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Des Moines River in Minnesota

by  P_demuth

A self-supported trip created by P_demuth

Trip Overview

I put in at the first bridge on state highway 62 east of Talcot Lake and paddled down to the next bridge on highway 62. It was an easy paddle. I took this trip by myself. I enjoyed the isolation and the wildlife this type of paddle gave me access to, normally with my children there is a lot of talking and laughing and the wildlife hear us coming for miles. I took my Dagger Blackwater. I dropped my Blackwater at the first bridge and drove the 2.7 miles east to the next bridge. I put my bike in back of my pickup with the kayak for shuttling. The bike ride was 10 minutes on black top with a nice tail wind.

It was quite windy with a few white caps on the first couple of bends. The temperature was 70-80 degrees with clouds and a storm threatening to the north that never materialized.

The Des Moines River gets down to a trickle this time of year, this will be the last weekend of the summer that you will be able to paddle it with out a lot of dragging. I came across a half a dozen spots were I hit bottom but was able to push through with out getting out. The flow at Jackson was 442 CFS, Jackson is the closet gage on line at:

There were no fences or trees across the river, just shallow water was the major obstacle I faced. For the most part the river has a sandy/silt bottom with a few rocky spots I had to bump over.

The scenery along the banks changes from cottonwood/willow wooded to open farmland and pasture quite frequently. I saw Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Gold Finches, ducks, Canadian Geese and other animals. On almost ever sand bar there were killdeer walking and calling. I only saw one nice size box turtle. The Carp were out in force and would startle me occasions with their jumps and splashing.

The total paddle was 4.8 river miles and took me an hour and a half.


Worthington or Windom will have the closest accommodations.


None required


From I-90 in Worthington take MN 60 North-East to Heron Lake, then County 9 to MN 62.


"Paddling Southern Minnesota" by Lynne and Robert Diebel has some info. on the river lower down.

Trip Details

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location