Well, maybe not exactly like Mark Twain. Instead of a raft you’ll be in a Quapaw hand carved wooden canoe with a couple guides to do the hard work and ensure your safety.
But, taking a paddle on the Mississippi River might give you a similar experience as you dip your oar in the water and quietly glide across the water. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have some of those feelings of being at peace and at one with nature that Mark Twain wrote about in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Of course, I always find a sense of calm when I’m on the water and the Mississippi River did not disappoint.
Upon arrival at the launch site I immediately spot a number of large barges on the river. I look from our canoe to the barges and back again and think “hmmm, I wonder how this will work”
But, I figured our guides knew what they were doing and sat myself down in my assigned seat and decided to embrace the adventure.
I’m first to step in the canoe and I do so as carefully as possible. The only times I’ve dumped out of my kayak is when I’m getting in or out of it so I’m always extra cautious. Thankfully, it was not a concern during this trip.
Once everyone is settled in the canoe we push off from shore. We pause for a bit while we wait for river traffic to clear (thank god) and then begin paddling up the river with the goal of stopping at a sandy beach.
The middle of the river provides an opportunity to really practice your paddling skills as the water is a bit rougher, but the guides are awesome and I’m 100% sure they do the majority of the work (THANK YOU!).
We paddles up river to a sandy beach on the opposite side of the river and took the opportunity to get out and explore for a bit. You can take a dip in the Mississippi River if you feel so inclined.
If you’ve been following my travels for any amount of time you can probably guess that I was a hard pass on swimming in the Mississippi, but those that did had fun. I have a personal rule that I only swim in water I can see to the bottom of–lol.
After enjoying the beach area for a bit and searching for the perfect piece of driftwood to bring home it was time to make our way back to the launch site.
During our beach time the wind had picked up quite a bit and made the paddle back a bit more challenging, but I loved every minute of it.
Paddling big water gives new appreciation to what it must have been like to spend days and weeks floating the Mighty Miss on a raft. My brief adventure wasn’t nearly enough and I can see more Mississippi River paddles, with a guide, in my future.
3 Mississippi River Tips:
- The river is active with Asian Carp. One may try to jump in your canoe and instead slam against the side of it. Do Not Scream (#JustSaying) and if a carp does land in the canoe let your guide do the work to toss it back in the river.
- I’m always over cautious so I placed my phone in a waterproof bag AND had it attached to a lanyard. Thankfully, neither was needed, but glad I took the precautions. Figured it would be just my luck to drop my phone in the river. I wasn’t taking any chances. I mean, it is 2020, weird stuff is happening all the time.
- You may get a little wet during your paddle especially if its windy and the waves splash into the canoe. Dress accordingly.
Paddle the Mississippi River with Quapaw Canoe Company
Of course, I wouldn’t consider paddling the Mississippi River in Mississippi with anyone other than Quapaw Canoe Company.
They have years of Mississippi River experience and take you out in one of their handcrafted wooden canoes.
Located in downtown Clarksdale (there is also a location in Vicksburg, MS and Helena, AR), we followed them out to the launch site about 15 minutes away from their storefront location.
I felt completely safe and at ease with them as our guides. They are both knowledgable about the river, nature and reading the water to keep everyone in the boat.
In addition to short paddles, Quapaw offers up to week-long guided canoe trips.
If you don’t have time to take a paddle with them during your visit to Clarksdale, be sure to stop in at their store front and pick up a piece of gorgeous Mississippi River map art.
If you need the perfect place to stay in Clarksdale be sure to check out The Hooker Hotel or Squeeze Box.
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