Des Moines River Float Trips (Best viewed in Classic mode on mobile devices)
The Des Moines River is
The trip from Emmetsburg to Rutland is truly wild and scenic. You will paddle for miles with only the sounds of the birds to interrupt the rushing of the water. There are otters by the Basswood ramp, and you may linger to watch them at play. I did this trip on four different days, but the water was running fairly slow. In faster water, this is a 2 day trip. There is camping at Mulroney near Rodman, at River Runner near West Bend, at Willow near Bradgate, and at the Rutland Dam area. I caught a football game at West Bend-Mallard High School.
The river winds gently through forest and greenbelt down to Mulroney Access. You occasionally pass under a bridge or near a rural road. The first landmark past Emmetsburg is the Hwy. 4 bridge, about 4 miles downstream. The river begins to turn to the east 3 miles south, and passes under a county road bridge 3 miles from Mulroney Access. The total trip, per my GPS, was 12 miles, somewhat longer than the guidebooks tell you.
Mulroney is set back in the woods about a mile from B55. It is 8 miles to River Runner. The stretch from Rodman to River Runner passes under the B55 bridge after about 2 miles of rowing, and under several bridges, but it is still quite remote and scenic. The play of sunlight on water and the fall colors made for striking photographs. You pass under the B63 bridge about 6 miles into the trip, and arrive at River Runner Access 2 miles downstream. I camped at River Runner, going into West Bend to see the Grotto and get supplies. It is pretty country, and I enjoyed seeing plentiful deer in the forest.
The trip to Willow Access near Bradgate is 10 miles. You immediately get into deep woods, and a leafy canopy that often shades you from the sun. I saw lots of deer along the riverbank. 3 miles downstream is the C20 bridge. Another 3 miles and you are at the Hamm's Bridge access maintained by Pocahontas County. Another 4 miles and you paddle under the C26 bridge near Bradgate, and then it's less than a mile to the Willow Access. This area is set back from the road in a wooded area, and the access road is quite rough.
The 8 mile paddle to Rutland will be one of the most direct on the river. The West Fork widens and picks up speed considerably, and this will be a 2 hour trip in most conditions. There is a pool to the north behind the old pump house, and you can take the boat out up a gentle incline. There was a major restoration project underway to upgrade this area, known as Rose Mill Park
|Driving Directions||Basswood Access is north of Emmetsburg on Hwy. 4/18. Don't take the exit for the college and the recreation area. The ramp is just south of the bridge, down a fairly steep incline.
Mulroney Access is 2 miles west of Rodman on Hwy. B55, turn north on the gravel road and go past the park.
River Runner Access is 3.5 miles west of West Bend, on B63, then follow the signs along the gravel roads. There is a major bridge that crosses the river, and the access is south on the east side of the river.
Hamm's Access is North of Bradgate on P19, 1.7 miles W off P19 on C18 (440th St.).
Willow Access is east of C26 just south of the bridge. It is well marked.
The Rutland Dam take out point is just north of the P33 bridge, 1/4 mile west. P33 is off Hwy. 3 just about 3 miles west of Humboldt.
|Journal entry||I came across 3 deer swimming in the river; Sparkly water and luminous foliage|
Sparkling water, numerous deer, Moingona river spirits in the water on a gorgeous fall float near West Bend