The recent anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition has served to renew public interest in the rich cultural history associated with the Missouri River. During the Lewis and Clark commemoration, several communities worked to revitalize their river fronts. As a result there are now several city parks, access points and viewing areas located along the river. The Missouri Department of Conservation has worked to greatly improve river access by expanding the number of boat ramps and public lands within the river’s corridor. The development of Katy Trail State Park provides a hiking and biking path that follows a large portion of the river’s path and has also spawned a whole range of services very close to the river's edge. The combination of these elements set the stage for the development of a formal water trail on more than 500 miles of the lower Missouri River.
Today, more and more people can be seen paddling a kayak or canoe down the wide-open Missouri River. Kayaking is in fact proving to be one of the fastest growing water-based recreational sports in America. The Missouri River offers a truly unique paddling experience, with opportunities for simple day trips or multi-day expeditions. The Missouri River is a large, fast-flowing river, with scenic views and a remote setting. A majority of Missourians live within a 20-minute drive of the river. This provides a world-class big river paddling experience right in their own backyard.
A strategic goal of this initiative is to use the power of the Internet to provide information and resources for planning a trip on the Missouri River. Printed materials are also being developed and efforts are underway to help communities take advantage of the water trail. The Missouri River served as a primary pathway to the west, playing a key role in Missouri’s development and highlighting the regions cultural heritage.
We hope you will consider a paddling trip on the historic Big Muddy. It is a large river and does require a certain amount of respect. We encourage you to review the safety tips prior to paddling on the river and to always use good judgment. Remember that the river is much more powerful than you are.
If you have an area along the river that you think paddlers should know about or any comments related to the project, please contact the project coordinator using the link at the bottom of this page.