Des Moines River Float Trips (Best viewed in Classic mode on mobile devices)
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The Des Moines River is
Iowa's longest trail system
Take a float trip from Rutland dam to Humboldt, to Ft. Dodge, and on to Dolliver State Park
Distance: 44 miles
With all of the portages in this trip, it may be necessary to take 2 days. There are camping areas in Gotch Park, Ft. Dodge, and at Dolliver State Park. Ft. Dodge is 25 miles downstream from Rutland.
There is camping and a carry down area below the dam at Rutland. This is a scenic area with a lovely new park. There is a fund raising and restoration effort underway. The Humboldt County Conservation Board and the Board of Supervisors have endorsed the river trail.
The trip to Humboldt is very scenic, with high, forested limestone bluffs and grassy banks. Some 2 miles downstream you pass the Oxbow Park boat ramp to the north and east of the Hwy. 3 bridge. There is also a boat ramp in Sheldon Park below the Hwy. 3 bridge. This is the Lake Nokomis area with lovely landscaped "seacoast" properties along 2 miles of the river. There is a boat ramp just above the Humboldt dam. Portage for about a half mile along the Cottonwood Trail and put in below the rock dam across from the power plant. This dam will tear the bottom out of your boat.
There is one more rock dam along the scenic 5 mile run to Gotch Park. I walked my boat around it also. There is a boat ramp at Gotch Park. The Corn Belt REC dam has been removed, making for safe passage from Gotch Park to Fort Dodge.
It's a quick 13 mile trip to the Ft. Dodge hydo dam. C49 passes close by the river 2 miles south. The C56 bridge is 3 miles south, and the D14 bridge is 5 miles downstream. There are many rapids, and the cliffs and woods are quite striking. The houses that line the riverbank are built up into the rock formations, and friendly folks will chat with you. There are campgrounds on the east side of the river. The hydro dam is well marked, and there is a boat ramp to take out. If you are a purist, you can put back in at the convenience store below the dam.
It is a 3 mile run under all the high bridges through Ft. Dodge. The low head dam is a challenge. You can scramble up the riverbank on the east side, with easy portage below the dam. The city has also built a ramp south of the lowhead dam on the west side which can be used if you want to portage from the hydro dam.
It's 13 miles to Dolliver State Park. The river is wide, and the current runs quite fast. It is about 5 miles to the Hwy.20 bridge, and and another 2 miles to the Kalo bridge. Dolliver is about 6 winding miles beyond Kalo, with a 3 mile run to the east and a 2 mile run back to the west. This area has many abandoned railroad bridges, and in some places the rusting tracks and old bridges disappear into the woods. Herons are plentiful on this stretch of the river.
|Driving Directions||The Rutland dam area is off Hwy. 3 east of Gilmore City, north on P33, just to the west after crossing the P33 bridge.
Oxbow Park ramp is on the north and east side of the Hwy. 3 bridge just west of Humboldt. The lower Sheldon access is in the park and is just downstream from the Hwy. 3 bridge.
The boat ramp above the Humboldt dam is on 1st St. on the north side of the river. Take 1st St. west off Hwy. 169 at Burger Boy.
The put in point just below the rock dam at the power plant is east and south off Hwy. 3, just to the east of the Hwy. 169 bridge.
Gotch Park is 1 mile N of Hwy C49, Off Hwy. 169, 1 mile E, , N on Gotch Park Rd., N bank Follow the signs. The boat ramp is the second right turn once you enter the park.
The hydro dam boat ramp in Ft. Dodge is east off Hwy. 169 (at the intersection with Hwy. 7), on NW 3rd. St., Off 169, at Hwy 7, N at 2nd St. NW, W bank past Hydo Park.
The new boat ramp below the low head dam in Ft. Dodge is on the west side of the river south of the Hwy. 20 (Business) bridge.
Dolliver State Park boat ramp is 4 miles NW of Lehigh off Hwy. 50, follow the excellent signs. Or, take Hwy. 50 E off Hwy. 169.
|Journal Entries||I could hear deer rustling in the woods at night|
|The local police came down to the river to see if I needed help|
|Rutland dam, with shadow
Rose Mill park is a great place to camp. We will miss Doug Wood.