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5 Best Places to Paddle in Eastern Iowa

Paddle season is rapidly approaching! With that, we’d like to list out our favorite places to Paddle in Eastern Iowa. We’ve included options for beginners and experienced paddlers so there’s an option for everyone. We may be biased so let us know where you like to paddle and tag us on Facebook/Instagram when you hit the waterways this summer!

Prairie Park Fishery, 2125 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

Prairie Park Fishery is an easy go to for us being just 2 miles from our front door, it’s open year-round, seven days per week, from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

By Iowa standards, the lake at the fishery is deep with unusually clear water. It includes two basins. The larger east basin is about 30 feet deep with steeply sloping banks. The west basin is smaller and shallower. A boat ramp is near this basin.

The lake offers outstanding paddling opportunities inside city limits. We host quite several of our events like SUP Yoga and our annual Paddle Day which will a great chance to try out one of our rental paddle boards or kayaks.

Lake Macbride, 3525 Highway 382 NE, Solon, IA 52333 

Lake Macbride is one of the most picturesque lakes in all of Iowa a definite must among paddlers destinations. Lake Macbride State Park is Iowa’s largest state park at 2180 acres and the 812 acre lake is a “no wake” lake so you won’t have to contend with any fast moving motor boats. Last year we hosted out first Full Moon Paddle there and are planning on doing that again this year as it was truly a magical night!

Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area

Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area is a premier outdoor recreation venue of Linn County. The 410 acre lake at Pleasant Creek SRA is one of the most popular boating spots in eastern Iowa. Four launching sites are conveniently located around the lake. These sites have a total of seven ramps for fishing, leisure boating and any size boat motor may be operated at "no-wake" speeds, so another great calm water spot.

Wapsipinicon River

There are a lot of great little rivers in northeast Iowa to explore, one of the closest to here is the Wapsi. Takes more experience to navigate the current of a river but the Wapsi is a great river to try for the first the gentle flow of the river and the wide, unobstructed stream are the perfect spots to develop your skills. Another consideration that comes with river travel is the logistics of shuttling vehicles as you will not be starting and finishing in the same location. 

Cedar River/ Iowa River

Ok, we’re kind of cheating but both the Cedar River and Iowa River offer great options for experienced paddlers. The Cedar and Iowa Rivers are wider and offer some great little day trips. Palisades State Park to Sutliff on the Cedar is a great 3-4 hour float with some nice rocky bluffs along the way and a fun spot for lunch at the historic Sutliff Bridge. 

The Iowa River is where I got my start paddling when I was around 10 years old. My mom would drop my dad and I off with a fully loaded canoe in Amana and we’d paddle and camp on a sand bar then make our way into the beginning of Coralville Lake where we got picked up. Some awesome memories of what ignited my adventurous spirit.

Be on the lookout for events SOKO will host this summer, a paddle day at Prairie Park Fisheries where you can come out and try a paddle board or kayak on June 18th, a guided day paddle down the Cedar River with cookout July 2nd, a full moon paddle on Lake Macbride July 13th

We have SUP’s and Kayaks available to rent along with PFD’s and straps and pads to secure it all to your vehicle.Learn more about our SUP and kayak rentals here!

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