yellow river iowa

Wow, you’re hitting several of the rivers I know. Done the Yellow often enough from Volney to Ion bridge. Never regretted it. We sometimes do that stretch on the way back to Wisconsin from the Upper Iowa, though I’ve never done that bit you did right out of the state forest. It must seem like pretty mild water compared to WV, but its what we have close to home, so we paddle it. This is right in Vic and Dick Howard’s (two long time veterans of the Pnet gallery) home range.

The Upper Iowa from Granger to Decorah is another very nice bit of river near the Yellow. The area around Bluffton is especially scenic, though it is not real “sporty”. There’s a nice little waterfall that comes into the river just upstream from Decorah. It can be a “party river” on midsummer weekends though. The Yellow doesn’t seem to suffer as much from that syndrome.

Vic and Dick also introduced me to the Turkey and Maquoketa rivers although the latter was in flood when I was there and I didn’t get to become very familiar with it due to some fairly treacherous flooded landings. Did you get to check either of those out? There are a bunch of caves on the Maquoketa, if you’re into that.

Also, on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi and not far away is the Kickapoo. That’s another nice one in the “driftless” (unglaciated, at least in the most recent round of glaciation) area of the Mississippi drainage. Ontario to La Farge is the most popular section of that one. Downstream from there it is less well maintained and often blocked by strainers, but still flowing through beautiful bluffs and forest.

I’ve got some more stills and videos to process- probably the next stormy day I’ll get more together- did paddle Volga, Upper Iowa (Chimney Rock Bridge to Scenic Road) and further south the Wapsi. Iowa was a pleasant state to paddle in- good scenery, I had good water levels that provided some push and lots of free public access, Yet it was just commercial enough so that I could hire shuttles yet remained uncrowded during the week in the early mornings when I hit the water. I didn’t have to register my kayak, the state has some nice affordable campgrounds, and all the people I dealt with were really friendly. It felt very patriotic on the 4th of July to see the large american flags mounted up on the farm machinery as I drove across the countryside. I saw a lot of the state- from south to north twice, and east to west- none on interstates, and did my share of gravel roads. I love my mountains in wv but a change of scenery is always desirable now and then.
I’ll probably spend at least a week paddling in Wisconsin sometime in the future. That will be its own trip.

Iowa does require you to register your boat, but your chances of running into law-enforcement personnel are pretty slim. Since 1981 I have done more than 50 river trips in Iowa and have never seen a game warden. Nobody else you meet there is going to care about whether your boat is registered. Minnesota has exactly the same rule. In the case of both states, if you come from another state that requires registration and your registration there is current, that’s good enough.

I was under the impression there was a minimum length requirement- my boat was under 9 ft long so believed rightly or wrongly that no registration was required
from the state’s webpage:
“The Iowa DNR requires all boats operated on state waters to be registered, with the following exceptions:
Inflatable watercraft measuring 7 ft or shorter.
Canoes and kayaks:
13 ft or shorter.
Not propelled by a sail or motor”

Okay, it sounds like you checked more closely than I ever did. I’ve noticed that all canoes in Iowa are registered so I never thought about a possible minimum length, and it wouldn’t affect me anyway (my shortest canoe is 14 feet).

Yeah, we spend a lot of time here on pcom advising each on the “perfect boat” based on how they paddle. I looked under my porch and thought, “which boat is easiest to load or carry 20x, will ride upside down on my racks, and beat boat registration laws” My only paddling criteria was that it needed to be able to run class IV water- the most extreme environment of my trip. None of my paddle days were over 15 miles long, most had pretty good current, so a short boat worked- just a little slower on the flats.