|Mississippi at Lake Itasca|
In a low water year things become more difficult and in the record drought year we paddled in some stretches of the river become outright difficult with shallow rapids almost every mile. Although not life threatening getting in and out of the boat to walk through or around them is very time consuming and annoying. And in a foldable kayak you always run the risk of getting a hole when hitting a rock. But I want to emphasize that the conditions we encountered were very unusual and paddlers should normally have a very smooth run.
What is the best time to go? We started our trip 29th of September and this was definitely too late in the year. I would still recommend paddling in fall because of two reasons: There are very little or no bugs in fall and the fall colors are absolutely spectacular. I recommend starting in the first half of September.
How long will it take? It took us 3 weeks and one day to get from Lake Bemidji to downtown Minneapolis including one full and one half rest day. Keep in mind that we had to deal with relatively little daylight and low water issues. Other paddlers have done the same stretch in 16 days, but I would still suggest to plan for 3 weeks.
|Power company dam|
Our next resupply stop was Aitkin which is the perfect town stop for paddlers. There is a nice free campground right on the river within walking distance of Aitkin. Within 20 minutes you can get to the great Roadside diner or fastfood places. A bit out of town you will find the laundromat with a hotel and showers opposite. Unfortunately the supermarket is outside town and it will take you more than half an hour walking to get there.
Our next resupply was Sartell where the Coburn supermarket is only one block from the river. Although there is no official dock, it is possible to beach there and walk over to the supermarket.
Monticello has a nice public park with a picknick shelter and public toilets next to the boat access and a big drugsture is right next to the park.
You can paddle right through downtown Minneapolis. We took our kayaks out at Boom Island Park boat access which is a nice park with toilets and shelters right in the centre of Minneapolis.