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DNR offers safety tips for paddlers on the Raccoon River

  • 7/5/2022 1:24:00 PM
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Bridge construction on I-80 over the Raccoon River is creating dangerous conditions for paddlers. Warning signs are posted at some of the river accesses.

Check the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) interactive paddling map at to plan paddling trips and avoid bridge construction areas.

Stay away from strainers and sweepers—wood or branch piles—deadly hazards that can pull a paddler under or pin them underwater. These are usually found on outside river bends where currents are strongest, but can be found anywhere on rivers including at the base of bridge piers.

Iowa DNR offers the following safety tips to paddlers:

  • Wear a properly-fitted life jacket at all times while on the water, regardless of your swimming ability. 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 a canoe, kayak or paddleboard.
  • Check river flow rates at
  • 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.
  • Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wear light, loose fitting clothing that dries quickly. Wear a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
  • 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.
  • Explore the Iowa DNR’s water trail map library at for individual water trail maps, including access points and some history information.