Canoeing the Missouri

Although it has no whitewater, the Missouri can still be dangerous. Unseen eddy currents, undertows, sandbars, snags and submerged branches are just some of the hazards to watercraft. Persons canoeing or kayaking the Wild & Scenic River should have prior experience in moving water and should always wear life jackets regardless of swimming ability.

Canoeing Accessories

What you need for a day trip:

  • Paddles
  • Spare Paddle
  • Bailing bucket and/or sponge*
  • Life Jacket for each person*
  • Whistle or other audible signal device*
  • Throw bag or Throwable floatation device#
  • Litter bag

Dry bag containing:

  • River map
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Lunch or snacks
  • Sunblock
  • Insect Repellent
  • Change of clothing
  • Optional: Hand sanitizer, flashlight & batteries, multi-purpose tool, duct tape, towel, cell phone

* required by SD, NE, and/or federal regulations
# required by federal regulation for vessels 16 ft and over

All items except the paddles in use should be secured to the seats or thwarts to prevent their being lost in the event of a capsizing. Bow and stern ropes should be coiled and strapped to the fore and aft decks. Ropes should not be left trailing in the water or loose in the boat, nor should they be tied to seats or thwarts. Either way they could trap an arm or leg in case of a capsizing.

More recommendations for equipment and safety are available at

Inforgraphic listing and showing the different types of personal flotation devices in black and white

From “South Dakota Boating Handbook”, South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks

Life Jackets – Wear 'em!

Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) are required for all occupants of any vessel and must be WORN by children under 13 per state laws and the Code of Federal Regulations (below). It is strongly recommended that ALL canoers wear them at all times on or around the water, regardless of swimming ability.


Subpart B_Personal Flotation Devices

Sec. 175.15 Personal flotation devices required.

Except as provided in Sec. 175.17 and 175.25:
(a) No person may use a recreational vessel unless at least one PFD of the following types is on board for each person:
(1) Type I PFD;
(2) Type II PFD; or
(3) Type III PFD.
(b) No person may use a recreational vessel 16 feet or more in length unless one Type IV PFD is on board in addition to the total number of PFDs required in paragraph (a) of this section.
(c) No person may operate a recreational vessel under way with any child under 13 years old aboard unless each such child is either--
(1) Wearing an appropriate PFD approved by the Coast Guard; or
(2) Below decks or in an enclosed cabin.

[CGD 81-023, 55 FR 32034, Aug. 6, 1990, as amended by CGD 92-045, 58 FR 41608, Aug. 4, 1993; USCG-2000-8589, 67 FR 42493, June 24, 2002]


Tips for Water Safety

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    Last updated: September 17, 2020

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