The average slope of the Red River is just one-half foot per mile, which makes the Red a slow-moving, easily navigable river. However, high winds have been known to create whitecaps. It features channel widths of less than 100 feet to more than 500 feet at its northern reaches. At bank-full conditions, average depths vary from 10 to 30 feet. Its flow can be widely fluctuating. Devastating floods may be associated with summer rain storms and spring thaw.
- Travel with a companion or group.
- Don't overestimate your capabilities. Most people paddle two to three river miles per hour.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, which state law requires to be on board.
- Check weather forecasts and flow rates.
- Use a map, know your route, and tell someone of your plans.
- Bring a first-aid kit and drinking water. There are very limited sources of drinking water along the route.
- Dams may not be marked. Refer to this map for locations.
- Be prepared for very limited sanitary facilities.
Rest Areas and Camping Sites
- Access sites and camping areas are limited. They may be too far apart for certain trip lengths.
- Some camping areas do not have drinking water. Drinking river water is not recommended, but if you do, it must be treated.
- Respect private property. There are limited public lands along the Red River. Do not trespass.
- Pack out all trash.
- Be aware that this river touches two states. Each may have different regulations, especially regarding personal watercraft (jet skis).
- Avoid the spread of exotic aquatic species
- Minnesota requires all watercraft, including canoes and kayaks, to be registered in Minnesota or state of residence.
- Low water conditions may not be suitable for boating. Snags are common. Leave motors unlocked.
- Minimize wakes in developed areas and when passing canoes and boats.