West Nishnabotna River Water Trail

What to Expect

As Nate Hoogeveen describes in Paddling Iowa, "Expect no dramatic bluffs or fast water on the West Nishnabotna - it is a very lazily meandering, tree-lined prairie stream, typically brown as cocoa for much of the season, with a sandy and occasionally muddy bottom." Pack a lunch and make it a day trip. Sandbars make good picnic stops, and for the treasure seeker, the Nishnabotna is always uncovering little bits of the past. Bones, fossils, rocks, and teeth, give a person a small look at the history of animals that once did and currently do, inhabit the area.

Read our blog for more information on what to expect while visiting the West Nishnabotna Water Trail.

Entry Points Contact Information

Memorial Park, City of Avoca

  • Avoca, IA 51521
  • (712) 343-2424

Botna Bend Park

  • 42926 Mahogany Road, Hancock, IA 51536
  • (712) 741-5465

Chautauqua City Park, City of Oakland

  • 101 North Main Street, Oakland, IA 51560
  • (712) 482-6811

Millstone City Park, City of Carson

  • 316 S. Commercial Street, Carson, IA 51525
  • (712) 484-3636

Old Town Park (Contact Botna Bend Park)

  • 12515 385th Street, Macedonia, IA 51549
  • (712) 741-5465

For questions or more information, contact the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board at (712) 328-5638.


Rubber Duck Outfitters

Fish and Wildlife

If relaxation and wildlife viewing is what you are after, pack your binoculars and field guides and try to count the number of species you see. The river is lined in several spots with wooded areas, which provide excellent habitat. Possible sightings include: songbirds, white tail deer, beaver, turtles, coyotes, shorebirds, spiders, and insects such as mosquitoes and flies, so don't forget the insect repellent. It's not uncommon to follow a great blue heron, or a horned owl down the river. Bring your fishing poles. The Nishnabotna River is always changing, so good fishing holes pop up everywhere. Fish from the canoe, the sandbar, or the bank-you're sure to catch something. Fish species include: flathead catfish, carp, gar, and once in a while, a walleye.

Safety on the River

Although the Nishnabotna is generally a safe and easy river to navigate, there are some things you need to know:

  • Always use your life jacket! Accidents happen, even in shallow water. Remember, it doesn't work if you don't wear it!
  • Other safety apparel includes: footwear to guard against walking on sharp rocks and other objects; clothing that will protect against rain, sun or cold weather; sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Pack a first aid case - just in case.
  • Following periods of heavy rain or snowmelt, the Nishnabotna becomes challenging. Do not attempt to canoe the river when it is quickly rising, or is at or near flood stage.
  • While navigating the river in a canoe, watch for rocks and logs just below the surface. Look for a "V" -shaped current that marks the best water flow between objects.
  • Pay attention to the riverbank. Most stretches of river have a "cutbank" side where the current is eroding the riverbank and "deposition" side where sand and silt are being deposited. You may want to keep to
    the cutbank side where there is less of a chance of getting stuck on the sand or mud. (Caution: entrance and exit points may be muddy.) However, if the current is moving quickly into a fallen tree, logjam or rock pile, it's best to walk or carry canoe safely along the shallows or sandbars.
  • If you happen to tip a canoe and become swamped, stay on the upstream side of the canoe and walk it to shore or calm shallows before getting back in. Never position yourself in the water between a canoe and a dowstream obstacle. A canoe can exert a lot of force as it is swept into an object.
  • We recommend taking a cell phone in a waterproof bag. In case of emergency, call 911.

West Nishnabotna River Water Trail Pottawattamie County, Iowa

Made possible through the efforts of the following agencies and organizations: 

Botna Bend Park

42926 Mahogany Road
Hancock, IA 51536
(712) 741-5465

Old Town Park

12515 385th St
Macedonia, IA 51549
(712) 741-5465

Rubber Duck Outfitters (Seasonal)

42926 Mahogany Road
Hancock, IA 51536
(402) 201-6776

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