Boating the Mississippi

Boating on the Mississippi River

Boating on the Mississippi River can be an great way to spend the day. River rats, weekend boaters, families on picnics, commercial and sport fishermen, and commercial towboats all share the river. It can however become a crowded place and if you have never ventured out on to the river before it can be quite an experience. The number of miles you can travel seems endless but also endless is the number of lessons and rules to be learned when navigating on the Mississippi River. Whether you plan on cruising the river on a houseboat, yacht, or kayak we hope this site helps you get started.  Here are some things to keep in mind for a safe trip on the mighty Mississippi.

  • Always wear a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when you are in or around water.  Unexpected holes and currents in the river have drowned even strong swimmers.  The U.S. Coast Guard requires children under age 13 to wear a PFD while in a boat. 
  • Avoid commercial towboats!  It may take up to a mile and a half to stop a towboat.  If a swimmer, skier or disabled boat in the water is in front of a tow, they are in immediate danger.

  • Respect others.  You should never run at high speeds close to swimmers, around boats at anchor or boats going at no wake speed. 

  • Be sure you have clear sight.  Collision is a major contributor to death in boating accidents.

  • Honor restricted areas.  Above dams on the river there is a 600 foot restricted area and below the dams a 150-foot restricted area.

  • Carry a set of navigation charts.  They can be purchased at the Mississippi River Visitor Center or by calling (309) 794-5338.

  • Take a safe boating course!  Call your local field station, the Visitor Center or your state's Department of Natural Resource office to find a class.

Auxiliary Lock Info

Auxiliary Lock at LD 15: Open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Auxiliary Lock at LD 14: Open 4:00 - 10:00 PM Friday and 12:00 - 10:00 PM Sat & Sun from Memorial Day - Labor Day.