Mississippi River Day Canoe Trip

Explore the Wilderness in the Heart of the Twin Cities

On our Mississippi River Day Trips, Wilderness Inquiry will provide all the gear you need to stay safe on the water. Looking for adventure in the heart of the Twin Cities? Explore the Mighty Mississippi River up close and personal on a half-day guided canoe trip. Paddling the Mississippi in one of our beautiful 24-foot cedar strip canoes is easy, fun, and affordable--everyone enjoys it. These popular adventures take place in our local National Park – the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) . You will discover wildlife and experience the amazing human history of the River. These trips fill up quickly. We encourage you to reserve your spot today!

Sample Itinerary

You will paddle one of three routes that are chosen depending upon water levels and other factors. Click on the trip you want to see the route. Each route takes 3-4 hours, with about 2 hours of actual paddling time. We will send you detailed instructions on your route when you register.

Upper Route: Brooklyn Park to Boom Island
Middle Route: East River Flats to Sand Flats
Lower Route: Hidden Falls to Harriet Island

Read more about our Mississippi River day trips in this great article by Maja Beckstrom

Travel, Terrain, Etc...

You will be paddling in 24-foot Voyageur canoes, following the river's 3-4 mph current as it winds along the shoreline. The voyageur canoes hold 6-10 paddlers. They are fast and stable boats, designed specifically for trips on big or moving water. Paddling distance is 4-8 miles, depending upon the route we do. It is active but not strenuous.

We provide water and snacks, but you should bring a bag lunch—coolers are provided. We will shuttle you back to your car after the trip is over. Detailed instructions on your route and where to meet will be sent upon confirmation of your participation.

The trip will start with paddling and safety instruction provided by Wilderness Inquiry guides. There will be a trained guide in the stern (back) of each canoe to ensure safety and a fun trip for everyone. National Park Service Rangers will accompany us on most trips to provide cultural and natural history interpretation.

Groups consist of 18 to 60 participants, plus Wilderness Inquiry and National Park Service staff and volunteers. Temperatures can vary greatly throughout the season. A suggested clothing list will be sent upon confirmation of your participation in the event.

There are bathroom facilities at the put-in and take out places. Your group will stop prior to departing and again upon completion of the trip.

A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Stretching over 2,350 miles, the Mississippi River winds through an impressive expanse of the country, but changes more in character in our stretch through the Twin Cities than in all of the rest of its length. Wilderness Inquiry’s Mississippi River day trips paddle 24-foot cedar strip voyageur canoes through the heart of the Twin Cities Metro Area. The 72 miles of river and adjacent shorelines that make up the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) offer paddlers of all levels an opportunity to immerse themselves in a place rich with historical and natural significance. WI offers three standard routes that we paddle depending on water levels—The Prairie River, The Gorge, or The Gorge to Floodplain River. Each route has a distinct natural and historical significance that shapes its personality.

The river changes character dramatically within the park boundary. From the river’s humble beginnings at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it enters the park north of Dayton, Minnesota, as a small prairie river. Moving through a mix of landscapes in Minneapolis, including an industrial area that marks the head of barge navigation, it thunders over Saint Anthony Falls, through the river’s tallest lock, and under the historic Stone Arch Bridge into a river gorge. It winds through this relatively tight and narrow canyon, where it is easy to forget that you are in a city, until its confluence with the Minnesota River below the restored and historic 1820s Fort Snelling. The sandstone and limestone cliffs stand fairly close to the river as it continues on the way to downtown Saint Paul, where the river valley opens up to the large floodplain river that flows to the sea.

Archeological evidence suggests that people have lived alongside the river for nearly 12,000 years. Known to the Dakota as Ha-Ha-Wakpa (meaning Waterfall River), native peoples used the Mississippi as a means of trade, travel, and for important religious practices for thousands of years. Following European exploration in the late 1600s, Dakota villages became important sites of trade and commerce.

By the late 1800s, the Mississippi River had become both a tourist attraction and an economic powerhouse as the expanding lumber and flour milling industries took advantage of the waterpower of Saint Anthony Falls. By the 20th Minneapolis led the nation in lumber production and the world in flour production. The Gold Medal and Pillsbury Best flour brands, processed with the power of the Mississippi, soon became famous around the world. The Mighty Mississippi remains the lifeline of the Twin Cities’ economic, cultural, and historical life, and today we can paddle through it in our very own National Park, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Following a concerted community effort to clean and preserve the river, the Mississippi is once again home to an extremely diverse ecosystem. Pelicans, herons, egrets, wild turkeys, and many species of birds nest or migrate along the river. You may see a fox hunting along the shoreline, or a playful river otter diving through the water. Even within the heart of the city, it is common to see eagles soaring overhead as you paddle along the river. Rarely does an urban landscape allow for so many opportunities to view wildlife and natural scenery so easily. There is no better way century, to experience nature’s wonders than from the water. The Mississippi River is yours to enjoy and WI will help to navigate it!
2014 Dates Fee Registration
8/16/14  Mississippi River - Voyage of Discovery with Don Shelby $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now
8/23/14  Ghost Towns of the Mississippi $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now
8/30/14  Mississippi River Paddle and Wildlife Tour $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now
9/6/14  Family Fun on the Mississippi River $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now
9/27/14  Mississippi River Fall Colors Tour $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now
10/4/14  Fall Harvest Sunset Dinner Paddle $95 ($47.50 Youth) Register Now
10/11/14  Mississippi River Autumn Blaze Paddle $45 ($30 Youth) Register Now

