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Cedar River in Iowa

Trip Overview

Nearly 30 miles on the northern portion of the Cedar River.

We put in at Mitchell, Iowa at the Interstate Park just below the dam at about 10:30 in the morning. We were immediately wet! Water levels were high which made for a quicker than normal float, but no walking or portaging.

We took our time and drank plenty of refreshments. We took out just before the dam/spillway in Charles City, Iowa around 6pm.

We saw many eagles, deer, vultures, otters, beavers, jumping fish, ducks, and baby geese (CUTE!). Nearly 8 hours on the river and we didn't encounter another boat until we entered into Charles City.

I'm giving this trip a "moderate" rating for the length as well as the high water level.

We encountered a few areas with rapids that went over the top of the boat and cooled us off.


We stayed at the Red Cedar Lodge just north of Charles City. Highly recommended!!!! Talk to the owners about using their kayaks if you don't have your own. We stayed in a two bedroom, two bath cabin that overlooks the Cedar River. We ate dinner (two nights) in Charles City at The Pub on the Cedar. Great burgers and beer!




Mitchell is located a few miles NW of Osage, IA.


I used a map from Nate Hoogeveen's book "Paddling Iowa." The "rock dam" north of Osage can be passed if you stay to the right. Water levels were so high, we went right over the top of it. The "floating bridge" at the golf course had been taken out due to the recent flooding so that wasn't an issue either.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip