Is it safe to paddle on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers?

This is the number one question asked. The response is absolutely and without reservation–Yes it is safe. (!) for those who are taking a professionally guided and outfitted trip or who have advanced paddling skills and big moving water experience. We do not advise anyone without advanced paddler level skills to attempt a self-guided trip.

The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are the largest moving bodies of water on our side of the Earth. They are inherently dangerous due to their size, the fluctuation of water levels and the presence of various forms of challenging navigation hazards. Conditions are always changing both in terms of water conditions and weather. We believe that when done using the proper boats, gear and experience the risks are worth the great rewards. We measure risk well and communicate it. Our safety record is spotless.

BMA is proud of our expertise at guiding and outfitting on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. We have helped pioneer the understanding and practice of the techniques that enable safe paddling on the Great Rivers. Our experience has taught us a lot, and our guides and staff are dedicated to the Safety First policy we strictly and faithfully adhere to. We make all decisions with safety as the primary focus. From the planning process, at the beginning, to the take out at the end, we follow a system that works well. Each trip is customized to meet the conditions and the experience of our paddling clients.

BMA’s cancellation policy reflects our commitment to safety first, “We go only if it is safe.”

BMA requires state-of-the-art training in both self rescue and multi boat rescue. We provide our guides with First Aid training and certificates. We choose our boats and our gear with regard to their high standard of quality and our personal experience using them. BMA, in collaboration with our affiliate Quapaw Canoe Company, offers workshops on paddling safety, self rescue and team rescue. Contact usif you would like to participate in one of our annually scheduled training events.

It is good to remember that people have been paddling these rivers for thousands of years. A body of knowledge has been passed on and adapted as the modern river has taken shape via human infrastructure and commercial navigation. Learning from and about the past and the traditions of great explorers and adventurers is part of the joy and treasure of the paddling experience.

Quapaw Canoe Company has produced a fantastic guide offering a full explanation on safety and river conditions, see

Why choose Big Muddy Adventures?

Choosing a river trip on the Mississippi or Missouri River is one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. BMA has fifteen years of experience and is the only professional guiding and outfitting operation that can make that happen on the Lower Missouri and the Middle Mississippi. You do not need any paddling experience to join us on a trip. We customize each and every trip to meet your needs. The variety of options and opportunities makes us the go-to specialists on the Big Muddy.

Our guides and staff truly love all things about our Great Rivers. Paddling on these rivers is our passion. We come to this with a myriad of life experiences. We are teachers, river stewards, historians, artists, musicians, cooks, storytellers and above all great paddlers. Our goal is to mix our knowledge and talent with your desire to have fun, enjoy a world class experience, satisfy your curiosity and provide great food and entertainment. We have made partnerships with professionals and the best providers in the region regarding river advocacy, gourmet food and entertainment. Regardless of conditions, we know that “River Time”, as we call it, is always exciting and new and fun!