SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There are lots of different types of kayaks and places to paddle them in South Dakota, so the key is finding the one that fits you best, said Jon Giblin of the South Dakota Canoe and Kayak Association (SDCKA).
Giblin offers some standard advice for beginners and experienced kayakers: Always wear a lifejacket and get knowledge and understanding of the area you plan to paddle.
A kayaker who plans to paddle a section of the Big Sioux River north of Sioux Falls, should find out about possible fences on that section of the river, for example, Oblin said.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) has a list of requirements for fence gates on the Big Sioux River sections.
“Search out people with advice,” Oblin said. “Our organization (SDCKA) is willing to help.”
Areas around the state have paddling clubs that can often be found through an internet or Facebook search.
“It’s easier to get advice, than to learn on your own,” Oblin said.
What kind of kayak should I buy?
Before buying a kayak, think of how you will transport that kayak, Oblin said.
Will you need a trailer, will it be placed in a truck, or will you be placing the kayak on a rack on top of the vehicle?
The user needs to be able to lift and move the kayak before and after it goes in the water.
Generally, sit in kayaks weigh less than a sit on kayak. Because they weigh less, a sit-in kayak are be easier to lift and transport to water.
The body is below the water’s surface in a sit-in kayak so it feels less stable than a sit-on kayak, he said.
“You need to be one with the water with a sit-in but it’s so much easier than people think,” Oblin said.
A sit-on-top kayak is heavier than a sit-in but it can feel more stable, he said.
Paddling websites may not recommend one type over the other but will say there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The user needs to consider where they will be paddling.
Field & Stream did publish a list of recommendations for beginners in April.
The length of a kayak must also be considered because the person will be lifting and carrying that kayak.
“There’s something out there for everyone,” Oblin said.
Where should I kayak?
There’s a lot of public water in South Dakota that can be accessed by a kayak. Experience can determine if someone wants to navigate a slough area or the Missouri River.
The state’s Game Fish and Parks Department has a paddling page on its website.
The GFP says that kayaks and canoes should not be taken out in windy or stormy conditions. Paddlers are advised to stay close to shore, especially when just learning to canoe/kayak and wear a properly fitting lifejacket.
There are resources for specific water bodies such as the Big Sioux River.
The GPF lists the Jay Heath Canoe and Kayak Trail for the Big Sioux River on its website.
The SDCKA also has links to paddle trail maps on its website.
Access is available at many South Dakota State Parks. Rentals are also available at many state parks.
Giblin said there are many opportunities to kayak in the state.
“Lakes are great because the starting and end point are the same,” Giblin said.
If a paddler chooses a river, they need a start and end point so it involves a drop-off and a pick up, he said.
A person can choose to start and paddle back to the starting point on a river, “It’s a lot more work to paddle back,” Giblin said. A person could choose to paddle against a current at the start and return to the starting point with the current.
Giblin’s family has a cabin on the Missouri River so he’s on that river a lot. But, he also finds an evening on the 11-acre Family Park lake in Sioux Falls enjoyable.
He also has a favorite spot on the Big Sioux River above the dam in Garretson. It’s protected from the wind by river bluffs. “The scenery is amazing there,” Giblin said.
No matter where they live in the state, there is a lake not that far away, Giblin said.
Sioux Empire Paddlers has a list of ponds, lakes, rivers and streams to paddle in the Sioux Falls region. A few lakes included in the list include Lake Alvin and Grass Lake.
In western South Dakota, users can rent kayaks at Angostura Recreation area.
Okobojo Point Recreation Area in central South Dakota is one spot to kayak.
Kayak rentals are available at Roy Lake State Park in northeastern South Dakota.
Kayak rentals are available at Lake Vermillion State Recreation Area.
When to kayak?
The GFP advises, don’t kayak in a storm or windy day. Wind can be worse on an open lake.
Giblin said early morning paddles can be the best. “I prefer sunset…,” he said.
Lakes can get busy with recreational boaters as the day progresses.
In general “Always act like a boat doesn’t see you,” Giblin said. “I typically stay close to shore and I tend to wear a bright color and I may have a flag.”
Renting a kayak
Rentals are available at various South Dakota state parks. Private businesses around the state also rent kayaks.
Here’s one example, Lakeside Fun Rentals in Yankton lists kayaks for rent. Nyberg’s Ace Hardware in Sioux Falls rents kayaks.
Black Hills paddle sports also offers rentals.
An internet search for kayak rentals in South Dakota as well as the GFP website can help locate rentals around the state.