If you’ve ever dreamed of canoeing down the Mississippi, this is your chance

Photography provided by Big Muddy Adventures.

Anyone who grew up reading the stories of Mark Twain has probably had at least a fleeting fantasy of floating the mighty Mississippi River. It remains a daydream for most given the intimidation factor of the continent’s largest river, especially in populated areas where cargo barges lumber by.

Last fall, though, I found myself paddling the Mississippi in the shadow of the Gateway Arch thanks to Big Muddy Adventures (2muddy.com). In summer months, the St. Louis outfitter and guide offers twice-weekly paddle tours of the downtown riverfront for $75. The tour is geared toward novice paddlers (Big Muddy also has itineraries for serious river rats), starting at the landmark Chain of Rocks Bridge and going with the flow past four more bridges before ending at the Arch. Big Muddy’s canoes are large and stable, with room for paddlers to sit side-by-side, and there’s a guide in the back to steer you away from any hazards you might encounter.

My abbreviated version of the tour included a brief moment of terror caused by a massive Asian carp, which leapt over my legs and the full width of our canoe—making for a memory as indelible as Tom and Huck’s adventures.

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