Monthly Feature: Get Acquainted with a Water Trail Des Moines River: Boone County

Features: Railroad and numerous trains, low-head dam at Fraser, rock arch rapids at Boone Waterworks, river up to 100 yards wide in locations, heavily wooded corridor, high trestle bridge, upland woodlands

Water levels: The US Army Corps of Engineers regulates water levels upstream in Lake Red Rock, so water levels may be unexpectedly low, or high and fast, depending on upstream management

Classified:The Des Moines is a meandered stream. That means that private property begins at the high water mark, typically where vegetation begins. The river bed, sandbars and banks up to the high water mark are held in public trust for the people of Iowa. Sandbar camping is allowed on meandered streams.

Access Points: 11 access points with 42 total miles of river corridor

Skills Needed: Beginner and intermediate. Check the map at

River drop: < 2 feet

Possible wildlife views of: Beaver, turtles, dragonflies, white tailed deer

Birding: Major ancient flyway corridor. Possible species: Belted Kingfisher, bank, cliff and rough-winged swallows, phoebes, killdeer, sandpipers, turkey vultures, eagles, hawks,

Tree species: Hardwood forests, Willows, Basswood, Oaks

*Credits: Excerpts taken from the Iowa DNR Water Trail brochure: Des Moines River: Boone County

Brochures and maps:
Can be downloaded and paper copies can be picked up at assorted Conservation offices and Nature Centers. Go to for online viewing.

A good way to plan your trip is by using the IDNR Interactive Mapping Services resource. Go to the IMS Guide for instructions on how to use the Interactive Mapping Services, or access the IMS directly by going to Recreation Map at or at