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Mississippi River: Can You Kayak the Mississippi River?

Published September 6, 2022

Have you ever thought about kayaking the Mississippi River? Many people dream about canoeing or Kayaking on this magnificent waterway, but few have ever taken a trip downriver. The river has some of the most beautiful scenery, which is a challenging adventure for those with little experience. The only way to truly appreciate it is by going down and back again on many different trips over a period of time.

If you have never kayaked on the Mississippi River, this guide will be very helpful because you will get to know everything about kayaking the Mississippi River.

So, let’s get started.

Kayaking the Mississippi River: Summary

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is one of the most important rivers in the United States. It flows through several states, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The river’s main tributaries include the Ohio River and various streams that flow from Minnesota to New York. The river’s water powers hundreds of dams and hydroelectric plants that provide power for many cities and towns across the country.

Besides its geographical value, there are hundreds of other reasons why the Mississippi River is important to Americans. And one of the biggest reasons is its beauty. You will find hundreds of beautiful spots near the river, and it’s also rich in marine life. You may find many breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. It’s a great place to visit, and you will have a wonderful time there.

That’s why many new and experienced kayakers want to kayak on this historical river but don’t know anything about kayaking the Mississippi River.

So, let’s get to know everything about kayaking the Mississippi River.

Kayaking the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is one of the most amazing things you will ever do, and it doesn’t get much better than Kayaking on this majestic river. You can choose from various routes to explore the river, including kayaking through locks and dams or just floating down through rapids and waterfalls. There are so many options for your time on the water that you may plan multiple trips during your stay in St. Louis or Memphis.

Kayaking the Mississippi River can be done with or without a guide, though it’s recommended that you bring a guide if possible. A guide will provide information about what you’re seeing along the way and help make the trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. Guides are also required by law when using some parts of the river where no signs indicate otherwise.

Besides, Kayaking the Mississippi River is easy, and even a beginner can enjoy the experience with a little practice.

Is it Safe to Kayak down the Mississippi River?

It is safe to kayak down the Mississippi River, but you should be aware of some safety rules.

First, make sure you have the right equipment. Kayaks are great for travel and a good way to see the river up close, but they can’t handle all conditions. If you’re going to kayak down the Mississippi River, you must have a life jacket, so check out our guide on buying one.

Next, make sure that your kayak is in good shape. If it’s been sitting around for a while and has gotten rained on or banged around by other boats, it might not be able to handle the force of moving water. Make sure that your boat is ready for adventure!

Finally, if you’re traveling with others in your kayak (or alone), ensure everyone knows how to swim. It’s not just about safety—it’s about being able to escape quickly if something happens along the way!

Do I need a Permit to Kayak on the Mississippi River?

Yes, you do need a permit to kayak on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is a designated river with its own rules. But, having a Boater’s Safety Education Card to kayak on the Mississippi River is mandatory.

Besides, you can’t kayak in any area that has been closed by the Corps of Engineers, which includes areas that are not open to public access. You also can’t paddle where there have been water pollution incidents. This includes areas where an oil spill or other environmental disaster has affected the river’s ecosystem.

Is it Possible to Kayak the Entire Mississippi River?

Yes, it’s possible to kayak the entire Mississippi River!

And not just any river—the mighty Mississippi. This 3766-kilometer waterway is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in North America, and it’s also one of the most challenging rivers for a kayaker to navigate. That said, if you’re a professional kayaker who wants to spend weeks on end in open water, you should be able to make it happen.

Recently, a woman made a trip down the Mississippi River in just 55 days! This shows that you can kayak the Mississippi River and can do it if you are willing and energetic enough.

How Long Will it Take to Kayak the Entire Mississippi River?

Narcity.com: Man nearly kayaks the whole Mississippi River in just under one month.

It will take you between 50 and 60 days to kayak the entire Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River is 3766 KM in length, so it is possible to kayak the entire length of the river in a single trip. However, it is important to note that there are many different sections of the river in which you could choose to paddle, so your route choice may vary according to your interests. In order to make this calculation, we have taken into account the following factors:

The average speed of a kayak is about 2 knots per hour.

We have also considered that we would be spending at least one night sleeping on either side of every major waterway crossing point. Each night’s journey would last between 6 and 8 hours.

Finally, we have added all of these factors together for our final estimate: approximately 50 days for those who start from New Orleans and 60 days for those who start from St. Louis!

How Deep is the Mississippi River?

