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Stay safe paddling this 4th of July holiday weekend

  • 6/28/2022 3:13:00 PM
  • View Count 3030
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Iowa lakes and rivers will be busy with paddlers this long holiday weekend. 

Paddlers can enjoy water trails that currently span 36 counties across the state via streams and lakes of all sizes and lengths. Iowa has 18,000 miles of navigable waterways, and no shortage of streams and lakes to paddle. 

Check the Iowa DNR’s interactive paddling map ( for updates on real-time hazards like downed trees and log jams, strainers and bridge construction. 

“The number one hazard on the river is strainers,” said Todd Robertson, paddling instructor and Outreach Coordinator for Rivers Programs at the Iowa DNR. “Piles of trees and branches can suck a paddler in and under with little chance of escape.”

Stay safe this holiday weekend and each time you paddle with these simple safety tips.

  • Always wear your life jacket. Kids 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times when underway on a recreational vessel on any Iowa water. It’s also law that those 13 and over, if not wearing their life jacket, must have a life jacket on board their vessel. 
  • Learn about and study your route in advance. Be able to read the water and effectively steer and propel your boat. 
  • Paddle with a group, not by yourself.
  • Tell a friend or loved one where you will be paddling, including what access to what access, and when you are expected to return. It will be easier to find you if you need help.
  • Bring along a dry bag with a set of extra clothes you can change into if you get wet, a first-aid kit and a protected cell phone or weather radio. 
  • Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wear light, loose fitting clothing that dries quickly. Wear a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
  • Explore the Iowa DNR’s water trail map library at for individual water trail maps, including access points and some history information.