Emily and I recently participated in a unique and exciting experience: canoeing on the Mississippi River with Mississippi River Expeditions.
We all know that the Mississippi river has been navigated by canoes for thousands of years, but somehow I had never considered the idea that this could still be done today.
Mississippi River Expeditions allows you to be a part of this mighty river’s never-ending flow to the sea. You can feel the past meeting the present and experience the heartbeat of the south in the sound of the Mississippi.
I highly recommend this adventure!
About Mississippi River Expeditions
You might be surprised to learn that from the city of St. Louis all the way down to the bayous of Louisiana, there are more than 500 miles of wilderness on the Mississippi River.
In fact, the purpose and stated goal of the Mississippi River Expeditions is to:
get as many people out on the Mississippi River as possible, to bring out the wilderness within, and to show the beauty of this iconic river.Mississippi River Expedition website
I believe that they are succeeding!
An excursion with Mississippi River Expeditions will allow you to experience something so unique and different from your everyday life that it might just bring you to a new sense of adventure.
Who are the people behind Mississippi River Expeditions?
The owner and leader of Mississippi River Expeditions is Matthew Burdine. He is a bearded and soft spoken with a bit of a Delta drawl. You will immediately sense his capability on the water and know that you are in good hands.
Burdine owns and is head guide for the Memphis outpost of Mississippi River Expeditions.
He is in association with John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company.
Ruskey is quite famous in the Mississippi River Delta and beyond for many things. Some of which include; his Mississippi River conservation efforts, canoe building, leading expeditions on the river, working with under-privileged children, guitar playing, and artwork.
In fact, Mr. Ruskey has even recently been the artist in residence in the delta town of Wilson, Arkansas.
Yes, he is the definition of a Renaissance man.
You may want to watch this video to learn more about this unique person.
What is Quapaw Canoe Company
About 25 years ago Mr. Rusky started the Quapaw Canoe Company in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Not only is Mr. Rusky a seasoned riverman, but he is also a master canoe builder.
He and his team build the Voyageur canoes which are the most iconic and historic craft capable of safely navigating the wide, moving waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Outposts of Mississippi River Expeditions and Quapaw Canoe Company
The Mississippi River Expeditions are based at an outpost on the Mud Island Marina in Memphis, Tennessee.
Quapaw Canoe Company is located in Clarksdale, Mississippi. This is the original outpost and this section of the river is considered to be the wildest. It is also where Mr. Rusky began building his famous canoes.
There is also has an outpost with expeditions leaving from Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Soon, the small Delta town of Wilson, Arkansas will also have an outpost with river excursions.
Types of Excursions Available
We did a morning river trip. We met at the Mud Island Marina and then were shuttled up to the north end of Mud Island to begin our trip.
We paddled across and down the river, spend time on a sandbar in Arkansas, and then paddled farther downstream, under the I-40 river bridge and eventually back to the marina on Mud Island.
This adventure also included charcuterie and mimosas while on the sand bar.
It is as if you are a world away even though you can see the skyline of Memphis including the Pyramid and the I-40 river bridge.
The feeling and the views are simply incredible and difficult to describe. This excursion allows you to take in the city from an entirely different perspective.
Mississippi River Expeditions also offers a variety of other adventures such as micro-trips, sunset and happy hour cruises, and afternoon trips.
If you really want to fully experience the wildness of the river there are overnight and multi-day camping trips.
Be sure and check their website for all the information.
You can bring your own group for any of these trips. We were told that the overnight excursions are popular with bachelor parties.
I think that they would be great for a friend or family group.
Quapaw Canoe Company also offers wilderness adventures and expeditions on the Lower Mississippi River, its back waters, bayous, oxbows, and the floodplain in between the levees.
There are even yoga trips!
Be sure and check their website for all of the options.
How Strenuous is the Paddling?
It is important to be aware that clients will be expected to paddle. There are no motors on these boats.
That said, I did not think that the paddling was terribly difficult. However, if you have shoulder or arm issues you will want to take that into consideration.
Also, you will want to be prepared for the elements. We were on the water on a clear, but cold morning. It was gorgeous, but I was happy to have a jacket.
Just check ahead and know the type of weather that you might be experiencing on the day of your excursion!
Is it Dangerous?
I have to be honest and say that this was my first question. Many Arkansans, including myself, have long viewed the Mississippi River as a dangerous place.
Those who grew up in towns along its banks will attest to the fact that they were constantly warned to stay away from the river.
Obviously, all rivers can be dangerous especially in certain sections or certain conditions. However, the southern stretches of the Mississippi tend to be pretty safe.
But more than that, the guides from Mississippi River Expeditions know this river. They know it like you know the road home to your house.
They are highly trained and have years of river rowing experience and years of experience watching the currents and the winds.
They will not let you out on the river if the conditions are not safe. I felt completely secure in their care and believe that you will, too.
Of course you will also be required to wear a life jacket!
What are the Canoes Like?
These are large, multi-person canoes made specifically for the river and they are incredibly steady. Conditions were very windy on the day of our morning excursion and I was honestly expecting the canoes to rock much more than they actually did.
I think that you will be extremely impressed with the beauty as well as the stability and spaciousness of the canoes.
Emily and I HIGHLY recommend that you give this adventure a try.
We travel all over Arkansas and nearby states hiking, adventuring, seeing interesting sights, trying new restaurants and so much more.
However, we would both say that this canoe excursion with Mississippi River Expeditions was one of the highlights of our year.
For More Information Check out Rivergator.org
If you are interested in learning more about paddling the Mississippi River check out the website Rivergator.org.
Thanks for stopping by!