Whether your paddling a kayak down a crystal clear Ozark stream, watching birds from a canoe near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, or paddling a paddleboard across Creve Coeur Lark at Sunset, St. Louis offers an abundance of wonderful ways to enjoy life on the water. Some of our favorite destinations include the nearby, but ideal lower Meramec River, the crystal clear Huzzah creek, and Ellis Bay by the Audubon Center at Riverlands for spectacular birding.
- Lots of beautiful rivers and lakes with clean water and easy access
- Being at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri which act as natural migratory paths for birds, the St. Louis area has amazing birdwatching opportunities throughout the year.
- A variety of great groups with people who share a passion for the water, they make it easy to meet other paddling enthusiasts (see the links section).
- Southern Illinois wetlands provide wonderful opportunities for birding and hunting.
- Plenty of spectacular places to catch a sunset from the water
- Very little whitewater and no whitewater that is runnable year round. The St. Francis River is the only river that provides consistent whitewater paddling but generally only in the Spring and Winter (for the die-hards).
- The rivers close to St. Louis tend to share a common color, brown. The Mississippi isn’t called The Big Muddy for nothing. Run-off from upstream farmlands and other sources of silt give our big rivers their consistent sheen. The water quality/safety is actually quite good due to the sheer volume.
- Too many of the creeks in the area have E. Coli warnings due to our history of having our Sewer and Storm Run-off lines merged into one. The result being that sometimes heavy rains can cause more water to flow than the treatment plants can handle and they are forced to dump untreated water into the rivers and creeks. Many billions of dollars are currently being spent by MSD to fix this but it’ll be several years before it is complete. But it is getting better.
- Missouri Canoe & Floaters Association – Mile by mile maps of all Missouri rivers
- Missouri Whitewater Association (MWA) –
- FLLOG – A blog from a guy that does and blogs about a whole lot of paddling in the Ozarks.
- St. Louis Canoe and Kayak Club – A nice organization that has fairly frequent group paddles all over the state. Great place to find paddling enthusiasts and other people to paddle with.
- Big Muddy Adventures – Paddle the mighty Mississippi in a big canoe and enjoy a good meal while you are at it.
We are blessed with a great variety of bodies of water to paddle not far from St. Louis, from big rivers, to lakes, to Ozark streams, there is so much beauty to explore and fun to be had.
Kayak, Canoe, and Paddle Board Rentals
Looking for a place where you can rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle board in the St. Louis region? Below we’ve listed the options we are aware of. Know of other options, please let us know.
St. Louis area
- Creve Coeur Lake – A great place to rent a kayak or paddle board for a sunset paddle. Only open during the summer.
- St. Charles County Paddleshare Rental – Kayaks and Paddleboards available at some parks in St. Charles. See site for availability.
- Forest Park Boathouse – Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and paddle boats available for exploring Forest Park from the water.
- Lakeside 370 park – Good for beginners trying out kayaking for the first time. On a calm 130 acre lake in St. Peters.
Bonus: An excellent article from StlToday.com on paddling opportunies in and around St. Louis including more info on several of these places.
Ozarks -Steelville area
- Bass River Resort
- Huzzah Valley Resort – This is our preferred outfitter in the Steeleville area. Good equipment, good facilities, efficient staff. We’ve always had a good experience here. They also have a huge campground that caters to different preferences (families vs. partying) all right on the Huzzah Creek. Our two favorite 6 mile floats either start or end right at the resort.
- Ozark Outdoors
- Cuivre River State Park – Learn all about Cuivre River State Park and Lake Lincoln
- Mark Twain Lake
- Cache Bayou Outfitters – Canoe Rentals on an amazing bayou in Southern Illinois that will make you think you’ve been transported to Louisiana or the Everglades. A 2.5 hour drive.