Paddling an Entire River

Hello all,

I have never kayaked before but as apart of my life goal list, I want to kayak an entire river. I don’t know anything about which rivers this is possible. I obviously don’t want anything to extreme being as that I’m new to kayaking. I would like something that is relatively flat but with a few rapids. I don’t really care where in the US although I’m from around the Dallas, TX area. And I don’t really care about the length as long as it is an entire river. I’d be looking at doing sometime from the months of July - Nov. of 2010 but I want to start getting ready for it so any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks a lot. I look forward to the world of Kayaking!

I getting ready . . .
. . . to kayak the entire Mississippi. Come on! I’m down in Kingsville and will leave in June.

IN texas
In texas: The Rio Grande, Brazos

Other rivers: Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Columbia, Jefferson, Platte,Red, Savananah

start with that

Do it Cowboy

– Last Updated: Nov-25-08 12:27 PM EST –

Look around and pick one. I'm in Georgia and I have paddled several entire rivers and river systems where one river leads to another and another until it is in a gulf or ocean. Now what you call and what I call an entire river may be 2 different things. I find the spring, hike along the banks till a kayak will float and that's where the paddling begins. Now don't think you'll just keep paddlin' because the river (which is barely a creek) may split or widen out which means the water is low so you drag or carry it. Then there will be places where trees (called Deadfalls) have fallen into the river and blocked your passage. Here you'll have to get over, around or under it and sometimes this may take some ingenuity, strength and always patience.

My trips have been 26, 30, 25, 7, 15, and 49 days long. Currently I am planning a 14-16 day trip on the Cahaba River in Alabama and because I have already paddled the entire Alabama River I will paddle the Cahaba from its source in the mountains to where it joins the Alabama River in Cahaba, Alabama which is just SW ofSelma.

What you are attempting is very rewarding but it can be challenging. My first trip was 26 days long and planned in 4 days. Now I do the trips to get the public involved because of my love from the first trip for rivers. This up coming trip in June will take 5-6 months to plan as my ideals have changed.

You can also read the entire blog of the 49 day trip if you'll go to and click on the BLOG, scroll to the bottom and click on previous posts. Do this on each page and it will take you to the beginning of the journey.

If I can be of any help contact me by e-mail at

Good luck, be careful and enjoy your trip which I hope becomes a journey.

Paddlin' on

Suwannee River
We did it and it was fantastic. Do it in the winter - January thru March timeframe. Excellent. Rapids may not really be rapids except for Big Shoals and you won’t want to run them unless river is high. Otherwise just a few fast spots on northern part with maybe class 1 rapids for a very short distance.

Check out trip report:

Trip report tells how to get all the info you need.

It could be a 1-week to 3-week trip depending on how fast you want to go. Around 230 river miles.

Have fun, pick a river, and Just Do It!

If you check the “Places to Paddle” section, you’ll find an account from someone who floated the whole length of the Llano. Actually, you could start a little further upstream at the 2nd crossing of the South Llano south of Junction. That would be a pretty fantastic float, and relatively manageable. Rio Grande is way beyond the abilities of a beginner, but if you want to read a great account by someone who canoed the entire length within the state of Texas, check out the Tecate Journals by Keith Bowden. One of the best reads I’ve come across in years. The Neches would also be a possibility, there is also a book written on that one called “Paddling the Wild Neches”, not the most well written of accounts, but interesting nonetheless. And of course, there’s always the Brazos… Check out for some good river info.

Do Your Own Research
With this link.

First…good luck and enjoy
Enjoy all the parts of planning and figuring where. Thats half the fun.

I haven’t done any research,but I like paddling rivers that are close to me. What about the Red River to the Mississippi? It would be interesting to learn about the history and paddle it. Start getting your google earth fired up and looking for maps. Again, have fun and good luck

Entire River
I have a few questions …

I’m worried about rivers that have dams. Are there ways through dams? Do you get out and carry your kayak? That’s the reason I don’t know which river to pick. Most major rivers have dams, do they not?

Also, I’m probably going with a partner in a tandem kayak. (If that makes any difference)

I saw that the Buffalo river in Arkansas doesn’t have a dam. Would this be a good river? A little shorter than what I was planning on but, do you have an opinion?

Several questions need to be answered

– Last Updated: Dec-01-08 6:03 AM EST –

How long do you want to be gone?

I would like to know your age and it does matter for several reasons.

1. There are expenses that you are unaware of; equipment, clothing, food and someone to pick you up.

An expensive hidden cost is in the planning and how well you want to plan. Example: My first trip was 26 days and was planned in 4 days and cost about $100.00 in maps and gas, equipment $60.00, food including on the trip $300.00.

My last trip was 851 miles in 49 days, planning was very detailed day by day and lasted 5 1/2 months. Total cost was around $10,000 which is quite staggering.

