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FAQ - Is it safe to paddle?


Mark Twain said the “Mississippi is a book, you need to learn to read it.” Reading the river takes time & patience. Exercise respect, caution and leave plenty of time for careful observation.

The Mississippi River is notoriously dangerous, difficult to predict and full of surprises for the inexperienced paddler. Please be prepared for any and all river conditions, including fast water, turbulent water, large whirlpools, violent eddies, and erupting boils – AND extreme weather conditions: severe thunderstorms, front line winds, torrential rainfall, tornadoes. Use utmost caution around tugboats & other motorized traffic, especially around the Helena Harbor, or when making a channel crossing. Any stationary object is a potentially dangerous hazard to a paddler: buoys, piers or other docking installations, and forest hazards such as snags, sawyers, strainers, etc. Do not attempt any paddling anywhere on the Lower Mississippi unless you are proficient with Self-Rescue Technique. Experienced paddlers only, or hire a guide familiar with the big waters of the big river (such as Quapaw Canoe Company).

Canoes have been successfully used on the big rivers of the world for thousands of years, and good practices have developed alongside that make it a safe & efficient way to travel. Learn to safely paddle and you will enjoy the many pleasures of the big river! For more information about canoe & kayak rescue contact the American Red Cross or the American Canoe Association. Quapaw Canoe Company offer hands-on workshops on Self-Rescue Technique for canoeists & kayakers.
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