly and full-day rentals are available for single and double kayaks, fishing kayaks, SUPs and canoes. The Boathouse does not accept reservations. All rentals are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Find additional kayak and canoe resources here:
What’s your favorite place to kayak or SUP near Des Moines? Let us know in the comments!