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Helena - St. Francis River Overnight

Narrative: The St. Francis River drains 8,400 square miles of the Missouri Ozarks & Boot Heel, and is the biggest Mississippi tributary (on its west bank) in between St. Louis and the White River. 475 miles long. Its muddy bottoms render secrets unearthed from the last ice age. Its confluence creates one of the wildest bottomland floodplains in the region, and nearby is the dynamic St. Francis National Forest. Not far beyond is found the "Big Woods," where the Ivory Billed Woodpecker was recently sighted after being considered extinct since the 1920s.

This is an inspiring overnight adventure into Helena - paddle with the tugboats and camp with the coyotes! Put in at the St. Francis confluence and canoe downstream alongside the variegated woods that parallel Crowley's Ridge into Helena. Side-channels and secret waterways to explore depending on river level. Great fossil hunting and bird watching from the gravel bars at the top end of Buck Island. Becoming a habitat for Bald Eagle.


We do all of our cooking on the campfire with cast iron cookware, pans, pots & Dutch ovens. Smoked Cowboy Coffee (our specialty) poured from enamel coffee pots, we always keep hot water in a separate pot for soups & tea. We'll have on board big coolers with ice and several dry boxes for dry goods in case you have something extra you want to bring (ie: BYOB). Meals served on enamel camp plates, bowls & cups. Any personal food requirements? Let us know, otherwise we'll go with whatever looks freshest & tastiest at the local grocery and (in season) the Clarksdale Farmer's Market!

Day I
9am: Meet at the Helena Harbor, pack your gear into our drybags, board shuttle
10:30am: Shuttle to the mouth of the St. Francis River. Load canoes/kayaks and push off downstream.
11am: Explore channels behind the Helena Islands
12noon: Explore Prairie Point Islands
1pm: Make landing on Buck Island. Set-up camp. River Lunch.
2-5pm: Time for exploring, beach-combing, swimming, following tracks across the huge sandbars, fossil-finding on the gravel bars, fishing, etc.
6pm: Supper. Fish Fry, Bar-B-Que, Southern Soul Food.

Day II
8am: Cowboy Coffee & River Breakfast
9am: More exploring, birding, tracking, etc. on Buck Island
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Reload canoes. Possible exploration into old river chute at Trotter's.
3pm: Explore bottom end of Island
4-5pm: Return to Helena Harbor


All expeditions are outfitted with first-aid kits, rescue ropes, life preservers, cellular communication, and VHF marine radio.  Please remember itinerary is dependent on river level and prevailing weather.
When on the river, there is no time but “River Time.”
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