Missouri River

First time poster.

Has anyone done a trip on the Lower Missouri River? We’re floating from Kansas City to St. Louis in June. Seems like a pretty lazy float, just wondered if anyone here had done it.

I’m fairly decided on a new Penobscot 17 for the vehicle. I doubt my Camper could take it.

Any advice?

Missouri river…

– Last Updated: Jan-23-04 12:19 PM EST –

A few years ago, I did the section from Glasgow, Mo. to Jefferson City, Mo. Don't remember the mileage, but would venture a guess of 100 miles. You are talking about a trip in excess of 200 miles I believe.
In many sections of the river the current will keep you moving along in excess of 5 mph, with little to no paddling necessary. In some sections I have little doubt it will move you even faster. It is easy to kick back & relax; maybe too easy.
We usually camped on sand bars which was fine as long as the wind wasn't blowing. Test the firmness of the places you are about to step onto when you stop; looks can be deceiving. Virtually all of the property along the river is private property. That is one reason why we used the sand bars; to avoid possible hassles with land owners. We did get a visit by one land owner who saw our fire from his house & came down on his 4 wheeler with a 30-30 strapped it. Wanted to make sure we stayed off "his property"!
Fairly easy to pull over & walk up to some of the towns near the river for resupply of food, water & ice; good examples are Boonville & Rocheport. We usually left someone with the boat to "keep an eye" on our gear.
Saw no other canoers or kayakers; did see several people in jon boats fishing & quite a few people on the river bank fishing. All of which told us they thought we were crazy for "messing with that river"!
The channels are fairly well marked for the barges. As far as I'm concerned barges are one of the river's hazards. We gave them a wide berth; some of them will create waves up to 5 foot high.
No problem in some boats, but with nearly 400 pounds of paddlers, plus gear, in a 17 foot canoe, we thought common sense would save us possible hassles. I would not want to swim a heavily loaded, capsized canoe to shore from the middle of the Missouri river main channel. You will probably be a good distance down stream of where you capsize before you finally get it to shore. In some places I might have swam for shore & said to hell with the boat & the gear.
Something that occured on occasions were giant boils (up to 20 feet in diameter). Hard to paddle out of the swirling currents, and highly aerated water that they created.Would not want to swim in one of them!

Keep your eye out for the wing dikes that are used to direct water towards the main channel, and give them a wide berth. If you blunder up on one(while relaxing) in a loaded canoe, you may high center.This is not a good place to step out of your canoe & attempt to push off, because of the possiblity of foot entrapment.
Occasionally, a log that was being held underwater by the current? would just "pop up" unexpectedly. I'm not talking about sticks; some of those we saw were probably 15 inches in diameter & up to 20 feet long. Luckily, none were under or close to our canoe when they make their appearance.
We also saw a couple of channel marking buoys(4 to 5 foot tall) that would completely submerge for a few seconds, and then suddenly pop back up.
It was a very interesting trip, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I'd don't think I'd do it again; but if I did, I'd wear a much better pfd! I'd take lots of water, a wide brim hat, and lots of sunscreen.
Let me know if you have any other questions I might be able to help you with.

GO for it!


Thanks, Bob. I appreciate it.

It’s about 370 miles, actually. I’m counting on 60-70 miles a day, maybe less as we tire.

These days, barge traffic is almost non-existent (can’t convice my wife, though). There’s actually a big push to get the Corps to quit dredging it altogether, the economic benefit is so minimal.

For the Lewis and Clark’ers, there’s a lot of campgrounds being opened up, but we’ll watch the private property.

bob- thanks for the comments too. I will be paddling it upstream starting in march. im doing the entire river and more and you can read more about it at http://www.lewisandclark-2004.com

take care and maybe i will see you.


We do Hermann to New Haven yearly
I’ve done Hermann to St Charles (74 mi overniter) once. The only barges passed at night make sure your boat is high dry and tied.

Our club pres did Billings MT to St Charles solo just after he turned 70, I can pass specific questions if needed. His first advice is take Bounty paper towels to pre filter water or it will plug a filter instantly.

Corps of Engineers KC office 700 Federal Bldg. K.C. MO 64106-2896 has river charts and a CD map of steamboat wrecks on the river thats interesting.

You need to take out at St Charles or hang a right at the Mississippi, get through the Chain of Rocks (which can be very hazardous Missouri Whitewater website may have info) to take out in St Louis (good access in front of the Arch).

Email if you have other questions.

Good Luck


Saw Your post about the “Chain of

rock” can you be more specific to its location? I will be starting at the Lewis and Clark st. park across the mississipi/missouri mouth near wood river etc and paddling up the missouri. curious to what you were talking about.



Chain of Rocks is on the Mississippi
Just below I-270 4 mi below where the two rivers meet. I think putting in at the park you will be above it.

You’ve got your work cut out for you paddling upstream, when Lewis and Clark did it the river flowed at 1/3 the speed it does now and they didn’t have to dodge wing dams.

Good Luck


Chain of rocks…
Could be wrong, but if memory serves me well, several people have drowned at the Chain of rocks, and several more have had near death experiences there. Would definitely portage, or reroute around that spot.


Yes I will be above it. Yes i certainly dont expect an easy trip thats not why I am going however. Although L&C did have a load much bigger and heavier than mine. They were pulling, dragging and pushing 15 tons of equipment where I will be doing about 200 lbs. Yes the wing dams will be a pain but they do divert the “speed” of the water in a sense as well. Ive been told there is a lot of slack water along the edges where the wings are. Either way hope you follow along at http://www.lewisandclark-2004.com

thanks again


another possible source
Carley, a young lady who works for Rutabaga, paddled the Mississippi solo (with her cat). Different river, but similar situation. Barges and wing dams were items of concern. Sometimes she stayed with people she met along the way and sometimes she camped. I followed some of her posts on the Rutabaga site when she was on the river and then we met her. She’s a nice gal and was happy to talk about the trip and show us pictures.