Split Rock Creek
Enjoy a lazy afternoon canoeing or kayaking with family and friends. The novice can ‘get their feet wet’ in the slow moving water of the Jim River. For the more experienced, Split Rock Creek offers some of the best white-water paddling in South Dakota. Have a camera or binoculars ready for wildlife and for the scenic panoramas you’ll discover along the rivers of Southeast South Dakota.
The James River, a typical prairie stream, has been noted as the longest unnavigable river in the world. Fortunately, this distinction doesn’t apply to paddlers who travel the river in spring and early summer. There are a number of access points near US and SD Highways.
Big Sioux River
Originating in northeastern South Dakota, the Big Sioux River winds southward to Sioux Falls, where it forms the boundary between South Dakota and Iowa until it meets the Missouri River. With good water levels in the spring and early summer, it is possible to paddle from US 14 near Brookings to the river’s confluence with the Missouri River. Paddlers favor the segment from Lien Park in Sioux Falls to Newton Hills State Park. This stretch can usually be paddled spring and summer. Points of interest include the Big Sioux Recreation Area, Gitchie Manitou Park, the old Klondike Mills site and Newton Hills State Park. Both Big Sioux and Newton Hills have canoe launch sites and camping facilities. A park entrance license is required for these parks. There are several dangerous low head dams where watercraft must be portaged to the other side. Be certain to locate ALL dams before setting out.
Split Rock Creek
Split Rock Creek winds a scenic route through northeastern Minnehaha County before meeting the Big Sioux River east of Sioux Falls. During high water flow in the spring and after heavy summer rain, it is one of South Dakota’s best streams for white-water paddlers. If you are not an experienced white-water paddler, some stretches can be hazardous. The stream drops 130 feet in 8 miles between the SD 11 access west of Garretson through Palisades State Park to the SD 11 access north of Corson. Access can be found at Palisades State Park and township, county, state and federal rights-of-way that cross the river as well as at McHardy Park in Brandon. The sheer walls of red quartzite that line portions of the creek provide a scenic trip for paddlers.
Generally, this scenic river can be paddled from spring to fall from Centerville south to the Missouri River. Launching access may be found at township, county, state and federal rights-of-way that cross the river. Late summer and fall canoeing is best from the road crossing east of Wakonda to the Missouri River. Colorful fall foliage is especially showy from Vermillion southward.
Two segments of the Missouri River are administered by the National Park Service as the Missouri National Recreational River. They are also in the National Wild and Scenic River System. Today, these sections look much like they did in the early 1800s during the Lewis and Clark expedition. Due to the currents and sudden windstorms, these segments are for experienced paddlers only. The first segment is 39 miles from the Randall Creek Recreation Area at Pickstown to Running Water. The second segment is 59 miles long from below Gavins Point Dam to Ponca State Park in Nebraska. For more info – (402) 667-2550.