Paddling

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A family canoes down a river.
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David Stonner
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In Missouri, floating down streams and paddling around lakes are fantastic ways to enjoy the state’s great outdoors. Whether your passion is angling for smallmouth or rock bass, keeping an eye out for elusive wildlife, or simply drifting downstream with the current, a day on the water will lift your spirits. Depending on the river or stream and your skill level, paddlers can travel in a variety of vessels, including kayaks, rafts, canoes, boats, and tubes.

New and experienced paddlers will appreciate MDC’s A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri, which features 58 rivers and streams. The guide is available at MDC offices, nature centers, and the Department’s online Nature Shop.

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Guidelines for Paddling Missouri Streams

Wear a Properly Fitted Life Jacket

A life jacket is the most important piece of equipment you will need for canoeing. Even with a life jacket, you should be comfortable with your swimming abilities.

Protect Yourself From the Sun

Wear sunscreen and a hat and/or sunglasses  the sun is hot and bright, especially when it reflects off the water. Remember, there is rarely any shade out on the water.

Bring Plenty of Drinking Water

You might work up a sweat with all of that paddling — make sure you stay hydrated.

Choose Your Stream, River, or Lake

  • Choose the correct paddling location for your skill level. A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri can give you a lot of information about Missouri streams. If you are new to canoeing, try a short paddle around a local pond or conservation area lake.
  • Be prepared if your boat capsizes. Knowing the weather conditions and water temperature before you go out can help prepare you in case your boat tips over.
  • Check the trespassing regulations to know where you are — and are not — allowed to be.
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Etiquette

Remember boat etiquette around other visitors; large boats with motors have the right of way when accessing a boat ramp.

Get Free “Stash Your Trash” Bags

Help keep Missouri streams clean and healthy while you are having fun on the water. The float outfitters listed below work with the Missouri Stream Team program to provide free “Stash Your Trash” red mesh bags. Stash your own trash, and be sure to pick up litter you encounter, too!

Missouri's streams are not only beautiful and full of life, they’re a big part of Missouri’s outdoor recreation economy. Please support the businesses that participate in the Stream Team’s Stash Your Trash program.

Stream Team Member? Get a Discount

Some of the outfitters listed below may offer a discount for Stream Team members who plan litter pickups or other Stream Team activities during their float trips. Just present your Stream Team ID. Discount types and times vary by outfitter.

Not a Stream Team member? Visit www.mostreamteam.org to join the network of thousands of volunteers who help protect Missouri streams.

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Two canoers put plastic containers in a "Stash Your Trash" red mesh bag.
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Two canoers put plastic containers in a "Stash Your Trash" red mesh bag.
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MDC
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Related Missouri Conservationist Stories

Find Canoe Outfitters

Displaying 1 - 10 of 93
Business Address Phone Stream Team Discount
Arrowhead Campground
17901 State Highway Y
Glenallen, MO 63751
573-495-2137
No
Big Rock Candy Mtn. Retreat
bigrockcandymt.com
36225 Big Rock Candy Mt
Jadwin, MO 65501
417-932-1223
Yes
Harvest holler llc
6546 Wayne route M
Marquand , MO 63655
573-701-4469
No
James River Outfitters
jamesriveroutfitters.com
110 Y Bridge Blvd
Galena, MO 65656
417-357-6443
Yes
Maggard's Canoe & Corkery Campground
nianguariver.com
15750 Highway 64
Lebanon, MO 65536
417-532-7616
Yes
Meramec State Park Concessions, Inc.
meramecpark.com
670 Fisher Cave Drive
Sullivan, MO 63080
573-468-6519
No
Missouri Park Adventures
missouriparkadventures.com
13041 State Highway 104
DeSoto, MO 63020
636-586-2995
Yes
Mountain Creek Family Resort
mountaincreekcanoes.com
11564 Kinfolk Road
Eldridge, MO 65463
417-426-5641
Yes
Niangua River Oasis, Inc.
nrocanoe.com
171 NRO Road
Lebanon, MO 65536
417-532-6333
Yes
Old Cove Canoe & Kayak, LLC
oldcovecanoe.com
1316 Old Cove Road
Saint Clair, MO 63077
636-629-2220
Yes

Events

Find events near you.
Registration period: February 1 - April 17
Date: Saturday, April 20, 2024 10:00 am - Saturday, April 20, 2024 12:00 pm
Location: Morningside Lake
Join us for beginner kayaking and a relaxing time on the water. During this kayaking program you will learn about paddling equipment, paddling safety, and how to paddle a kayak on a lake. Life jackets, kayaks, and paddles will be provided. Bring a bottle of water, sunscreen, and closed toed shoes that can get wet. We will meet at the boat ramp area at Morningside Lake off Helm Street in Fulton. Minimum age to participate is 9 years old. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.