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Paddling Instruction Opportunities

On-Line Paddle Safety Boating Course
Check out this free resource and improve your safety knowledge when it comes to paddling. This course is NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) approved. All new paddlers should take this free course and it is a great review for the experienced. Register for a free account and get started today.

Iowa DNR Canoe and Kayak Schools for 2020
Learn to paddle more efficiently and develop new skills. Class schedules and registration information have been posted. Contact Todd Robertson with any questions.

YouTube Channel: ACA | Canoe - Kayak - Raft - SUP - Rescue

Wear It Iowa


State law requires life jackets on every watercraft, whether it’s a motorized boat, jet ski, kayak, canoe, or even a paddleboard. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 84 percent of drowning victims who died from a boating accident were not wearing their life jackets. The best way to be “saved by the jacket” is to wear it at all times, no matter your level of swimming or boating expertise.

For more information about safe boating practices visit the National Safe Boating Campaign.

The Boating Education program is committed to providing Iowans with important resources and messages that save lives.

Paddling Regulations - Know before you go
+ Boating Laws and Responsibilities

This official Iowa boater safety handbook introduces you to laws governing boating and provides general information about safe operation on Iowa waters. 

Also available as a web-version and an eBook.

+ Meandered, Non-Meandered, and Navigable Rivers
+ Lighting Regulations
+ SUP (stand-up-paddleboarding)
+ Paddlers' Personal Behaviors
+ Leave No Trace

Paddle Safely

We want you to be safe on the water. A good first toward knowing what you need to know on the water in paddle craft is the American Canoe Associations "SmartStart" brochure.

To order paper copies for your group, please e-mail todd.robertson@dnr.iowa.gov.

SUP Safety: Leashes & Lifejackets

Video by: americancanoe.org

Paddling Safety Tips
  1. Wear a properly-fitted lifejacket while on the water. Never paddle under the influence of alcohol.
  2. Paddle with a group, not by yourself. Leave a "float plan" for your trip with a friend or relative.
  3. Dress appropriately for weather and water conditions, including air and water temperature. Avoid conditions for which you are not prepared.
  4. Learn about and study your route in advance, especially hazards that are beyond your skill level.
  5. Carry a supply of food and drinking water adequate for your trips length.
  6. Be able to read the water and effectively steer and propel your boat. Learn how to rescue yourself and others in the event of a capsize.
  7. Do not stand up in your boat, and avoid weight shifts that may cause capsize. Do not carry more weight or persons than your boat is designed to safely accommodate.
  8. Know where the dams are!
  9. Know and understand your river levels and flows, as well as the weather forecast. Remember, rain that has fallen upstream will be coming downstream!
  10. Watch out for newer paddlers. Offer advice, be supportive, share your knowledge and make them feel welcome.