General Safety Guidelines

The lower Missouri River is really not an appropriate place to learn to canoe or kayak for the first time. Learning basic paddling skills is best done on sheltered waters and under the guidance of an experienced paddler.  The Missouri River is a very large and powerful river, with significant changes in both river level and paddling conditions. As a result the River can present some special challenges for any paddler. Some observations on the unique aspects of the River are provided in this section.

A boating safety on the Lower Missouri River brochure was produced during the Lewis and Clark bicentennial by the Missouri Lewis and Clark Public Safety Planning Committee. Reviewing this document prior to planning a trip is a good start to a successful and enjoyable Missouri River experience.  The American Canoe Association (ACA) also provides a list of safety tips that is well worth reading.

The best way to get on the Missouri River for the first time is to accompany a paddler who is familiar with the river or with an organized group or guide service. You are always responsible for your own safety when boating. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the challenges presented by the Missouri River.

Group of paddlers on the river

Respect the River…it is far more powerful than you are!