your paddlesports destination

Cedar River in Iowa

Trip Overview

My friend and I drove up to Palo from Cedar Rapids and put our kayaks in at Chain Lakes Public Use Area. This was the first time that I had taken a paddling trip on the Cedar since I was a kid and it was well worth it. If any of you are familiar with the Cedar then you probably know what to expect on a trip like this.

The river was pretty low most of the way up until just north of Ellis Park, maybe 3-4 feet most of the time. What made the trip great was the beautiful scenery along the way. Aside from the general beauty of the lazy winding river and trees we saw a lot of turkey vultures soaring overhead, jumping fish, deer... we were sad not to see any bald eagles on this trip. It's nice though that they are becoming more and more frequent to see around here.

We took out at Ellis Park, about 5 hours after we started. The amount of time this trip takes is going to be mostly contingent on your attitude. We had a pretty good head wind and preferred to drink beer and recline rather than paddle too vigorously. Maybe next time I take this route I'll have a tail wind and more ambition. But this was Labor Day and there was no hurry.

I would recommend, for sanity sake, that you take out along Ellis Rd and avoid the long paddle through the ski boat infested waters around Ellis Park. It seemed that most of them were actually trying to see how much wake they could make for us to have to paddle through.

Very good trip though. I hope to make it a bit longer next time by putting in around Vinton, hopefully before October. Maybe I'll see you out there!


No camping at put-in point or take-out point but, the Cedar is a meandering river and by law it is legal to camp on sandbars!


Not that I am aware of


From Cedar Rapids take Ellis Rd NW west to Covington Rd (highway 94). Take Covington Rd north until you get to Chain Bridge Rd and take a right. Just head straight down that road until you get to the parking lot.

There are a couple other ways to get there from cedar rapids, just mapquest it and make your own! or take a helicopter...

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

Locations on this Trip