Raccoon, Iowa, US
B) Commerce Ledges (Walnut Woods SP), near Des Moines (PnP)
||I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Raccoon River at 63rd Street at Des Moines, IA
900 - 4500 cfs
Too low, slow and shallow for reasonable whitewater? (We need your input to more fully characterize what happens at different flows. Add a comment or report!) Gauge (3529 sq.mi. drainage) is just over 4 miles downstream, so should quite accurately portray flows here.
Commerce ledges (a series of three ledges, named after the small community on the north bank)
provides surfing possibilities near Des Moines.
The DNR did some work along the access to provide more adequate parking and a trail that leads to
two easy put-ins. Large stone steps lead down to the water for easy access to all of the
features. The improvements make it much easier to take advantage of the play without having to
deal with the muddy banks that were previously a big deterant for boaters.
James Weeks contributes (2006-07-20)
The eddyline, river left, below the main wave is very strong and provides a great opportunity
to peel-out, stern squirt, or surf the more consistent waves at around 1500 to 4000 cfs. Much
lower and the real honey is at the top ledge. There is also a recirculating current along the
river left bordering the wave train that will take you nearly all the way back to the top if you
catch it before getting too far downstream.
From the furthest upriver put-in, you can paddle out to a large boulder, which should be clearly
visible in the center of the river. The rock creates a 9ft. wide eddy about 20ft long. A weak
eddy on surfer's left of the rock will carry you to the ledge. Nice defined zig-zag wave on
2/3rds of the river at a level of 900 to 1500 cfs. Lots of play here before floating down into
I haven't explored the 3rd ledge much. Very shallow there, though surfable above 2000 cfs.
Thursday nights in the summer, some locals gather to paddle from 6pm to 9pm (dark).
Thanks, James, for that contribution!
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Last Updated: 2009-06-01 15:56:58