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Clear Waters Outfitting Review of Kayaking the Mississippi River

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Kayaking the Mississippi River is easy to do with a rental from Clear Waters Outfitting!  Rent a single or tandem kayak and enjoy a day on the Mississippi River in Central Minnesota.

Address: 100 Pine Street, P.O. Box 398, Clearwater, MN 55320
Phone: (320) 558-8123
Operating Hours: 

  • Monday: By Appointment
  • Tuesday: By Appointment
  • Wednesday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Friday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Sunday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Website:  Clear Waters Outfitting
Rental Options:  Tandem Canoe, Tandem Kayak, Solo Kayak, Sup Board, Shuttle Only, Multi-Day Trips, Kayak Fishing
Trip Lengths: 5 Miles, 8 Miles, 13 Miles and 15 Miles
Cost: $31.00 – $47.00 per person, depending on trip
Bathrooms: Flush Toilets

Several years ago my husband and I wanted to do something different to celebrate our anniversary.  My in-laws watched the kids and we took off on an 8 mile kayak adventure down the Mississippi River. 

The experience was relaxing, fun, adventuresome and overall something we’ve talked about every year since.  Now a few years later, our two oldest kids are old enough to join us on a tandem kayaking trip and so we brought them on a 5 mile trip down the Mississippi river.

We live in the heart of St. Cloud – no where near a river or lake.  And thus do not have our own kayaks.  Because of this, renting is a must for our family to have a fun outing.  This is where Clear Waters Outfitting saves the day.

Clear Waters Outfitting, also known as CW Outfitting, in Clearwater, MN rents a variety of equipment and also provides the shuttle for anyone looking to add a little adventure to their life! 

They offer a variety of rentals such as canoes, tandem canoes, kayaks, tandem kayaks, SUP boards, kayak fishing trips, classes and more!  

They also offer shuttle services for those who have their own equipment but need a ride back to their car!

The Rental Experience:

Renting from CW Outfitters is easy.  

First you’ll want to call up and schedule your trip.  If you aren’t sure how long you want your trip to be, the staff is knowledgeable and can help you choose a length that is right for you.  Our first trip was 8 miles and our second was 5 miles. 

However, how long each trip takes is 100% up to you.  Do you paddle a lot or let the current carry you down the river?  Do you stop off to explore an island and eat a picnic or spend a chunk of time fishing the river?  Are you going with friends or by yourself?  All of these are factors that will affect how long the trip takes. 

Once you book your trip, then pray for good weather!  If you’re lucky enough to get it then you’ll want to show up at your designated time and check in at the main desk in the shop.  This is the building on the right when you park.  Here you’ll fill out a release form on the computer, drop off your keys (no one wants to lose those down the river!) and pay for your trip.

Feel free to look around as they sell snacks and gear as well.  However you can bring your own snacks and gear as well, so don’t feel pressured to purchase anything.

Once you’ve paid, someone will escort you to the building on the left.  This is where you’ll be impressed with the selection of kayaks, canoes and SUP boards they have.  You’ll also have to endure a painfully out of date (and slightly redundant) film on water safety. 

However, don’t worry, it’s not too long.  Once the movie is over it’s time to have fun!  From start to finish the entire check in and movie process takes about 20 or so minutes.  

Now it’s time to get fitted for a life jacket (required) and grab your paddles.  If you’re doing the 8 mile trip, you’ll start right there at CW Outfitting.  However if you are doing a 5, 13 or 15 mile trip, you’ll jump into the van and be shuttled to your start destination.  

The drive is highly experienced with driving the van and trailer which shows with his whipping around corners and driving down bumpy dirt roads.  Don’t panic.  He or she will know the routes and how to handle the trailer better than anyone I’ve seen before.  

You’ll be asked to help get the canoes and paddles in getting them to the river.  If you are unable to help, don’t hesitate to say something.  There are usually plenty of people willing to help!  Once you get the rental equipment (or your own) down to the river it’s time to launch.  

If this is your first time, the employees of Clear Water Outfitting will gladly help by giving paddling tips and launching you into the river so you don’t get wet!

Once you’re on the river, what you do is up to you!  You’ll have a map, phone number and location details of where to end your trip and how to get back to your car.  There isn’t a time limit on how long you can enjoy your rental so don’t feel rushed!

Kayaking the Mississippi:

If you choose to Kayak the Mississippi River in central Minnesota, then Clear Water Outfitting is a good place to start.  Located right on the Mississippi river you wont have far to either get in or get out when your trip is over!

Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll either start at their location, end at their location or be shuttled to and from your start / end points.  

Once you’re on the river then enjoy the experience!  We’ve always been successful in finding bald eagles, plenty of bird watching, fish, turtles, frogs, river clams and even a river otter.  You never know what you’ll see so keep your eyes open. My kids have also found seashells too!

We’ve also seen beautiful homes, a wedding and others enjoying the river in their kayaks, canoes and tubes.  Along the river you’ll also find little islands which you can explore.  These make great spots for a picnic.  Just keep in mind that depending on the season the mosquitoes and ticks could be in full attack mode.     


  • Sunblock is by far my #1 tip.  And not just any sunblock but WATERPROOF sunblock! My husband and I made that mistake once!  We went on a half day white water rafting trip and used sunblocks.  BUT NOT WATERPROOF sunblock.  By the time we got home were were crispier than a lobster.  We had to cancel our other activities because we literally couldn’t move.  It was the best and worst mistake we’ve ever made.  Worst because it was SO PAINFUL.  Best because we’ve never forgotten that experience since!  
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if it’s a hot day.  Make sure you are fully hydrated while enjoying your trip.  This can include water as well as water packed snacks like grapes and watermelon!
  • If you plan on fishing, make sure to let CW Outfitting know so they can get you the appropriate kayak for your trip.  There is a difference between a standard kayak rental and a fishing kayak rental.  
  • A hat and sunglasses will become your best friends.  Depending on the time of day the reflection of the sun off the water can be a nuisance.  Sunglasses will not only help you not strain your eyes but you may see things a bit clearer that you otherwise would.  A hat will help keep you cool and prevent the top of your head from burning.

Bring Your Own Canoe, Kayak or Sup Board:

If you already own your own Kayak, Canoe or Sup Board, then feel free to use those on your trip.  As a result, CW Outfitting offers shuttle services which allows you to park at their facilities and shuttle to/from your start / end point.  The cost is less than renting a canoe and certainly helps you to be in two places at once! 

If you have two drivers that plan on doing the trip together and both own their own equipment with transportation racks, then across from CW Outfitting, on the other side of the river, is a free drop off point. 

Drive one car to your end point and leave the second in the parking lot of the location across the river. Then there aren’t any transportation fees.  This also applies to leaving a vehicle at this location if you plan on ending your trip here and starting at a location a few miles up the river.  


Clear Waters Outfitting does offer regular Groupons.  So make sure to check before you book your trip! We’ve used a Groupon for a kayak trip down the Mississippi River and as a result, we had no issues at all! So I type with confidence that they do honor their Groupons!

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Wednesday 18th of August 2021

What was your let in address and let out address for the 5 mile trip?


Monday 11th of October 2021

I don't know. It wasn't an obvious turn off to get there.

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