DES MOINES, Iowa — Three total whitewater access points are planned to be located in downtown Des Moines and open to the public in 2026.
ICON Water Trails is in charge of these three and 12 other recreational sites around central Iowa. ICON is connecting 150 miles of rivers and creeks in the state, making 80 plus improvements to the waterways.
“So starting at Scott Avenue is really significant as what ICON is trying to do as a whole, is just connecting our region,” said Monica Converse, a project manager with ICON Water Trails. “Beginning at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers is just really kind of symbolic of what we’re trying to achieve with the whole project.”
The work on the Scott Avenue location began last spring, but after a summer of gathering the necessary materials construction work is in full swing now in October. The existing dam will be improved, along with improvements to the fishing habitats, creation of pedestrian walkways and in-water recreational activities like surfing.
“It’s actually a place you can come surfing. There’s a feature in the water called a wave shaper that’s going to create that wave for people to experience,” said Converse. “We don’t have mountains or oceans here in central Iowa, but you might be able to surf soon.”
The focus on all the ICON projects are new commitments to water safety and conservation of these natural resources.
The three projects in downtown Des Moines will cost a total of $114 million, with Scott Avenue coming in around $45 million. Funding has come in the form of grants from the federal government and different public and private entities.
To see visual representations and more details about other projects around the state, visit ICON Water Trails’ website.