Mississippi River adventure

I’m planning to canoe the Mississippi river solo in a canoe. I’m 62YO and in good physical condition. I plan to do the entire river, from Lake Itasca to Lousiana. the canoe that I’m looking at is Dirigo 140

by Old Town Canoe Co. I’d like to hear comments and advice.

I am 62 and plan on doin’ the entire Mississippi in a kayak in June.

me too

– Last Updated: Feb-04-09 7:53 AM EST –

I'm 62 and I plan to do part of the upper Mississippi this summer too, by kayak. I don't have the time nor the desire to do the whole thing, but I sure think you got a good summer planned. Good luck.

Maybe we could share information . . .
. . . I have been reading and collection quite a bit of info. Have your got the maps from DNR yet?

I’d suggest using a sprayskirt, and
that you have secure flotation in both ends of the boat so that it floats in a manageable fashion if you get swamped. Check well in advance to see that you can get all your gear either behind the aft bulkhead or up in the bow ahead of your feet. A shakedown river camping trip is strongly adviseable.

Mississippi trip
Get a copy of All things are Possible the Verlen Kruger Story by Phil Peterson Sr. He writes about Krugers trips on the Mississippi and the many other trips he made.

Kruger set records going both directions on the Mississippi and was 78 the last time he raced the entire Mississippi.

And watch out on some of the lakes formed by the dams; the Winni, Pepin and others can turn into big water on a windy day


There’s a wealth of
downloadable info at the Army Corps of Engineers website, including locks and dams, river charts, phone numbers etc. It also list numbers to call for more info.

I have done some paddling on the Mississippi, but nothing like you’re doing. I do know that when you talk to non paddlers, they think you are crazy are warn that barge wake will toss you out of the bat and you become cat fish food. My experience says be careful, stay out of the way, and the problem is not much different than dealing with some speed boats. Also check out the locking proceedure. You may want to take some portage wheels and portage when you can to save time.

Since I only go on the river a few days at a time, my needs are simpler.

I am interested in what you learn. Keep in touch if you can.I think my email address is on this site.


Where are you located?

I’m in South Texas
I have done quite a bit of reading and been to Lake Itasca. I have also read some online accounts and a book about another trip (Bluffs to Bayous).

About a dozen portages (at least) above Minneapolis. About 30 locks between Minneapolis and Cairo. A couple of lakes that could be problems with wind, Lake Bemidji, Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish.

I am planning on getting started first week in June and take about 60 days.

maybe a sea kayak would be better
The Dirigo 140 is a kayak, not a canoe. Never been in a kayak myself, but If I were gona do a long trip in a kayak, I’d try and pick something a bit more efficient.

“Great for the casual paddler out for a little relaxation, fitness and fun.” Hmmm - that could describe an end to end trip down the ol mis I guess.

But I’d thing a sea kayak, designed for longer term touring would be faster, more efficient, and would haul more gear. But maybe you don’t need much gear ?

How 'bout a thread . . .
. . . in Wilderness Tripping were we can swap information.

Re. The Mighty Mississippi
Great to hear you’re taking the plunge. I went down The River last summer solo in an Old Towne. Great Canoes. Took a beating, but stayed afloat. Was quite a trip. I left Itasca July 10th & ended up in New Orleans Oct. 3rd. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. Congrats on the decision.

Mississippi Adventure
The first couple of days out from Itasca can be tricky, depending on the time of year. It can be difficult to find your way through the marshes. The river from Grand Rapids to Brainerd is very scenic but much of the area has very muddy banks making it hard to go ashore. Don’t rely completely on DNR river access campsites. Some are in different locations than indicated on the map and some have had the access washed away in the spring floods. If you contact the county Sheriff, they usually have someone patrolling the river and can probably give you current advice on camping locations. There are bears and raccoons in northern MN that would make securing your food in a suspended food pack at night or ustilizing a bear barrel advisable. The Blanchard Dam south of Little Falls forms a seven mile long lake that can be a challenge if the wind is from the south. With a 15 mph headwind I made 1.5 mph progress in a 17 foot sea kayak. Some of the portages may be a bit of a challenge, so portage wheels may come in handy. The locks in the Twin Cities are easy and the people friendly. Watch out for recreational boat traffic, especially on the weekends. They are more of challenge than barges. If you keep your distance from barges, they just make a bunch of medium sized waves. Big speed boats make wakes that can swamp you. A spray skirt is very handy, but with the 48" cockpit of the Dirigo, a big wake crashing over the bow could pop the skirt. The Dirigo does not have as much storage as a longer sea kayak so you will have to be efficient in your packing.

Have a good trip.



Quapaw Canoe Company. My friend John Ruskey owns it, its on the lower Mississippi. John has extensive paddling the Miss including the whole which he did in a huck finn raft. Hes been recently featured in Ourside and National Geo Adventurer mag about paddling the miss. Once you reach him, contact his friend via the links to Mike CLark in St. Louis, he guides the mississpi that area and knows first hand a lot of info including the chain of rocks which you will want to avoid.

if you need help

emial me


Upper Miss.
I live near Bemidji and there can be a lot of trees across the river before Lake Bemidji it could be tough in a kayak.

kayaking the miss
Im happy to see other people out there that like the idea of paddling the miss. im currently in iraq right now and in the service but im almost done and this is a trip that i have been planning for awhile now and am gearing up and getting info as the days count down. Ive herd that paddling rivers sometimes need a permit…ive never had one but was wanting to know if this is something i will need…also if anyone with a lot of exp. can maybe shoot me an email of a list of gear and good info i.e maps that are a must have…good luck to everyone else

Good luck and take your time
There is a free portage service you will read about at the Pokegama Dam, take advantage of it. Blanchard Dam is the worst portage. Beware of the turbulance when entering a lock right after a barge has left. The stub tailed cabin cruisers throw the worst waves. Below Cairo and especially below thw Arkansas River, the river and the barges are huge. Give yourself a wide berth when crossing after an upward bound barge passes. Stay just outside of the bouys to take advantage of the fastest water and stay on the inside of the bends. Take time to enjoy and meet the people along the way. That is the best part of the trip. When it comes up, and it will, be sure to let folks along the way know what you are doing. They will help you any way they can. I did Lake Itasca back to my hometown of Cape Girardeau, Mo in 41 days in my 17ft WS Tempest kayak. Have been doing a week each fall since. Plan to finish from Vicksberg to mile zero this fall. Contact me when you come thru Cape Giardeau and give me a chance to repay some of the kindness I was shown on my trip. You can get my e-mail from this site.

A useful website

no permit
No permit required on the Mississippi.

Here’s most of the maps you’ll need. They’re all online and free so you can start day-dreaming over them now. Good luck on your trip.






Some more links
Here are a couple links the first is a Canadian father/daughter who did the trip a few years ago. Some of our members did a supply drop for them and hosted an overnight rest stop and sightseeing.


The second is for a water trail we’ve been working on from Saverton, MO to Winfield, MO we hope to reach Alton, IL this year and St Louis next year.


Good luck! contact me if I can help


I’m proud of all of you. That is quite a
trip.good paddling!