As an Iowa boy, born and raised on the Mississippi River it is only fitting that after 4 years of being around or on the Missouri River that I can call it my second river home. Working in the paddling industry I talk to many people every week about area rivers and what rivers folks like to paddle and they ask me my favorite rivers to paddle. Working in a Kayak shop in Southern Missouri everyone would think I would pick a favorite river down here. I do believe that Missouri and Arkansas have some of the most beautiful rivers on earth, we are very lucky to have these rivers all around us. But, when I tell folks that I paddle the Missouri River and Mississippi river some people say “Eww” or “hope you got your tetnis shot”. They look at the Missouri river as some brown, nasty dirty ugly river that barges use to haul shit. It’s true that it is brown, and by dirt yes, it is dirty, as in sand and mud. It is not the Buffalo or 11 Point where crystal clear cool water runs over a rainbow of river gravel. The Missouri is a different beauty.
For people that have never actually paddled the Missouri river have probably only ever gone over a bridge on
The other beauty that the Missouri River offers that most people don’t get a chance to see or experience is the POWER. After the Oahe Dam in South Dakota the Missouri River runs pretty uncontrolled. The sheer power that river holds is beyond breathtaking. It can be scary when your actually on the river in a Canoe, Kayak or Paddleboard. All of a sudden you are this little speck on this powerhouse of a river. But, if you open yourself up to the power of the Missouri River you will feel this amazing energy it produces.
I have paddled the Missouri River at 1,2,3,4am and under a full moon, it almost gives you chills because if you know even a small amount of the history of the river and how it and the Mississippi were the lifeblood of the midwest it makes your mind race with pure awesome. Some people have looked at me like I am some extreme tree hugging hippie but, some people can’t understand this powerful beauty until they experience it for themselves.
Finally and most importantly is, the People. I have had the honor of meeting some of the coolest paddlers from all over the Midwest on our rivers in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. The love they have for the rivers they enjoy make me smile. However, personally to me, The people on the Missouri River are some of the most humble and loving people. I am not talking a paddler here, a fisherman their, I am talking WHOLE TOWNS. When townspeople hear about a source to sea paddler or an event involving paddlers ie.. MR340 they come out in droves to see, help and support paddlers. For example, Chamois Missouri, a tiny river town with a huge heart. We have had two events where we have finished at the Chamois access and when we get to the park the locals come out and give you a beer, help you load your boats, give you good laughs and great stories and generally welcome you to their town they proper “River Angel” way. Another example is Coopers Landing in Columbia Missouri. A cool campground the is divided in two by the Katy Bike trail. Coopers is a campground, Thai Restaurant, general store and a little gas dock. They are also know to have some of the best cuban “Sammiches” this side of Cuba. Its a campground and art gallery full of colorful vibrant people, music and love. Event the outhouse is awesome. These are just a couple examples of the life on the Missouri River, it’s the people that give the Missouri River most of it’s beauty. Wilson’s Serenity Point in Jefferson City “State Capital” was build by one man and years of people volunteering to help him make a beautiful park on the banks of the Missouri. WSP as it’s also called is a Mecca for paddlers, paddling down the Missouri River. I person could write a series of books just on the people and towns on the Missouri River.
So when people say the Missouri is this ugly dirty river they clearly have never experienced the full power, people and beauty the river has to offer, Between the Bridges.