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Expeditions - Tributaries

Chose a tributary and we’ll guide you on a unique journey, a passage out of a relatively narrow southern river into the wide expanse of the mother river! From the small to the big, the particular to the universal, the close-up to the far-out. The Mississippi River is made of other rivers, creeks, streams, coulees and arroyos. Ever wonder where all of that water comes from? What kinds of animals live there? What its like to paddle down a river whose height is governed by a bigger river, the 50 foot vertical fluctuation governing it like a powerful tidal stream?

Enter the Mississippi floodplain paddling down one of its many tributaries. Put in upstream the tributary, paddle to the mouth, take out downstream the Mississippi. There is no better way to get a broad perspective of the many dynamic ecosystems in the Lower Mississippi River basin, from Loess bluff drainages to wetlands to main channel. Trip length flexible, from one day to a week. Some classics include:

  1. Bayou du Chien confluences at the quintessential river town, Hickman Kentucky.
  2. Obion Riverthrough Moss Island State Wildlife Management Area
  3. Forked Deer River through Moss Island State Wildlife Management Area
  4. Forked Deer River through Chickasaw Nat’l Wildlife Refuge
  5. Hatchie River through Lower Hatchie Nat’l Wildlife Refuge – highly recommended! Return to the Mississippi and paddle past the spectacular 2nd Chickasaw Bluff at Richardson’s.
  6. Loosahatchie River – wilderness within the greater Memphis city limits.
  7. Wolf River – traverses the entirety of Memphis from Germantown to Harbor Town – but you won’t know you’re in the city! Put in several days upstream and paddle through the phantasmagoric “Ghost River” section. Along the way you will descend through four distinct ecosystems. Take out on the cobblestones at the foot of Beale Street.
  8. St. Francis River enter the Mississippi through St. Francis Nat’l Forest at the base of Crowley’s Ridge, the high land that once separated the Mississippi from the Ohio. Drains the northeastern Arkansas Delta with headwaters in the Missouri Ozarks.
  9. White River through White River Nat’l Wildlife Refuge. Drains Big Swamp and the forests the Cache River – mid-Arkansas wildlands where the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was recently sighted after a 70 year hideout. Great birding. Great fishing. Richest concentration of wildlife in mid-south.
  10. Arkansas River – more bears than fishermen! (Louisiana Black Bear) No tugboats! No bank stabilization or revetment! Perhaps the wildest paddling in the entire mid-south, the last 45 miles of the Arkansas River convulse through ancient forests and wetlands, the channel changes from year to year with each flood, the map-makers can’t keep up with it. One week required for this. Add 15 miles for exploring back channels and nearby oxbows, some of which make a mid-continental ocean during highwater. Put in below last dam on the Arkansas and take out in Greenville after paddling 40 miles of the main channel of the Mississippi. 100 miles of forests and wild rivers!
  11. Yazoo River the river of Death. Explore the strange muddy landscapes of the Lower Mississippi Delta. Through Delta National Forest, the largest bottomland hardwood forest in the continental United States. With connections to the Big Sunflower River. 1 day to a week. Take out at the foot of Clay Street in downtown Vicksburg.
  12. The Big Black River cuts through wetlands bounded by Loess bluffs – alligators sunning themselves on widespread sandbars. Enter the Mississippi at Grand Gulf after descending through various layers of forest and habitat.
  13. Bayou Pierre expansive swampland floodplain below the Natchez Trace. Put in near Port Gibson “the town to beautiful to burn” and take-out at Natchez.
  14. Coles Creek a step back in time, after a few days on this remote river you will forget what century you are in!
  15. St. Catherine’s Creek through the Grand Village of the Natchez
  16. Homochitto River through St. Catherine Creek Nat’l Wildlife Refuge
  17. Bayou Sara – explore the wetlands that inspired John James Audubon, who found artistic refuge at take-out St. Francisville, Louisiana.
  18. Thompson’s Creek – our southernmost tributary, regaled with Louisiana Bald Cypress, Spanish Moss and Alligators.
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