Paddling enthusiasts hope to see an unprecedented number of canoes and kayaks on the Minnesota River on Saturday, June 13 (National Get Outdoors Day). “The goal will be to paddle every navigable river mile of the Minnesota River,” said Alex Watson, a regional naturalist for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division and one of the event’s organizers. “The Minnesota River is 318 miles long, though, so we will need as many paddlers as we can get.”
Participants can paddle a section of the river on their own that day or join one of the following organized paddles that will take place all along the river, from the headwaters at Big Stone Lake State Park in Ortonville to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul:
- Skalbekken County Park to Vicksburg County Park (13 miles or about 5 hours). Limited canoes and kayaks available, or bring your own. o Group leader: Peg Furshong, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Events and Adventures coordinator. o How to register: Call 1-877-269-2873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Memorial Park to Upper Sioux Agency State Park (8 miles or about 2.5 hours). Bring your own canoe or kayak (no wooden canoes). o Group leader: Brian Wojtalewicz, CURE board member. o How to register: Call 1-877-269-2873 or email email@example.com.
- Judson to Land of Memories Park (11.5 miles or about 3 hours). Bring your own canoe or kayak. o Group leader: Brad Nawrocki, Mankato Paddling and Outing Club. o How to register: Call 507-340-4459.
- Mack Lake County Park to Fort Ridgley State Park (8.5 miles or about 5 hours). Limited canoes available, or bring your own canoe or kayak. o Group leader: Scott Kudelka, naturalist, Minneopa State Park. o How to register: Call 507-384-8890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 35W Bridge to downtown St. Paul (email for trip details). Limited canoes available, or bring your own canoe or kayak. o Group leader: Natalie Warren, Wild River Academy. o How to register: Email email@example.com.
- Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge (3 miles or about 4 hours). Bring your own canoe or kayak. o Group leader: Alice Hanley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. o How to register: Call 320-273-2500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watson asks anyone planning to paddle a different section of the river to let him know in advance by sending an email to email@example.com or by leaving a message at 507-359-6062. That will help organizers keep track of which sections of the river are “spoken for,” and which sections are still in need of paddlers. Participants should also email or call at the end of the day on June 13 to confirm how many miles they paddled, along with their put-in and take-out points. For more information, contact the group leaders, visit www.mndnr.gov/riverinaday or call the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.