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Difficulty I at this flow (I-II normally)
Length 0.12 Miles
Gauge Maquoketa River at Manchester, IA
Flow Range 100 - 5000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 35 minutes ago 150 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 02/07/2020 5:51 pm

River Description

Six features spanning approximately 1000 feet on the Maquoketa River in downtown Manchester. This whitewater park was built for the 98%, meaning the features were largely designed for beginners (kayaks, SUPs, boogie boards, canoes, tubes, swimmers), access for fishing, fish passage, and aquatic habit improvements.

On warm summer days the park can be filled with tubers, swimmers, and onlookers. Mild whitewater play is possible at medium levels; front surfing and flatspins.

***A message for tubers, swimmers, recreational users*** Read the signs posted at the whitewater park. This is a river NOT a waterpark. Check the water levels, know your skills, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!!!!

Rapid Descriptions


Class - I Mile - 0.01
Feature 1:
Not much play at any level.

Low level 500cfs >
It’s a fairly deep feature, but very narrow and super flushy. At the higher end of this low range: you might get lucky and pull off a flat spin or a plug/end but it’s very likely you will flush every time. It is surfable on board but it’s a mushy surf. Eddy access from left or right.

Medium level 500-1200cfs
Still eddy access from either side. The feature is still flushy and narrow. The sides start to get burlier as the water starts to flow over the rocks.

High level: 1200cfs +
Even less play and the sides just get more burly and are still rocky and shallow. At super high flows, 8000-10000cfs this feature looks very fluffy and pretty hungry in places. You can still punch through the middle but might get endered in a playboat. We do not know when this feature washes out, so far it just gets bigger with more water.


Class - I Mile - 0.02

Feature 2:

No play at a majority of levels. It’s pretty much flat. At super high flows, 8000-10000cfs, it’s a green wave in the middle with fluffy but rocky/shallow sides. Catch on the fly only at super high flows and the wave changes moment to moment.


Class - I Mile - 0.02

Feature 3:

Little to No play at most levels. This feature is generally flat or a slight bump. You might be able to have an extremely mellow surf in a boat or a sup, but that's it. At super high flows, 8000-10000cfs this forms the bestest, cutest little wave at the park! Catch on the fly from the river right eddy below feature 2. The wave is about 2.5ft tall, 20-25ft wide. It changes periodically from green to foam in different sections across the face. Soul surf and flat spins mostly. Roundhouses, blunts, and airscrews possible! After you flush, make a bee line for the eddy on river right below feature 4. It’s a good spot to get out and walk upstream, across the road and put back in below feature 2 for another ride on 3.


Class - I Mile - 0.04

Feature 4:

No play at a majority of levels. It’s a little bump and you can ferry back and forth from eddy to eddy. Have side surfed it in a weird diagonal angle for a few seconds but that’s about it. At super high flows, 8000-10000cfs, its a fun little beginner surf with eddy access! While the feature itself is beginner friendly, getting there and around the park at super high flows can be very intimidating for newbies, would suggest you have a solid roll and can catch eddies to avoid a long swim. At these high flows on far river right the feature is transformed into a really mellow, foamy wave right against the cement wall where the former dam was located. Eddy access right by the wall. The rest of the feature is washed out at high flows.

High Stakes Wave

Class - II Mile - 0.045

Bonus feature: High Stakes Wave

This is a fun little wave than forms right above feature 5 at about 700-1000cfs. Eddy access river left or right. Its a fun, mellow surf and the occasional flatspin. Its named high stakes because if you flip its very likely you will be going through the next feature upside down.


Class - II Mile - 0.05
Feature 5:
Some play at low/medium flows, washes out at higher flows.

Low level 500cfs >
Very mellow, front surfing. It can be an odd surf because of the features shape. Front surfing for playboats, inflatable/foamie boards (SUP and prone), and boogie boarders.

Medium level 500-1200cfs
The wave becomes a fun but still mellow front surf. Flatspins certainly possible but can be tricky to nail. Once up to 800cfs or so, its deep enough to plug but can be tough to line up. Loops have been done here before, but are few and far between. May be able to do roundhouses/blunts if you got the goods. The eddy lines at this level are a little bit of a rodeo themselves. This level is actually pretty darn fun for boards! SUP or prone works well, can use hardboards as its finally deep enough. Fun for boogie boards too. Best eddy access is from river right. Above 1200 cfs the feature is no longer accessible from either eddy, it is blocked on both sides by guarding curlers that are really tough to impossible to paddle across. Might get lucky and catch on the fly.

High level: 1200cfs +
This feature washes out at higher levels, somewhere around 3-4K cfs


Class - II Mile - 0.06

Feature 6:

No play at a majority of levels. At lower levels you might get a little awkward diagonal surf but that's it. There is a cool rock splat right at the top of the feature at lower levels, that can be fun to spice it up a bit.


