Paddling the Mississippi River
The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area follows 72 miles of the Mississippi River from Dayton downstream past Hastings. This stretch of river includes waterfalls, historic sites, tall river bluffs, barges, 4 locks and dams, 18 cities, and 19 bald eagle nests! One great way to experience our national park is by canoe or kayak. Many people think of Minnesota’s thousands of lakes when thinking of setting out in their canoe, but paddling is a wonderful way to see the Mississippi up close. So grab a paddle and a life jacket and head out on the Mississippi River!
Getting on the River
River Safety-Wear your life jacket (personal floatation device) or have it accessible at all times.
Mississippi River currents can be powerful in high water. Use caution around bridge piers, dams, and constricted passages.
-Be aware of the commercial navigation channel marked by red and green buoys. When paddling downstream the green buoys (square-topped in profile) will be on the right side of the channel; red buoys (triangular- topped in profile) will be on the left. (Remember the phrase: "red, right, returning"- red buoys on the right side of the boat when returning upstream to port.)
-When encountering wake from a towboat or other motorized vessel, angle your bow into the waves. Broadside waves can tip a canoe or kayak if you are not careful. By turning into the waves your vessel will be more stable. Keep paddling! You are more stable under power.
-Be prepared to brace if necessary. Be aware of weather conditions before setting out. In windy and foul weather stay ashore. Winds often funnel along the river.