considerations when selecting an Outfitter for a Guided Trip on
the Upper Missouri River
Selecting an outfitter for a guided canoe trip can be somewhat
daunting. First, it helps to break down the various types of
One common type is what I call the Sierra Club Model. These
trips typically feature backpacking tents with pads to sleep on.
Sometimes you are required to bring all or a portion of your own
camping gear. Food tends to be of the “one pot” variety with
lots of starch and stir-fry, you may have to help with the
kitchen chores. A hot breakfast consisting of oatmeal and dried
fruit is common. Lunch is often “on your own” or some community
type sandwich making fest before you launch. Large non-profit
groups such as Sierra Club and Outward Bound follow this format
in their extensive catalogs of trips worldwide. Some of their
former employees have spun off with their own “outdoor
adventure” companies using the same model. Not a bad choice if
you are supporting your favorite cause, not such a good idea if
you are supporting a marginal enterprise.
Another type of company we see occasionally is non-resident
whitewater outfitters using their previous client list to expand
their reach. These companies will often list numerous domestic
and international destinations. The rafting industry as a whole
is a mature industry and these folks provide a good “package”
that travels reasonably well. You could do worse…or much
Our company is based on a model with roots in the exploration
and hunting tradition of outfitting. Traditional expedition or
safari style trips emphasize living and traveling in the
outdoors in comfort and safety so you and your family and
friends can maximize the enjoyment of the activity you came to
experience. The equipment we provide is the finest available;
the food is created and packed in our commercial kitchen. Our
local guides have been with us for years. This is the only river
we operate on and we are the oldest establishment in operation
on the Upper Missouri River. No one does better trips…not even
close. Below are important questions you should ask your
1) Is all camping gear provided and what exactly are the
Missouri River Outfitters provides 2- person wall tents with
cots, sleeping bags with liner and pillow, and waterproof gear
2) Will I be required to set and break camp or participate in
meal prep or clean up?
You are not required to do anything beyond carrying your
bags to your tent and back to
the canoe in the morning, however we enjoy having our guests
3) What is the guide to guest ratio?
We maintain at least a 1 to 4 ratio. It is imperative to
have the trip fully staffed for
the comfort and safety of our guests.
4) Is alcohol served and can I bring my own?
Some outfitters will not allow it, some will let you bring
your own. I like a cold beer after
a day on the river and a glass of wine can really set off
Meredith’s Portabella Mushroom
Chicken. Not only do we allow it, we provide it. We are careful
not to drink on the water
but we see nothing wrong with a couple of cold beers after a hot
day. Our complimentary
cooler will also have a variety of soft drinks.
5) What if I need help paddling my canoe?
This goes back to the guide to guest ratio and why it is so
important. If the need arises we can switch off and put a guide
in your canoe.