Because the Des Moines River doesn't begin at Hwy 20 and end at Hwy. 92
Rutland to Dolliver SP

Des Moines River Float Trips  (Best viewed in Classic mode on mobile devices)  


 updated 10/2019:

for stories and pix, see the DMRWT PBase gallery


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 access (the dam has been removed, although 1 gate remains and may be a hazard in high water).  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.  There is a boat ramp to take out just before the former hydro dam.  

It is a 3 mile run under all the high bridges through Ft. Dodge.  The little dam has been removed.  There is a boat ramp just downstream of the former little dam, by the railroad bridge and the Hwy 20 (business) bridge.

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.  

Deer Creek access is off 130 th St. going north of Ft. Dodge on Hwy. 169.

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.

Access/Landmark Latitude Longitude
Rutland dam N42 45 18.2 W94 17 44.7
Oxbow Park  ramp, Humboldt N42 43 55.9 W94 15 25.5
Dam ramp, Humboldt N42 43 39.3 W94 13 44.7
Gotch Park ramp, Humboldt N42 40 33.5 W94 11 57.6
C49, Ft. Dodge N42 39 05.0 W94 11 22.2
C56 bridge, Ft. Dodge N42 36 57.0 W94 12 48.3
Deer Creek N42 35 59.0 W94 13 32.4
D14 bridge, Ft. Dodge N42 32 37.0 W94 12 58.5
Hydro Park ramp, Ft. Dodge N42 31 11.0 W94 11 58.1
Former little dam ramp, Ft. Dodge N42 29 27.3 W94 11 03.0
Hwy. 20 bridge, Ft. Dodge N42 26 55.3 W94 08 04.3
Kalo bridge N42 25 54.6 W94 07 57.3
Dolliver St. Park N42 23 24.1 W94 04 44.2


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.



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