Kayaking the Missouri River near Bismarck



had the opportunity to kayak on a beautiful stretch of the Missouri River south of Bismarck. It was one of the most relaxing and beautiful nights I had this summer! Seeing the Missouri from a kayak is a very unique experience. The sound of a paddle dipping into the clear, cool water rushing under the boat lulls you into a trance. The songs of birds, an occasional splash of jumping fish and the breeze fluttering the waxy leaves of the giant cottonwood trees add to the beauty of the mighty Missouri. To our surprise, the river south of Bismarck/Mandan felt nearly untouched by our modern world, as it was very peaceful. We truly felt like we were kayaking in a wilderness of cottonwoods far from civilization. After hours on the river, we hadn’t see another boat.  

If you want to have experience like I did paddling down the Missouri River, a few places from which to launch include Misty Waters, Grant Marsh Bridge and Fox Island. Pick-up points include Little Heart (Schmidt) Bottoms, Kimball Bottoms (The Desert) and MacLean Bottoms. The river does have a fairly brisk current. We chose to paddle with the current so it made for an easier, more leisurely trip. I would recommend paddling with the current by dropping a vehicle off down river, or using a rental and shuttle service like Missouri River Kayak Rentals or Mighty Missouri Kayaks to drop you off and pick you up. Paddle On is another rental option.

Canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding have become some of the fastest growing activities in North Dakota’s great outdoors. Canoe and kayak rentals are available across the state. Be sure to check out the state parks, as many often rent equipment. North Dakota has many diverse waters to enjoy. Add these great spots to your list: Sheyenne River near Fort Ransom; Red River in Fargo or Grand Forks; Pembina River by Walhalla (which happens to be the only whitewater found in North Dakota. At certain times of the year, the river’s drop upstream creates Class I rapids.) For scenic paddling, head to the Little Missouri near Medora when the flows are high enough. Check www.NDTourism.com for some other great ideas about places to paddle.