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Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 7 Miles
Gauge Walnut Creek at Des Moines, IA
Flow Range 120 - 750 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 46 minutes ago 291 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/01/2009 3:02 pm

River Description


This creek only flows after local rain, and can rise and fall fairly quickly. The water is primarily street run-off and can be pretty dirty unless it has been raining for a couple days. The run is class I-II except that you need to be prepared to deal with the likelihood of severe strainers. There are often downed trees that can completely block the creek and require you to portage, though sometimes experienced boaters can slip under or over them.

There are several small drops and waves which form at different locations along the run depending on water level. The best drop is near the top of the run, behind the City of Clive's baseball field as you pass under a bike trail bridge. As you approach the Walmart section in Windsor Heights, there is a series of three small drops that are great fun, but hide some old bridge pilings at higher flows so be prepared.

The last good take-out opportunity is below a small drop at 63rd & Grand, where parking is available. There is a wave that forms here at medium-to-high flows.

If you proceed beyond this point, you are probably doomed to float into the Raccoon River and take out in Waterworks Park. You can continue down the Raccoon River if you like, but it is a wide and typically slow float. Also, there is a low-head dam as you pass under the Martin Luther King bridge that can cause trouble if you aren't ready for it. Best to portage unless the water level is high enough that it is completely submerged, at which point it doesn't appear to pose a problem. Still, better to be safe.

Rapid Descriptions

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Summary of Gauge Readings

Gauge is located under the 63rd Street bridge near Grand Avenue.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
Walnut Creek at Des Moines, IA
AW Gauge Info
291 cfs ℹ️ 00h46m Gauge (78.4 sq.mi. drainage) is on reach, so accurately reflects flow at that point. Put-in is on small trib, so expect much less flow until confluence.
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Directions Description


There are multiple opportunities for put-ins and take-outs along the run depending on the length of run you want. A bike path runs along most of the run with many public parking areas.

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Matt Muir

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