Recreational Resources

Get connected to the Missouri River through recreation!

There are many ways to connect to the Missouri River, but sometimes the river can be intimidating, and lets face it, it can take a lot of planning to get out there! We want you to be able to explore and enjoy this resource safely too. Everyone deserves to recreate on the Missouri River and we hope these resources will help make sure you are ready for your next hike, paddling adventure or river race.

Did you know that the Missouri River has outstanding sandbars and islands?! Photo by David Owens.

Paddling on the Missouri River

The Missouri River is a special place. You can do day paddles or plan multiple days and nights on the river. Below are resources to help you prepare for your paddle trip and things to consider before you get on the river:

  • Introduction to paddling the Missouri River - This video of the Big Muddy Speaker Series Presentation by Linda Coffman covers appropriate watercraft and gear, safety precautions, ideas for planning trips, tips on reading the water features, and a brief discussion on appreciating the river’s beauty, wildlife, history and lore.
  • Missouri's boat accesses to the Missouri River - There are a lot of accesses available to you! Knowing where you are putting in and taking out is an important part of prepping for your trip. This google map includes a pin to accesses along the Missouri's reach of the river, along with accesses on tributaries that meet the Missouri River.
    • Distances between river access - knowing the distance between accesses is important in knowing how long you will be on the river! Here is a helpful graph with the distances between popular accesses from Kansas City, MO to St. Louis, MO.
  • River Levels and Conditions - Here is a page with numerous resources to help you plan for your time on the Missouri River.
  • Canoe Safety - There are a handful of hazards you could experience on the Missouri River, get to know them!
  • Water Trail Map - This is a great resource for more information on the accesses in the lower Missouri River.
California Island, 2020. Located at mile marker 177 on the Missouri River. Photo by Brandon Knoblauch.

Helpful questions to ask yourself when thinking about your trip:

  • How many miles will I be paddling?
  • How many days will I be on the river?
  • What does the weather and wind speed/direction look like on the days I will be on the river?
  • Will I be on the river at night?
  • Will I be camping ON the river?
  • What resources are available at the accesses within my route?
  • Am I able to secure all my gear onto my vessel?
  • Do I have a shuttle set up or a way to retrieve my vehicle?


After planning the logistics for your trip, you are now ready to think about what you're bringing with you. Below is a list of items you should have with you for any river trip duration. 

  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD) - Wear your life jacket at all times!
  • Cell Phone with Extra Battery Life 
  • Navigation Lights (required at night)
  • Missouri River Maps
  • Strong Flashlight
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Emergency Mylar Blanket
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Food and Water

Other helpful gear:

  • Extra Paddle 
  • Rain Gear/Extra Set of Dry Clothes
  • Small Flashlight or Chem Light
  • Reflective Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Good Footwear
  • Toilet Kit
  • Tent
  • Rope Suitable for Towing
  • Bed Roll
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Hat & Sunglasses
  • Cash
The Manitou Bluffs are one of the most scenic areas of the Lower Missouri River. Photo by Sabrina Davenport.

Challenge yourself to race on the river!

Competitive? Sign up for a river race! Click each logo to learn more.

Not quite ready to paddle the Big Muddy? 

There is so much to do around the Missouri River! Below are just a handful of ways to connect yourself to this magnificent resource and spend some time outdoors without physically getting on the river. From fishing off the banks, biking alongside the river, or just simply enjoying the view, the areas listed below have plenty of recreational opportunities for you to explore.

The Katy Trail - At 240 miles long, this trail runs between Clinton and Machens and has 26 trailheads. Starting in Boonville, The Katy Trail runs along the Missouri River. Check out the link to learn more about this historical Missouri trail.

Big Muddy Notional Fish and Wildlife Refuge - This refuge has 18 units available for free to the public, with almost 20,000 acres of wildlife habitat along the lower Missouri River. Click the link to learn more and visit one of the refuge units closest to you.

Conservation Areas - The Missouri Department of Conservation manages the majority of the accesses to the Missouri River, and have many conservation areas across the state. Use this search to find areas near you, and be sure to use the advanced search option to fine-tune your search.

Missouri River Towns - There are many historic towns along the Missouri River. The link provided highlights some of these towns that you should consider visiting. Here is a quick link to all the Missouri towns along the Big Muddy. 

  • Students enjoying a nature walk on the Katy Trail during our 2022 Missouri River Days program. Photo by Claire Jackson.
  • Enjoy the scenic views of the Missouri River from any conservation areas or wildlife refuges! Photo by Kevin Tosie.
  • Make your way to Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access for a great view of the capital and great areas to fish! Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

Other MRR Recreational Opportunities

Other than our Missouri River races, we have a couple of other opportunities for you to get out on the water with us:

Big Muddy Boat Rides - In the warmer months of the year, we provide 2-hour motorboat excursions on the Missouri River starting from Cooper's Landing. Click the link to learn more about this opportunity and register through Columbia Parks and Recreation. 

Catfishing Gear Library - Whether you're new to fishing, haven't been since childhood, or have always been curious about fishing at the River - borrow everything you need for a fishing adventure with our FREE Catfishing Gear Library in Columbia, Missouri!

Cleanups - Missouri River Relief executes two spring and two fall large-scale cleanups annually. Registered volunteers join us for a day of stewardship. Click the link to learn more about what our cleanups look like, then check out our upcoming cleanup schedule to get registered.


See you on the river! #SYOTR

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This website is created and maintained by Missouri River Relief, P.O. Box 463, Columbia, MO 65205
MRR is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN) 03-0425187
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