Missouri River Canoeing

I’m interested in following up on an old topic from 4 years ago. How many of you have canoed solo on the Missouri River? Did you paddled a solo canoe or use a tandem? How long did you stay out on the river and what were some of the best tips you had and did you learn more you can share here?

I know there has been more activity on the MO river with the MR340 race these past two summers. I don’t think I saw any solo canoes that weren’t long distance river racing canoes though.

Just looking for tips, stories, canoes used, etc. as I prepare for some Missouri River adventures of my own.


Maybe you missed this site the other day. Doesn’t really answwer your question, but you need to take a look. http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=chat&tid=720700

Well, near St. Louis I don’t see anything special about the Missouri. It’s just a big flat river. The current moves along pretty well when the level is up. Watch out for the wing dams and the occasional barge. If you want some insight from the MR340 racing participants you could check here…


Search the archives…

– Last Updated: Aug-27-07 8:11 PM EST –

Search the archives; there have been quite a few threads in the past related to the Missouri river. They will probably provide you with some of the information you're seeking.

I have done 2 sections of the Missouri river; from Glasgow Missouri to Jefferson City Missouri, and from Jefferson City, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri. Did both sections in a tandem canoe(it was all I had), but there are a lot of solo canoes available that would be ideal for a Missouri river trip.

A few good things about the trips I took:

You will not have to deal with hordes of drunken "river dorks" in rental canoes.
You will seldom if ever have to worry about finding a place to camp.
There are lots of places to stop & resupply food/water if necessary.
You seldom have to work very hard to keep moving.

A few things I would advise:

Stay away from bridge pilings, wing dikes, channel markers, and barges.
Do not turn over a heavily loaded canoe in a very wide channel of the Missouri river. If you do; you will probably get to shore about 1/4 to 1/2 mile downstream of where you capsized. You may, or may not have your canoe with you when you get to shore. If your gear is not tied into the canoe when you capsize, good luck on ever retreiving it.

In some places, the river has some strong & confused currents(possibly due to dredging). We encountered a couple of whirlpools large enough to spin our canoe 360 degrees. We also encountered a couple of "large" logs that popped up several feet above the surface of the water unexpectedly, and then quickly disappeared. I am referrring to telephone pole sized logs.


mo river
I love the Missouri River! So much history behind it all and so much politics too.

Paddled it solo in 2004 retracing the westward journey of Lewis and Clark all the way to the Pacific.

The Missouri part took 17-weeks to reach Three Forks Montana. I also paddled last year to close the L&C bicentennial from Chamois to the Arch. I joined up with about 70 other paddlers - some paddled from Livingston Montana in 900lb dugout canoes- joined by the 5th greatgrandson of William Clark himself. It was a major historical paddling event as well, since to anyones knowledge it was the first time a dugout came from Livingston Montana to the Arch since L&C in 1806. Where were the rest of you MO. River paddlers?

The best guide book is by David Miller (No relation) You can get it on Amazon. its over 300 pages, tons of photos and more information than a person can dig up him/herself. Its called “The complete Paddler”- A paddling guide from Three Forks to St. Louis"

The new Mo River Trails website that the other poster is good. It will grow. The Mr300 race is good to spread the word too.

I paddled a Sea Wind solo expedtion canoe built by Verlen Kruger. To me it far outweighs any other canoe or kayak for expedition paddling…hands down! Ive owned many other boats and they dont compare.

Yeah the wing dikes are nasty. They are best paddle in flood stage when more are covered…thats if your going upstream. As far as downstream…lower the better to see them. Also the lower water allows for good campsites. I saw so much wildlife in and around the St. Louis area my first couple nights out…coyotes calling all night, turkeys, great blue herons, many other water birds, deer too. Its amazing at night because so many people dont use the river…you have it all to yourself… good camps, nice evening light.

The barges are not too big of a problem unless you get run over by one. I only saw about 10 barges between St. Louis and Sioux City Iowa…they are loud enough…so unless you are deaf, then dont worry.


Barges …

– Last Updated: Aug-28-07 2:55 PM EST –

I look forward to reading your trip report after you complete you Missouri river trip. Will be interested in hearing how your Wenonah Vagabond
served you out there too.

Good luck,


There were a number of Kruger’s in the MR340 this year and they were spoken of highly…of course at the price point they command they surely should be. I really should update my experience level as I have paddled frequently this year in different waters, conditions and weather, but I do not considered myself a beginner, I’m more of a advanced beginner I guess.

At this point my Vagabond is my canoe of choice, mainly because it’s my only canoe. I do have my eye open for used canoes that would compliment it. I really enjoy the Vagabond for it’s reliability in wind and the waters I’ve paddled.

I will check out your link to see what your MO river adventure was like. Mine will be shorter and more predictable (hopefully) but hopefully quite enjoyable too.

Do you do much paddling on rivers you’re familiar with when the full moon is out on a cloudless night? This is a question that showcases my experience I know, but it is a question that begs to be asked.


I would suggest making splash
covers. They work great to keep your gear in your canoe during a spill. My experience with them was that your canoe will turtle in a spill but ride high in the water making it easier to get the canoe to shore. You shouldn’t lose anything under them and you don’t need to tie everything in - just make sure the cover is secure. Also what helps is to leave some air in your dry bags so that they act as extra flotation. I paddled the Missouri up in Montana from Ft. Benton to Kipps Landing and had a great time.