The average depth of the Mississippi River is 9 to 12 feet. That’s why it’s one of the most popular rivers for kayakers, who can get as deep as 61 meters in some places. This means that you can enjoy the river with just a kayak, or you can take your canoe or raft on top of it.

Besides, you can also swim along the shore, where the average depth is 9 to 12 feet which is great for exploring underwater marine life.

So now you know almost everything about the Mississippi River, and you must be interested in kayaking the Mississippi River. So to help you, the following are some helpful tips for kayaking the Mississippi River.

Helpful Tips to Kayak the Mississippi River?

The following tips will help you enjoy your kayaking adventure on the mighty Mississippi River.

Plan Ahead!

The Mississippi River can be a great place to kayak, but it is also important to plan. Before starting your trip, you must know the weather conditions, water levels, and river currents. So if you are planning a long-distance kayaking expedition on the Mississippi River, you should check out various weather forecasts and water levels before setting off.

You should also plan your entire trip for when you will start your journey and which spots you will cover in your kayaking adventure. This will help you make a successful and safe journey down the Mississippi River.

Get yourself a good Kayak:

If you are going to kayak on the Mississippi River, you must get a good kayak. This will help you make your trip much more comfortable and enjoyable. Your kayak should be lightweight and sturdy enough for all weather conditions.

It is best to get a whitewater kayak because they are strong and specially built to withstand rough water.

Make sure to use proper clothing for Kayaking:

You will be outside in the hot sun, and you will also be getting wet. Therefore, you must wear proper clothing for Kayaking. Wear a hat and sunscreen, long pants and shirts, and shoes or boots with ankle support. This will protect you from the sun, wind, and water, as well as any possible injuries that may occur during your trip.

Besides, if you plan to kayak on the Mississippi River in the winter, you should also wear warm clothes and waterproof boots.

Get used to your kayak before you get on the river:

You must get used to it if you have bought a brand new kayak before you get on the Mississippi River. Practice with it in a lake or pool until you feel comfortable with its movements and weight. This will ensure you don’t get into trouble while on the river.

If you haven’t practiced your kayak, you might capsize or fall into the water during your trip. This will be dangerous not only for you but also for other kayakers who are on the river.

Check the weather before going out:

If you are going to be kayaking on the Mississippi River, you must check the weather. The weather can change quickly and cause problems for boats and kayakers on the river.

So it is better to plan your trip according to the weather conditions. If you are going on a long trip, then it is better to avoid doing so during the peak of summer. This will help save you from getting heatstroke or dehydration.

Paddle with the current and take breaks in between:

If you are planning to go Kayaking on the Mississippi River, then it is important that you paddle with the current. This will help you to save a lot of energy and make your trip more enjoyable. You should also take breaks in between so that you don’t get exhausted if something unexpected happens.

The Mississippi River is popular due to its great river scenery. You can see many beautiful birds, turtles, and alligators while on the water. And when you are paddling with the help of the current, you will be able to enjoy those breathtaking beautiful scenes and enjoy your time on the river.

Always wear a life vest and helmet:

Wearing a life vest and helmet is highly recommended. This will help you to stay safe in case something unexpected happens on the river. You should also make sure that your paddle is in good condition, as well as your equipment.

These safety checks will help you make a successful kayaking trip that you will remember for years.

Don't forget your bug spray:

You should not forget to bring bug spray on a kayaking trip. If you don’t bring any with you, the mosquitos and other insects will make it impossible for you to enjoy your time on the river. So make sure you have a good supply of bug spray before heading out on your adventure.

Bring enough snacks, drinks, and other supplies:

You should also ensure you bring enough snacks, drinks, and other supplies on your kayaking trip. If you don’t have enough to eat or drink while out on the river, it will be hard for you to enjoy yourself.

Stay sober and well rested while kayaking:

You should also ensure that you are sober and well-rested before going on a kayaking trip on the Mississippi River. If you have been drinking or partying the night before, it’s probably best to wait until the next day to go out on the river.

Because the river can be very dangerous, you must be sober and alert to ensure that nothing bad happens.


So this is everything you need to know about kayaking the Mississippi River. If you are interested in going out on the river, then it’s important to consider all of these things. Following the tips above, you should have a great time kayaking on the Mississippi River.

Besides, the most important thing to remember is don’t push your limits. Whenever you are out on the river, it’s important to stay within your limits. If you feel like you can’t go any further, then don’t push yourself. It’s better to turn back than to get hurt or worse!

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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