Coon Rapids, Anoka County • Annual or daily park permit needed
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is nestled along America’s busiest water way—the Mississippi River. This is a popular spot to canoe and kayak North America’s longest river.
Paddling on the Mississippi
There’s a boat launch in the Park in a sheltered inlet away from the main body of the river where you can launch your canoe or kayak. As you paddle through the narrow channel, you’ll want to keep to the right. The dam is to the left and no boat traffic is allowed close to it for obvious reasons! You’ll see buoys marking the area.
Potential river hazards
The obvious challenge for any river is the current. The later we go in the season and the less rain we’ve had, the easier it is to paddle against the current. But there’s always a current, so be aware.
Another possible hazard are motor boats, which are active on the river. You want to be seen by other boaters, so if your canoe or kayak isn’t a bright color, be sure to wear hi-viz clothing or a brightly-colored life jacket.
Weekends are always busier than weekdays, so if you’re flexible you may have a more enjoyable paddle during the week, especially in the summer.
Mississippi River State Water Trail
The entire length of the Mississippi that runs through the Twin Cities is part of the Mississippi River State Water Trail.
You can’t start at the boat launch here and think you’ll paddle downstream, since the boat launch is above Coon Rapids Dam. Your best option is to drive over to Mississippi Gateway Regional Park on the west side of the River. There are a couple nice launches for canoes and kayaks over there.
There are several options to launch upstream from this park and finish there at the dam. For a 5-6 mile paddle you can launch in Anoka near the confluence of the Mississippi and the Rum River (here’s the map). You’ll need a ride back or a couple of cars for this, of course, but it’s a nice trip.
How to Get There
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is accessed off the intersection of Crooked Lake Boulevard and Egret Boulevard NW. Follow the signs to the park entrance.
You’ll need an Anoka County Parks vehicle permit, either daily or annual. The permit is also good for Washington County regional parks.