The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


Panel of Experts:

All writing is reviewed by a panel of paddlers, naturalists and other river experts including (for this section) Bruce Van Wyngarden, big river pilot and founding editor of The Memphis Flyer;  Joe Royer, pioneering Memphis kayaker and founder of Outdoors Inc.;  Dale Sanders, big river kayaker and adventurer extraordinaire;  Beth Wiedower, Arkansas Rural Delta Heritage Initiative, Terry Eastin, Director of the Mississippi River Trail;  Colton Cockrum, river canoeist and founder of the Memphis River Warriors;  Bayard Morgan, canoeist and river advocate;  Bubba Battle, canoe builder and paddler; Rick Howe, structural engineer, river rat; Julia Malinowski, Helena Tourism Director; Kevin Smith, historian and big river paddler; Bill Branch, curator Delta Cultural Center; Peggy Linton, Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi; Larry Jerrett Canoeist, river advocate; Kevin Pierson, National Audubon Society Lower Mississippi Program; Ernest Herndon, canoeist, author of Canoeing Mississippi and also Canoeing Louisiana, Paul Hartfield, biologist, pilot, big river expert; Mark River Peoples, big river guide, Chris “Wolfie” Staudinger, big river guide, and Braxton Barden, big river guide and mariner.  I, John Ruskey, am primary author.  I have been taking notes, photographs and documenting the river since my first raft trip down the Mississippi in 1982, and so the Rivergator is the culmination of 30 years of exploration.  I have paddled the Mississippi on anything that floats including a log.  To verify all information I have been making “refresher expeditions,” (I last paddled this section with a team of explorers during the June rise, 2013).  I’ll try to keep myself out of it as much as possible, and let the river speak for herself.  But I’ll also spice the journey with stories and vignettes from my adventures along the way, and others who have first-hand experience.  Other important Rivergator sources include the National Weather Service “Lower Mississippi River Gauge and Week Forecast,” the US Army Corps 2007 Flood Control and Navigation Maps: Mississippi River, Google Maps Satellite View, Marion Braggs’ Historic Names and Places on the Lower Mississippi River, Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi,, The Tennessee Valley Authority, The City of Memphis, The Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man, Wikipedia, Quapaw Canoe Company and Wild Miles.  See “Sources” for complete listing and suggestions for further reading.


Wild Miles:

The wonderful thing about the Lower Miss is that it’s still wild!  You will see some industry and agriculture between Memphis and Helena, but for the most part your experience will be big water, big forests, big sandbars, big bluffs and big skies!  Does this sound like Alaska?  Or Lake Superior?  Or Puget Sound?  Yes -- but it’s not.  It’s nothing but the muddy big river, the biggest river in North America, and the longest stretch of free-flowing waters in the Lower 48. 


In this section the wild places include Mile 725 to 664, 61 Wild Miles from below Memphis Harbor to above Helena Note: Tunica RiverPark & Museum, Buck Island protected public-use island. Some casinos can be seen with their right night lights. The lights of Memphis are dimly seen along northern horizon. Casino section Mile 708-695 might need to be removed from Wild Miles.