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Lizard Creek in Iowa

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Tucked away in north-central Iowa, is a rugged and scenic creek that makes for a great paddling trip. This water trail is unlike most in this area - The streambed is almost entirely rock / sand, and large boulders will need to be navigated around in many locations. Our trip started at a bridge on P29 (south of Clare).

Soon after starting this trip, you'll find some exciting riffle areas, and may notice that the water is unusually clear for midwestern streams. On this stretch are some scenic sandstone and limestone cliffs on river right that are home to dozens of cliff swallows. A massive sheet of limestone in the streambed drops off into a mini-waterfall shortly before approaching the Hayes ave. bridge - This is the only bridge you'll pass under before the takeout on P41, and this bridge also provides a good put-in / take-point point for shorter trips. Shortly after passing under the bridge, you'll come to a more "wide-open" meadow area, in which you're practically guaranteed to see a group of local Canada geese.

Just as the scenery starts to make you feel relaxed, you'll come up on a rock riffle area that requires a little navigation. After passing under a railroad bridge, the scenery reverts to its' more rugged, tree-lined characteristic. A couple hundred yards past this bridge, a rocky tributary stream tumbles in on river left, and would likely provide a good fishing spot for the smallmouth bass that populate this creek. After some more steep cliffs and riffle areas, we arrived at our takeout bridge on P41.

You can, however, continue your float for several more miles, as it tumbles down to the Des Moines river in Fort Dodge. Our trip took about 3 1/2 hours, but realize that Lizard Creek would be a more difficult paddle during periods of low rainfall - There were no sections that we had to drag through, but if just a few inches lower, there would have been several. Don't let that deter you from a trip down one the most scenic waterways in Iowa that I've been on - you may just need to plan a shorter trip or allocate more time.

If you plan an extended paddling trip to this area, there are some other good day trips I would recommend - The Des Moines river from Humboldt to Fort Dodge, and from Fort Dodge (put in below lower dam) to Dolliver Park, the Boone river south of Webster City, as well as flat-water paddling on Brushy Creek lake can keep a paddler busy for several days.


Fort Dodge has plenty of "modern" accommodations, or you could camp out at Brushy Creek or Dolliver State Park.


Both put-in (P29) and take-out (P41) are found just north of Hwy 7, west of Fort Dodge.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location