Canoeing and camping in the city?

nature in our own backyard
nature in our own backyardCourtesy DigNature
The other day I was invited to take a canoe trip down the Mississippi River, where I saw all kinds of wildlife, including a prehistoric-looking heron, and lots of other birds. I also saw really cool bridges from the underside, and got an up-close look at a gigantic river barge.

The best part about it? I didn't even need to leave the city, I just rode my bike to a park in St.Paul and a few minutes later I was out on the water.

This trip was part of a new program that Wilderness Inquiry and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area are sponsoring to get city folks like me (and you?) out on the river. It's called the Urban Wilderness Canoe Area or UWCA, and the group organizing these trips hope to take 10,000 middle and high-school students on river trips. Some will even include overnight camping in St.Paul.

Besides being a really fun trip, I was able to see (and put my hands into) the place where my drinking water comes from, and where the run-off from my city street goes to.

While the water did look and smell better than I would have imagined, I did see all kinds of disgusting trash, some of which had made its way into the branches of nearby trees and bushes. I saw fast food containers, plastic toys, grocery bags and lots of cigarette butts. It's easy to forget that this stuff all ends up somewhere, and often times in waterways like the Mississippi, which eventually end up in our oceans. Even my short river trip was a great reminder of this.

Have any Buzz readers been canoeing or hiking along the Mississippi, or camping near the city? What did you see?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

A couple summers ago a buddy an I hiked along the south bank of the River from the dog park (which is a fun experience to visit in and of itself) up to the Ford Dam Lock and into Minnehaha Park. I was amazed at the variety of rocks we found in just that short stretch of river and at all the human trash scattered along the way, some in the most hard to get to spots. But it was still a great wilderness hike, when less than a mile away you had a major international airport, freeways and shopping centers.

posted on Fri, 05/08/2009 - 9:18am

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