Unveiling the Hidden Wonders: Iowa's Premier Wildlife Viewing from a Paddle Board.

Key Highlights

  1. Diverse Ecosystems: Experience a range of ecosystems, from clear waters and lush vegetation at Lake Okoboji to the dense foliage of Yellow River State Forest.

  2. Abundant Wildlife: Each location offers unique wildlife encounters, including blue herons, white-tailed deer, ospreys, and more.

  3. Seasonal Beauty: Discover the best times to visit for optimal wildlife viewing, highlighting the migratory patterns of birds and active periods for other species.

  4. Accessible Adventures: Emphasize the accessibility of these experiences for paddle boarders of all skill levels, promoting the sport as a way to connect with nature.

  5. Conservation Awareness: Highlight the importance of respecting natural habitats and contributing to conservation efforts while enjoying Iowa's natural beauty.

man on paddle board

1. Lake Okobojiz.

Crystal clear waters surrounded by lush vegetation, Lake Okoboji is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Glide across the tranquil waters to witness graceful blue herons wading through the shallows and elusive turtles basking in the sun along the shoreline.

2. Yellow River State Forest.

Paddle through the meandering channels of the Yellow River, enveloped by the dense foliage of the state forest. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer as they pause to take a drink from the river's edge, and marvel at the aerial acrobatics of the majestic bald eagles that call this region home.

3. Lake Red Rock.

In the heart of the Iowa prairie, Lake Red Rock stands as a shimmering oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. As you paddle along its shores, be enchanted by the playful antics of muskrats diving in and out of the water, while ospreys soar overhead, scanning the lake's surface for their next meal.

4. Brushy Creek Lake.

Set your paddle board adrift on Brushy Creek Lake, known for its thriving population of white-tailed deer that frequently emerge from the surrounding woodlands. The lake's edges come alive with the songs of red-winged blackbirds and the stealthy movements of raccoons on the hunt.

5. Rathbun Lake.

Amidst the splendor of Rathbun Lake, be captivated by the vibrant colors of migratory songbirds fluttering among the trees. Watch as great blue herons patrol the water's edge, stalking their finned prey beneath the surface.

6. Ledges State Park.

Paddle along the Des Moines River that winds through Ledges State Park, a haven for those seeking to spot agile river otters darting through the water. The sky above is alive with the distinctive calls of red-tailed hawks and the occasional glimpse of a soaring turkey vulture.

7. Lake Macbride.

As you navigate Lake Macbride's serene waters, keep your eyes peeled for the charismatic American beaver, busy constructing their lodges along the shore. Overhead, watch for the migratory spectacle of Canada geese and sandhill cranes.

8. Pikes Peak State Park.

Drift along the Mississippi River at Pikes Peak State Park, a prime location for spotting majestic bald eagles perched in lofty trees overlooking the water. Marvel at the spectacle of these raptors as they swoop down to catch fish from the river's surface.

9. Lake Wapello State Park.

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Lake Wapello, where the gentle lapping of water against the shore provides the backdrop for birdwatching at its finest. Scan the sky for the vibrant blue flash of indigo buntings and the striking markings of wood ducks.

10. Volga River State Recreation Area.

Embark on a journey through the Volga River's winding waters, where you might encounter the elusive mink darting along the shoreline. Above, witness the dance of tree swallows as they catch insects mid-flight, and listen to the melodic calls of warblers in the trees.

11. Lake Darling State Park.

Traverse Lake Darling's peaceful waters to witness the playful antics of raccoons and squirrels along the shore. Look to the skies for the graceful silhouette of a great egret as it glides in search of its next meal.

12. George Wyth State Park.

At George Wyth State Park, paddle through the idyllic waters of George Wyth Lake, where you may spot the vibrant orange hues of a painted turtle sunbathing on a fallen log. Listen to the sweet melodies of songbirds as they flit among the trees.

13. Coralville Reservoir.

Explore the shores of Coralville Reservoir to witness the remarkable underwater world through its clear waters. Keep a lookout for channel catfish and bass swimming beneath your board, while American coots paddle gracefully nearby.

14. Stephens State Forest.

Navigate the tranquil waterways within Stephens State Forest and be on the lookout for the dappled fur of river otters breaking the surface. Above, listen for the distinctive calls of barred owls that become more pronounced as dusk settles in.

15. Honey Creek Resort State Park.

Discover the hidden wonders of Honey Creek Resort State Park as you paddle along the shores of Rathbun Lake. Witness the graceful flight of great blue herons and the colorful plumage of Eastern bluebirds flitting among the trees.

16. Saylorville Lake.

Embark on a paddle boarding expedition across Saylorville Lake, where you might encounter the gentle gliding of a family of trumpeter swans. Gaze in awe as ospreys dive into the water to snatch a fish from below the surface.

17. Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.

Drift through the scenic waters of the Des Moines River within Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, a haven for river otters and great blue herons. Marvel at the dynamic interplay of light and shadow as you paddle beneath the canopy of trees.

18. Volga Lake State Recreation Area.

Navigate the peaceful waters of Volga Lake, where you might spot the distinctive markings of a black-crowned night heron as it stealthily hunts along the shoreline. Listen to the symphony of frogs and crickets that serenade the night.

19. Hickory Grove Park.

Paddle along the edges of Hickory Grove Lake, where white-tailed deer frequently make appearances by the water's edge. Cast your gaze upward to catch sight of red-tailed hawks soaring high above the treetops.


man on touring paddle board

From the tranquil shores of Lake Okoboji to the winding channels of the Yellow River, Iowa's wildlife awaits your discovery. Embark on a paddle boarding journey that immerses you in the beauty of the natural world, where each paddle stroke unveils a new chapter in the stories of the creatures that call these watery havens home. We hope you enjoyed this tour of the best places to view wildlife from a sup in Iowa/

Tips, Tricks, and Fun Articles await.

Here are a few quick links to help you keep going, don't forget to check our blog out for more tips and expert advice. For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards.

Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you! And check out the Glide O2 Angler and why it makes an incredible platform for birding and wildlife viewing.