Podcast script

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Podcasts
Tales of Water Trails: Watonwan River .mp3 (439 Kb)

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Erik Wrede:

Welcome to “Tales of Water Trails” presented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Our guests, Lynne and Bob Diebel, are experienced canoeists and kayakers who have paddled more than 2,400 miles of Minnesota water trails.  They describe these routes for other travelers in their two books Paddling Northern Minnesota and Paddling Southern Minnesota.  

For this series of programs, the Diebels are sharing their insights about Minnesota’s water trails.  Minnesota DNR manages over 4,000 miles of water trails for canoeing and kayaking including the north shore of Lake Superior and dozens of rivers statewide.

Here are Lynne and Bob Diebel to talk about paddling on the Watonwan River.

Lynne Diebel:

The Watonwan - like the wildlife you’ll see in abundance along this river, you’ll be drawn to the green, lush, tree-lined Watonwan.  This river is lined with oaks, walnuts, and cedars.  Wild roses and phlox grow on the banks.  It’s right in the middle of corn country.  It’s a real surprise like many of the prairie rivers are, but it has a lot to offer.  We liked about the 14 ½ miles between County Road 32 and the fair grounds at Garden City.

Bob Diebel:

This is a nice paddle, rather placid for most of its length.  The very end of it goes through some rapids as you enter Garden City and local paddlers like to paddle just that short stretch to get some kind of exciting paddling close to home.


The deadfalls are sometimes a problem, so you want to be able to manage your boat well enough to get around any potential surprises in the deadfall department.  The riffles and class I rapids zip around some bridge abutments as well, so these are things to watch out for.  It’s just a short stretch of rapids, but it adds a spicy note to the end of the trip.


This river could be called a twin to the Cottonwood River, pretty similar characteristics, and some of the drawbacks of a river that goes through corn country is it sometimes can be kind of muddy, but there are times of the year when it runs clearer when there’s not so much runoff from the fields.


Paddlers who enjoy the rapids will want to look for four to five feet on the USGS gauge.  That’s the levels at which the waves are big enough to play on.


So if you take a trip to southwestern Minnesota this is a river worth considering.  Good paddling.


Glad you joined us.


For more information on Minnesota’s water trails including free maps, river level reports, and trip planning resources visit www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.