The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

About Us

What is the Rivergator?

The Rivergator website describes the 1100 mile trail of free-flowing water between St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the first river guide written for paddlers on the Lower Mississippi River and will include beautiful photos, exciting text, and very-helpful and easy-to-read google maps.  Made public June 1, 2012, the Rivergator will be under construction for the next year or until the entire trail is complete.


Who is the Rivergator written for?

The River-Gator is written for canoeists, kayakers and stand-up-paddleboarders -- and anyone else plying the waters of the Lower Mississippi River in human-powered craft. 


Who is the Rivergator written by?

John Ruskey
John Ruskey

The Rivergator was written by John Ruskey who has been paddling, photographing, and documenting the islands, landings and channels of the Lower Mississippi River since 1982. A host of river experts have been reviewing and editing content including outdoor author Ernest Herndon (Canoeing Mississippi, Canoeing Louisiana), biologists Paul Hartfield (USFW), Cliff Ochs (Ole Miss), naturalist/painter Robin Whitfield (Grenada), historian Kevin Smith (Helena), canoe builder Bubba Battle (Tunica), Outdoor Ed. leader Todd Davis (Delta State U), naturalist Foster Dickard (Miss Water Trails), wildlife consultant Tommy Shropshire (Terry), naturalist James Cummins, environmentalist Hart Henson and kayaker Jason Gorski. John Moore is designing & hosting website. Project coordinated through Ron Nassar, the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee. The Rivergator website is made possible with a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, which believes in “conservationomics”: lasting solutions that make sense for the economy and the environment.

Click here for complete Panel of Experts:


I am hoping to share the secrets for safe paddling on this often mysterious and confusing waterway -- and at the same time dispel some of the myths about paddling the Big River.


Is it Safe?

While the Mississippi River presents many challenges for paddlers, when properly approached by knowledgable paddlers with the right equipment it can be the amongst most rewarding paddling in North America.  Paddling on the Lower Mississippi River involves: 1) advanced paddling experience, 2) good preparation, 3) The Right Vessel and 4) the right equipment.


Note on title:

The name "Rivergator" is inspired by the best seller The Navigator first published in 1801 by Zadok Cramer.  Mr. Cramer is the same guy who numbered the islands and installed the nomenclature system that we still use today.



Initially appearing as website covering 100+ miles of the 1100 mile trail (the free-flowing water between St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico), additional 100+ mile sections will be added on until the entire trail is carefully documented for paddlers with photos, text, and maps (and eventually video & sound clips).  The website address is  Text, photos and maps will eventually be published hard copy as the "Rivergator: the Paddler's Guide to the Middle & Lower Mississippi River."