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Hannah Ray J
1 year ago

This project has been completed since 2015. The park is open and free to use 24/7 365. Update. The project is underway. Construction of 6 features has started and is ongoing. Completion is anticipated spring/summer 2015. Check out Manchester Whitewater on Facebook for the most accurate updates. You can also contact me, Hannah Ray J, a Manchester native, for more details. I can be reached via Facebook or email

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Robert Szczesniak
3 years ago

The flow was around 270-280 cfs on 8/5/17. Excellent beginner work for moving water, approaches, and eddies. All the eddy lines were strong and squirelly. Requiring attention to position and technique.The eddies were flowing almost as strong as the main current and at time required an effort to get out of. The first three drops are smooth chutes with easy to see tongues with a little splash at the end. There were small spots for front surfing, but not really any room for any kind of moves. The fourth drop required more effort to line up. The conflicting main and eddy currents had to be navigated through some rocks to get lined up. A little bigger splash at the bottom. The fifth and sixth drop each increased slightly in complexity and splash size. These pools were just as strong but smaller. The most efficient walk up would be from bottom to the top of the fourth drop as these are closer and have more play options. Four and five had a large front surf opening with some carving and maneuvering possibilities. The sixth had front and side surf possibilities - you could move around on the river left side without losing the wave. The side surf was a little sticky and if I had more time I might have been able to try some spins. My friends got tubes at the Watershed slightly upstream and enjoyed the day. The crowd was a mix of tubers, kayakers, and swimmers. The kayakers coming out early in the afternoon with most leaving before the crowds increased. Be careful around the tubers as they don't have much control. A group got upset at me when they dropped in on me while I was surfing and I couldn't get out of the way in time for them. There are a good range of options for food and groceries in Manchester (except on Sunday when the grocery store is closed). Nice tent accommodations in nearby Bailey's Ford. Sorry if there is a duplicate post, I had an issue with my browser.

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Andrew Meyer
4 years ago

The flow was about 700 cfs on 6/18 and the first hole was loopable/spinnable/cartwheelable for more advanced boaters. The fifth (I think) feature was a good, fast front sufer that was spinnable too. It was a lot fun.

Gage Descriptions

Gage Description

0-100 Extremley low I ELF (extreme low flows) Features are scrapey, too low for reasonable play.

100-500cfs Low I(II) Some low-level play is possible. Very mellow front surfing for kayaks, high volume shortboards or SUPs. All features are shallow, especially on the lower end

500-1200cfs Medium II Moderate play possible. Mostly front surfing and flatspins. Vertical/wave moves possible but all features are flushy.

1200-5000cfs High II+ Some play possible. Features become catch on the fly, irregular and are still flushy.

5000-20000cfs Extremely High III Nano Dream Wave @ #3! Catch on the fly waves of varying heights and shapes. 12,000cfs is the highest so far that this park as been boated at.

Gauge/flow analysis (based on USGS data for years 2000-2010)
Drainage area at gauge: 275 sq.mi.
Minimum daily mean flow (2002.12.04): 23 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 66 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 663 cfs
Maximum daily mean flow (2010.07.24): 26,600 cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 10 (under 3 is quite steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')

The park was designed for the 98%. Flows were to be optimized at 400cfs. 500 cfs and lower is very mellow play for beginners. Play gets a tad better at medium flows, 500-1200 but is still very mellow. Above 1200 there is still not much play and very limited eddy access. Super high flows, which rarely occur, create some neat, but still mellow, catch on the fly waves.

This river is rain dependent, best time of year for higher flows is generally April-June. Low water is generally during July-September and during winter. Based upon USGS historical data, one should expect flows to exceed that cut-off from March through August (on average), as well as random times in other months.

Directions Description

This is a 'park-and-play', so 'shuttle' will be carrying up on foot. 

Address is 300 W Main St, Manchester, IA 52057

Date Flow Result Factor  
2018-05-22 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Inexperience Read More




Hannah Ray J




Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214290 02/07/20 Hannah Ray J updated description
1199224 02/21/11 Rob n/a
1204694 06/05/15 Rob update for project completion
1213508 08/19/19 Hannah Ray J updated name
1199226 02/21/11 Rob Add link to newspaper story.
1199225 02/21/11 Rob Initial add of this PROPOSED playpark.
1201772 01/19/13 Rob Update link.
1203928 12/16/14 Rob Underway!
1208797 01/27/18 Rob minor edit (gauge info)
1213509 08/19/19 Hannah Ray J updated description
1213596 08/31/19 Hannah Ray J directions to the river
1213593 08/31/19 Hannah Ray J updated stats
1213594 08/31/19 Hannah Ray J updated description
1213595 08/31/19 Hannah Ray J updated description