5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in Iowa

By Brad Lane

5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in Iowa

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There are few better ways to explore a body of water than on top of a paddleboard. Perhaps it’s the vantage point, perched atop the water affording the most stunning views. Maybe it’s the excellent core workout. The combination of the two makes for an easy and fun adventure everyone can enjoy. In Iowa, you’ll find enormous lakes and man-made parks to practice your skills. Here are five great paddleboarding spots in the state. 

1. Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, Iowa City, IA

Located south of the University of Iowa Campus, Terry Trueblood Recreation Area and Sand Lake provide a slice of natural respite not far from the academic community. Recreation can be found within and around Terry Trueblood Recreation Area throughout the year, including cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter, but the summer is the perfect time to explore the water. Thanks to the adjacent H20 Center provided by the local outdoor retailer Fin & Feather, Sand Lake offers the perfect place to stand-up paddleboard, including affordable rentals to get you on the water for the first time. 

2. Lake Okoboji

Serving as Iowa’s number one lake getaway, Lake Okoboji provides an endless amount of entertainment in the form or shopping, dining, and plenty of recreation opportunities. Among the many things to do at Lake Okoboji, paddleboarding is fast becoming the most popular, and thanks to the local SUP IOWA located in Arnold’s Park, anyone can get out on the water. SUP IOWA offers paddleboard sales, rentals, classes, clinics, and outings throughout the summer months, leaving behind little excuses not to give paddleboarding a try. 

3. Gray’s Lake Park, Des Moines, IA

Once a working gravel and sand excavation location, Gray’s Lake now stands as a centerpiece of Des Moines, providing a relaxing and well-used waterfront trail and landscape. Outside of hiking around Gray’s Lake and into the adjoining Waterworks Park, a popular water activity in this city space is stand-up paddleboarding. While anyone is encouraged to bring their own vessel, for those just getting into the sport, the local paddleboard shop, No Coast Stand Up, has everything you need to enjoy paddleboarding at Gray’s Lake. Featuring rentals, classes, and special outings like yoga on the water, No Coast Stand Up in conjunction with the scenic Gray’s Lake combine to make a key community outlet in Des Moines. 

4. Charles City Whitewater Park, Charles City, IA

The man-made waves on the Cedar River at the Charles City Whitewater Park attract many different types of paddlers. On any given day, and especially on the weekends, the Charles City Whitewater Park is filled with kayaks, tubes, and especially stand-up paddleboards. The water isn’t quite as calm as some of the lakes in Iowa that are popular to paddle in, but that’s the point when visiting the Charles City Whitewater Park. After an afternoon of navigating the rapids on a paddleboard at this urban whitewater park, you’ll never want to go back to still water again.

5. Lake Red Rock, Knoxville, IA

Serving as the largest lake in Iowa, Lake Red Rock near Pella caters towards all type of adventurous outings. Camping, biking, bird watching, you name it, if it’s an outdoor attraction in Iowa you are looking for, then Lake Red Rock has it. For perhaps the most relaxing time on the water, Lake Red Rock is primed for paddleboarding. With plenty of piers and sandy shores to launch off, you can keep your paddleboard experience at Lake Red unique with each visit. While anytime is a great time to put the paddleboard out on Lake Red Rock, the sunrises and sunsets provide a magical light to memorialize your experience. 

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