Two of the longest and most celebrated rivers in the country are literally in the backyard of St. Charles County residents – the Mississippi and Missouri.
The county’s story is profoundly influenced by both rivers, whether it’s the historical connection to early businesses and residents in the area to current-day recreational use for boating, fishing and other pursuits.
The Mississippi, which stretches 2,320 miles north to south from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, is the primary source of drinking water for the region. Its role in the history of the U.S. is well chronicled, from its early exploration to its status as a major transportation artery.
The Missouri River, a tributary to the Mississippi, winds across 530,000 square miles in North America, from the Rocky Mountains east to the basin of the Mississippi.
The primary water-focused activity is fishing. The Missouri River is known for its catfish, but there are many others that can be hauled in to make for a productive day on the water.
For a more strenuous activity, you can try the Missouri American Water MR340, which is the world’s longest non-stop canoe and kayak race. The event, which takes place in July, is a 340-mile journey across the state, from Kansas City to St. Charles. Participants are allowed 88 hours to complete the course.
If a shorter trip is more your style, check out Missouri River Excursions in Defiance. It offers canoe, kayak, or large-raft rentals for those looking to float the Missouri River on half- or full-day trips.
To provide easy access to each river, the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department has free boat ramps off the Missouri River at Klondike Park in Augusta and off the Mississippi River at Hideaway Harbor Park in Portage des Sioux. The City of St. Charles Parks & Recreation Department also provides boat access at Blanchette Landing in DuSable Park.
The Mississippi is home to a wide array of fish and wildlife and is a major migratory flyway for many birds. Located at Confluence Point State Park is the 4,300-acre Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, which offers hunting, fishing, hiking, biking and bird-watching.
Boating and yachting are big here, as evidenced by the number of marinas. The river’s island beaches create a picturesque setting where recreational boaters often throw parties.
The Yacht Club of St. Louis sits on the Dardenne Slough. Members enjoy a private pool, two dining rooms, a riverside patio and live music. Further downstream, Palisades Marina & Yacht Club is a public boating and social club in Portage Des Sioux. The shrine to Our Lady of the Rivers can be seen downstream. In addition, John’s Boat Harbor is a full-service marina offering docking, dry storage, repairs and more.