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: June 15 - July 5
Date: Friday, July 5, 2024 9:00 am - Friday, July 5, 2024 11:00 am
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center

Come explore a range of outdoor skills with us in July! Sessions are:

Archery – July 5

Fishing – July 19

Paddling – July 26

Sign up for one session or all three. Bring a water bottle and wear appropriate clothing and shoes (no flip flops). Let’s explore! Registration required. Ages 7-12
Registration period: March 6 - July 8
Date: Monday, July 8, 2024 3:30 pm - Monday, July 8, 2024 6:00 pm
Location: Little Prairie CA

Flatwater Kayaking: July 8th at the Towell Lake Boat Ramp located within Little Prairie CA near Rolla.

Join us for an evening on the water for a basic flatwater kayaking program. Participants will learn information and safety about kayaking during a ground school portion of the class, then take to the water for paddling instruction and practice. Participants aged 13 and older are welcome to register; those aged younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Fishing poles will be provided if you wish to experience fishing from a kayak the later portion of the program; participants 16 and older must possess a valid fishing permit if you choose to fish.

Kayaks, paddles, and life-jackets will be provided. Close-toed shoes are required.

For questions please contact Dwight Warnke at Dwight.Warnke@mdc.mo.gov
Registration period: March 6 - July 18
Date: Thursday, July 18, 2024 3:30 pm - Thursday, July 18, 2024 6:00 pm
Location: Rinquelin Trail Lake CA

Flatwater Kayaking: July 18th at the boat ramp located within Rinquelin Trail Lake Conservation Area

Join us for an evening on the water for a basic flatwater kayaking program. Participants will learn information and safety about kayaking during a ground school portion of the class, then take to the water for paddling instruction and practice. Participants aged 13 and older are welcome to register; those aged younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Fishing poles will be provided if you wish to experience fishing from a kayak the later portion of the program; participants 16 and older must possess a valid fishing permit if you choose to fish.

Kayaks, paddles, and life-jackets will be provided. Close-toed shoes are required.

For questions please contact Dwight Warnke at Dwight.Warnke@mdc.mo.gov
Registration period: July 1 - July 19
Date: Friday, July 19, 2024 9:00 am - Friday, July 19, 2024 11:00 am
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center

Come explore a range of outdoor skills with us in July! Sessions are:

Archery – July 5

Fishing – July 19

Paddling – July 26

Sign up for one session or all three. Bring a water bottle and wear appropriate clothing and shoes (no flip flops). Let’s explore! Registration required. Ages 7-12

Registration period: July 1 - July 26
Date: Friday, July 26, 2024 9:00 am - Friday, July 26, 2024 11:00 am
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center

Come explore a range of outdoor skills with us in July! Sessions are:

Archery – July 5

Fishing – July 19

Paddling – July 26

Sign up for one session or all three. Bring a water bottle and wear appropriate clothing and shoes (no flip flops). Let’s explore! Registration required. Ages 7-12

Registration period: April 19 - August 31
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2024 8:30 am - Saturday, August 31, 2024 12:30 pm
Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center
Summer is truly in full swing! Take a break from the heat to enjoy the water on scenic Lake Girardeau. This program is an opportunity to get your friends or family out on the water. Participants will receive basic instruction and then borrow one of our canoes for a morning on the lake. We will not be paddling as a group and your party may go at their own pace. MDC staff will be on the water to assist in emergencies. If you wish to bring your own fishing supplies and have a valid permit you are welcome to fish during your time on the water. Meet at the Lake Girardeau west boat launch off county road 383. Failure to arrive by 9:00 will forfeit your reservation. Canoes, paddles, lifejackets and safety equipment will be provided. Please only register 1 person to reserve a canoe. Canoes hold up to 2 Adults and 1 child. Please no pets or alcohol.