What I do is choose the river and then figue out how I going to do it. Dams are nothing but obstacles and you may have many unforseen obstacles.My most difficult dam took 2 1/2 hours to get around. Some dams have locks and may allow you to pass thru and some dams are tough but sometimes they are still easier than all the little things such as wind, rain and cold.

If you go with someone in a tandem you will have help with many things but you will have other problems such as each other's happiness and contentment by paddling together in the same boat and then you have a storage problem.

The reason I asked your age; Is this a wild dream or one that will come to fruition. Obstacles will slow you down but they can't stop you "if" you are determined.

Remember this quote from G_K.
"It isn't what goes right on a trip that makes it great. It is what goes wrong and how well you compensate.

Paddlin' on

since you are a beginner
let me suggest the Rideau River in Ontario–it’s flat water and lakes and since it is actually a river-canal system, there is very little current. Also there are a lot of dams but no portages–you take locks around the dams–good news is its only 126 miles–starts in Kingston and ends in Ottawa(great urban scenery) or vice versa if you wish and you can camp at the locksites. Also for a beginner its great because if you get tired of doing the bucket list paddle, you can simply call a friend and have him pick you up at one of the lock stations.

If I were in Texas and didnt want to travel I would do the Rio Grande—had a friend who did it and really liked it–but there are some class III rips on it—so if you are brand new to paddling you might want to get some WW practice before going it alone. Have fun.

Big lake Big Paddle
River are good.

But, I feel too closed in when I’m on a river.

I use to race on rivers in Indiana and now I find more enjoyment paddling the great lakes and Light House Row, Painted Rocks, Isle Royal and the list goes on.

Never seen the same thing twice in one trip if you plan it right.

Opposite end from GK
There is a spectrum of how to undertake your first big trip. I found myself in a situation similar to yours a few years ago. Had been paddling around on my local lake for 6 months and decided I wanted to paddle to the ocean from my home tributary 200 miles inland.

I used the trip as a goal and framework for my learning about kayaking. Check out my blog if you want some of my thoughts and experiences in preparing for and during the trip.

Long story short - if all you want to do is check a trip off your life list then make sure you cover the safety basics, choose a relatively easy river, and have fun. I think 4 days prep for anyone but Richard is crazy, but to each their own. If you think kayaking and outdoors may be a new avenue in life, then research like crazy and use the preparations as the learning plan for a lifetime.

Good points in your post
He didn’t give us much info so maybe he will contact someone and get some good advice.

Not sure when you did you trip but I’m going to your blog when I finish typing this. Mine started on July 9 and ended on Aug 5 but it was duing those 26days alone that I fell in love with rivers and paddling.

I am not the normal outdoors person, have had much survival training and an excellent strong swimmer.

Be careful, Be safe and have fun.


Welcome !!!
Unless you are wanting do do a solo trip you may want to go with a group or at least 1 person. It has a safety factor benefit, you can carry and share more gear and food.

The Yukon…Whitehorse to saltwater
about 1800 miles…

Sorry So Late
I did actually reply to your last post but I guess it didn’t post…

I am 20 years old right now. Will be 21 … almost around to 22 by the time I’m ready for the trip.

I do want start kayaking and see where that can take me. I’m planning on buying a kayak and paddling around my local lake and some small rivers around my area to get the feel for it.

However, I don’t have the kind of money you spent. First off, I’m paying off student loans. Secondly my main priority is the Appalachian Trail. I’m doing a month and a half long section hike from Harper’s Ferry to the Smokie Mountains this upcoming summer. Then a thruhike from Georgia to Maine the Spring - Summer of 2010. My kayaking trip, would be what remains of the summer after backpacking. Probably end up being 2 - 3 weeks because I’ve had to push back my start date for my thruhike and I have to fit it in before school starts up again at the end of August.

I am not just saying that I want to do this. I really am going to do this. It’s just going to be a long drawn out process. From buying a kayak … sometime within the next 6 - 10 months (whenever I can get the money saved by), to fitting in kayaking trips around backpacking trips, and everything else.

I appreciate everyones comments. Sorry I havn’t posted sooner. End of the semester - finals time.

you don’t need
the money that GK raises to go paddle local rivers—don’t worry about it now—get enough to buy a kayak and paddle(and pfd) and sign up for a local paddling course–usually around 50–100 bucks at a local guide service or YMCA—and then start paddling—doesn’t take a great deal of cash to start–used kayak and paddle–500–1000 dollars will do it—a tent and other camping equipement like a sleeping pad and bag and a small propane stove–200-300 tops–then get out and enjoy yourself—hint–dont’ worry about paddling an entire river—just paddle when and where you can–

if you are going to be up in Maine
it would be a shame not to look into the rivers and outfitters up there! my buddy and I took our boys on the Allagash this past August and it was nothing short of fantastic… if you are going with a buddy I would recommend a tripping canoe not a tandem kayak

cant beat the allagash
it was my first canoe camping trip–let me also reccomend the Aroostook, the St John(more white water and more techinical than the Aroostook or Allagash) and the St Croix—