Transportation

As stated in the Trip at a Glance section, we do three different routes for these trips. To determine the starting and ending places for the trip you are interested in, click on the name of the trip (blue text) above.

Please note: River conditions do change, and we may change our routes accordingly. If we do change the route we will notify you by email or phone.

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Group Trips: More Information & Pricing

Interested in a custom Mississippi River Day trip for your group? We do many trips each year for private groups.

Wilderness Inquiry’s Half-Day Canoe Trips are typically 4-hour excursions on either the Mississippi River or the Chain of Lakes. Captained by a highly trained Wilderness Inquiry Trail Guide, each 24-foot Voyageur canoe can accommodate up to 9 paddlers. We utilize many metro locations for these trips and are ready to deliver a wide variety of curricula and interpretation. Whether an extension of the classroom or a simply a fun outing, our Half-Day Canoe Trips can be custom tailored to meet your group’s specific goals and needs.

We provide all necessary logistics and equipment: paddles, PFDs, safety equipment, and trained boat captains.

Half-Day Canoe Trip Price Schedule:

2 boats = $1,000 (minimum 12 / maximum 18 participants)

3 boats = $1,400 (minimum 19 / maximum 27 participants)

4 boats = $1,500 (minimum 28 / maximum 36 participants)

Each additional participant beyond 36 = $45

We work to keep our trips affordable for everyone; however, financial aid is available for those that need additional assistance. For consideration, please complete and submit one of the following financial aid forms:

Financial Aid for your group:
www.wildernessinquiry.org/aidtoorgs

Financial Aid for individuals and families:
www.wildernessinquiry.org/financialaid

Click any thumbnail to expand and begin slideshow:

  • A still, foggy morning near Hidden Falls along the Mississippi River in autumn.
    The Mississippi River at Hidden Falls in St. Paul. photo by: Lais, G
  • Voyageur canoes coming in to Boom Island Duplicate photo by: Lais, G
  • Two voyageur canoes carry families down the river on a sunny day near East River Flats
    Voyageur canoes are a great way for families to experience the Mississippi together. photo by: Lais, G
  • Six voyageur canoes are dispersed across the river as they paddle under one of the many city bridges.
    Paddling under the Lake Street Bridge. photo by: Lais, G
  • A fleet of voyageur canoes makes a proud site on the open river
    Heading in to downtown St. Paul and Kelley Landing. photo by: Walz, A
  • Fog hangs over the river and clings to the trees on the shores of the Mississippi River on an early autumn morning.
    Misty morning on the Mississippi. photo by: Lais, G
  • Fifteen voyageur canoes paddle the Mississippi River, with a view of not only brightly colored fall trees but also of the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
    See the Twin Cities from a new perspective. photo by: Peterson, B
  • Fall colors pop on the shores of the Mississippi as Wilderness Inquiry trail staff Liz Shirley points out the different varieties.
    Autumn blaze on the Mississippi. photo by: Torstenson, L
  • View of a full voyageur canoe from the Franklin Avenue Bridge.
    Canoeing in a 24 foot voyageur canoe. photo by: Lais, G
  • Participants take a break from paddling WI's canoes down the Mississippi River at the Sand Flats.
    At the Sand Flats below the Lake Street Bridge. A very cool place to hang out! photo by: Bhujle, D
  • Wheelchair on the Mississippi photo by: bertelson, n
  • Group on a river paddles a Voyageur canoe; one participant waves at the camera.
    On our Mississippi River Day Trips, Wilderness Inquiry will provide all the gear you need to stay safe on the water. photo by: Lais, G
  • photo by: Lais, G
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers perform on the banks of the Mississippi River on a WI day trip.
    The Okee Dokee Brothers perform on the banks of the Mississippi River on a WI day trip. photo by: Wenzel, J
  • Paddle the Urban Wilderness with Wilderness Inquiry! photo by: Lais, G

Quick Trip Facts:

  • Experienced WI trail guides
  • 3-4 hour experience
  • 24-foot Voyageur canoes
  • Life jackets, paddles and safety gear
  • Adaptive gear as needed
  • Shuttle by bus
  • Water and snacks
  • Coolers provided
Register Now!