Canoeing the Mississippi !? (1 Viewer)



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About three and a half years ago, I had thought of doing the same thing, only I was gonna build my own raft out of 5-gallon water bottles and other upcycled materials.

I even had a friend of mine with an engineering background help me out with the design of the raft, to ensure its seaworthiness.

PLEASE keep us updated on how this idea (hopefully) pans out, as I would LOVE to hear/read a first-hand account of such an epic journey.

Believe it or not. Someone made it down the river in 2016 on a trash raft lol. 2 liter bottles and whatnot.

I pictured you in more of a longboat than a raft though.
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Hey all, and first off this sounds like a kick-ass idea, second, sorry this will be a long post.

I've spent some time on the ol" mississip', but only in the vicinity of Winona, MN, and in the St. Croix river (a tributary and the northern border between MN and WI) It's a pretty calm and beautiful river at both of those points, but I'm not sure what it does elsewhere.

I canoed a long stretch (about 150 miles) of the Wisconsin River (also a tributary) last summer, from Whiting, WI to Merrimac, WI. Between these two points the river is pretty darn wide, approaching the Mississippi in width, and even wider when impounded by dams. My experiences (although somewhat limited) with these wider rivers is that they are pretty tame and predictable. I dealt with some really crazy weather conditions during my trip (high winds right in my face, waves up to three feet tall and whatnot), but I didn't have any "risky" conditions from the river itself.

The Mississippi is a huge thoroughfare for cargo vessels. This would work with, and against you at the same time. On one hand, water levels are carefully controlled with locks and dams to get the cargo to its destination without problems (so pushing yourself out of a swamp is HIGHLY unlikely), but on the other hand, you would be dealing with a lot of traffic. There is a certain etiquette to staying out of large boats path, just like being savvy in a train yard. A lot of traffic will also be recreational/fishing boats, which can vary widely in how "polite" they are to a small boater. Some will slow down and give you a break, others will speed up to create a big wake just to fuck with you. Not something that should discourage you, but something you will probably experience. Something that helped me on my trip was waking up wicked early, like 4 am, and getting on the water before people started showing up. This also helps with rough weather too, as wind is generally the highest at mid-day, so if you can get half a day in by then you can chill and fish or something when it gets shitty.

As far as boat choice goes, this mostly depends on how experienced you are with paddling. I am a canoe fan myself, and love them for how much fucking stuff you can pack in them. A decent aluminum canoe would run you about 150-300 bucks in my experience, and a cheaper plastic canoe could be found for 100 or less. The thing with canoes though is that they keep their value, so its likely that you could sell it for the price you bought it for at the end of your trip. CRAIGSLIST IS YOUR FRIEND.

Kayaks are stupid easy to navigate and generally run lighter in weight than canoes. I would also respectfully disagree with AlmostAlwaysLost and say that in my experience kayaks are more stable than canoes, especially if you haven't had much paddling experience, but they come with the trade off of less gear storage. Also, the fact that kayaks are enclosed makes water really hard to get out of them once it gets in. And it will get in. (Plus, if you get a decent size canoe, like 16-18 feet, you can sleep totally comfortably under them if you prop them up on your paddles, its really awesome actually)

Anyway, this sounds like an epic idea, and I would say its totally doable with some proper planning, like AlmostAlwaysLost said. The mississippi is a great river, you would probably have a fucking great time. I also have lived in Wisconsin for a long time, so if you have anymore general questions on weather, climate or whatever I could give it a shot at an answer.

Its the lower miss that can get swampy if you don't watch the water levels. I've never seen the Miss below St Louis and you are definitely good till there but further south you can end up in a marsh if you have to dodge a barge.

I'd be to too afraid to kayak the river, one errant tugboat and your in the drink. But I saw a couple idiots do about 25 miles in an inner tube so.

Will Wood

Apr 9, 2016
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Or, you could get a friend who is going on a cruise ship to let you copy his ticket. Then use your canoe to row out to the ship and board unseen.. And enjoy a cruise!! Maybe when you make it to New Orleans you could consider this option ??? I wonder if someone has done this sort of thing?? Now that I think about it, it sounds kind of fun.. ..??


May 9, 2016
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Atlanta, GA
Or, you could get a friend who is going on a cruise ship to let you copy his ticket. Then use your canoe to row out to the ship and board unseen.. And enjoy a cruise!! Maybe when you make it to New Orleans you could consider this option ??? I wonder if someone has done this sort of thing?? Now that I think about it, it sounds kind of fun.. ..??
Would that actually work? Wouldn't when they scan a copied ticket it would show up as a duplicate or something. If not, that would be the coolest possible way to cap that adventure.


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It is very doable in a small craft like a kayak or canoe if you hug the shore, you can portage all the locks relatively easily. I think you would find the most difficulty the farther south you got below Cairo where extremely large ocean going vessels will and can swamp you.


Sep 24, 2017
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St. Paul, MN
I got this idea I'm super excited about... so hear me out and feel free to destroy me if the idea is terrible.

I'm thinking train hop and hitch up to Minnesota or wherever one of the tributaries of the Mississippi starts from. Should be cake, just rail tramping with my pack, nothing new.

Get to said spot (not sure where would be a good starting point?) and acquire some sort of raft. Kayak? Canoe? Small sailboat? I dont really know which would be the best option, so I'd love some feedback on that. I dont really know much about sailing...yet.

theres no rapids or anything along the river that would be a significant obstacle. I could stop in port towns to restock supplies or work for some cash or whatever then head out again.

Could take it all the way to the gulf...

How crazy is this plan or does anybody have any experience with this??
Hey what’s up man let’s link up. Me and my girlfriend Destinee are doing the whole river this summer. It would be cool to talk to you about it. You busy this summer?

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