Monday, May 5, 2014

Kayaking Fargo, Red River Reminiscence

Urban paddle through downtown Fargo and Moorhead

 The city of Fargo has been all the news this past year. It has a new hit TV series that shares it's name. ESPN College Game Day came to town for a visit last fall,  and it received rave reviews from the national media about it's urban trendy downtown nightclubs, restaurants and bars. It seems, Fargo is cool. After living and raising a family there for quite awhile it nice to see it get some positive attention. But, for me, the best part is it's river.

 Slicing through the communities of Fargo and it's next door neighbor, Moorhead, Minn,  is the Red  River of the North. This slow motion friend doesn't seem to be in a hurry at all.  It meanders 550 miles from it's source in Breckenridge, Minn all the way to Lake Winnipeg in Canada. In one of the world's flattest places,  the river can pick and chose it's own way.  There are not many straight lines in this waterway. In some places along the river, Minnesota is on west bank, while North Dakota is to the east. Moving very slowly and sloping at just a half-foot per mile, any beginner can navigate this river easily.

Sunset on the Red River.

 Kayaking or canoeing has never been so easy. Along with the cities' parks departments, the Riverkeepers, a non profit organization established to protect and preserve the integrity and natural environment of the river in the Fargo-Moorhead area, have developed several access points along the river. Two favorites are located above and below the Midtown Dam in Dike East Park. The dam has been retrofitted with a rocky slope. Fishermen hang out here daily during the summer months.
 From here one can paddle either north through the center of the cites to get views of the skylines and  bridges, or go south towards Lindenwood park to escape the bustle.
  It is hard to believe this is an urban paddle as one winds and weaves around with the stream. Willow, cottonwood and box elder trees cradle the river at each bend. In either direction don't be surprised to see beaver, river otters and white tailed deer. It feels like a trip into the wilderness.
 Of course in other places, one can tell they are in a city.  The sounds of traffic and train horn echo off the water. The music of a jazz guitar floats down from a riverside venue or the Oak Grove High School Band plays it's fight song at it's football field near to the river. It is always good to remember pizza or a glass of wine are minutes away after the kayaks are loaded up. 

Kayaking only stops when the Red River is frozen.
 One of the more popular events on the river is the annual Race the Red kayak and canoe race sponsored by the Riverkeepers.  Each year area paddlers come to challenge skills, raise money for Riverkeepers and have fun. The race features a 10 mile competitive race and a 2 mile fun paddle. The race begins at the Lindenwood Park bike bridge and ends down stream at the floating bridge above the Midtown Dam. This year's race is slated for June 9, 2014. For more information log on to

Lining up for the race.

Debbie and Nick after placing in last year's race.
 I'm now part of the Red River's history. I'm sure no one in recent times had paddle up and down it so much. It's muddy looking waters, ever changing direction and rumble of it's dams still call and always will. I have seen picturesque sunrises and sunsets,  cool morning mists and tranquil snow falls at each bend. I have enjoyed time with family and friends floating on the river as well as solo trips of solitude. The river was a wonderful friend in my journey of life.

Paddling the Red River.