Odessa Water Trail

East of Wapello

Explore the Odessa Wildlife Complex from a canoe or kayak to discover its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife.


The Odessa Water Trail will take you through this 6,400 acre wetland complex of large shallow lakes, isolated ponds, timbered chutes, marsh and forest. Full of twists and turns you never know what might be around the next bend.

It is no surprise that wildlife abounds at Odessa. The north half is part of Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and the rest is under management of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The entire area is managed for migratory birds. Changing water levels are a key to providing food and cover for birds stopping to refuel. It also means different paddling experiences through the year.

It is important to check water levels and accessibility before you come to paddle. The Refuge is closed to all access from September 15 – December 31 each year for migrating birds. The rest of the year the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.

Download Odessa Water Trail Map

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