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April 11, 2008

Lewis & Clark Water Trail - MDC photoJefferson City, MO - If you long for adventure but lack the time or money for long-distance travel, Missouriís Lewis and Clark Water Trail is your escape from the ordinary.

The water trail encompasses more than 500 miles of the Missouri River, from the Iowa State line to the riverís confluence with the Mississippi River. Along the way it passes historic river towns and landscapes that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark described on their epic journey 200 years ago.

Many parks and conservation areas have interpretive signs and monuments telling about the Corps of Discovery and how current conditions compare to those the explorers encountered. Today, as in 1804, the river teems with wildlife, from bald eagles and migratory birds of every description to deer, turkeys, monster blue catfish and sturgeon.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt designated the water trail in 2006 to call attention to the treasure trove of outdoor recreation and history available along Missouriís stretch of the river. The fact that Katy Trail State Park parallels the water trail for 150 miles multiplies the opportunities for adventure.

The Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Division of Tourism, in cooperation with other partners, set up a website - www.missouririverwatertrail.org - to help people rediscover the riverís diverse recreational assets. The website has maps and practical information, such as driving directions to river accesses, city parks, viewing sites and camping facilities. It has paddling and trip-planning tips and suggested day trip routes for canoeists, kayakers, boaters, hikers, bicyclists, nature photographers, hunters and anglers. For sites managed by the Conservation Department, links allow you not only to see area brochures, but also connect directly to all information in the agencyís online Conservation Atlas.

The website also has links to canoe and kayak guide and rental services, riverside resorts, regional paddling associations and sources of information about the riverís cultural and natural histories. The link to Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge provides access to information about 10,000 acres along the river between Kansas City and St. Louis.

There is even a link to a webcam that takes photos of the river every 10 minutes at the North Overton Bottoms chute. Viewing the 200 images there gives website visitors a glimpse of the riverís many moods.

The websiteís newest element is a featured section of the river. There you will find photos and detailed information about planning trips of different kinds and lengths in the featured river section.

ďA majority of Missourians live within a 30-minute drive of the Missouri River,Ē said Shannon Cave, water trail coordinator for the Conservation Department. ďAn increasing number of people want to use the river. The website is designed to make that as easy as possible.Ē

-Jim Low-

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