Best places to paddle

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The best lakes for canoeing or kayaking in and around Des Moines County are:

PaddleBig Hollow

Des Moines County's newest lake - Big Hollow - is a paddler's paradise. 90 acres of standing timber inundated by the 178 acre lake offer paddlers opportunities to go where no larger craft can. Top it off with great scenery and high-quality fishing and paddlers could spend entire weekends exploring.

Lake Odessa

Managed by Iowa DNR and USFWS Just north in adjacent Louisa County, Lake Odessa offers great paddling and is well worth the drive. Part of the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, there are endless possibilities to see a variety of wildlife. Louisa County Conservation has established a great water trail and even offers rentals.

The best rivers for canoeing or kayaking in & around Des Moines County are:

Skunk River 

Creating Des Moines County's southern border, the Skunk River is a direct tributary of the Mississippi. It is accessible via Welter Recreation Area or places farther upstream in Henry County.

Iowa River 

A state-designated water trail, the Iowa River is accessible from adjacent Louisa County and places as far upstream as Iowa City.

Mississippi River

For advanced paddlers, the Mighty Mississippi offers fun and challenging paddling opportunities. In Des Moines County, a number of river accesses provide put-in and take-out points.

There are many more places to check out in Des Moines County. Check out all of Des Moines County Conservation's Recreation Areas.