2021 KAW 173 Journey

Junction City to Kansas City on the Kansas River

REGISTER HERE: https://2021kaw173.eventbrite.com

Kansas River paddle around St. George, Kansas

2021 KAW 173 Plans

The Kansas River Water Trail is a 173-mile-long prairie river wild space. The Kansas River was designated as a water trail in 2012, only the second in the nation at the time. This Trail boasts 19 public boat ramps and sandbar camping is available to the public between the high water marks. No reservations or permits are required, just a fishing license if that’s your thing. There’s plenty of driftwood on the sandbars for your campfire, but don’t go up the banks – that would be trespassing! The Kansas River is one of the few wild places in Kansas and those sandbars are ours–they are public land!

So JOIN US, as we embark on a journey to paddle the entire 173-mile-long river with YOU!

Friends of the Kaw is organizing a repeat of our 2020 trip from the headwaters of the Kansas River (Kaw) in Junction City all the way to Kansas City where it joins the Missouri River. This year, the trip will be broken into four segments spread out over four weekends to be accessible for more paddlers. Participants must be members of Friends of the Kaw.  You can join for one weekend or all four! WE will plan the locations, times, training to read the river and our experienced guides….YOU plan for your boat, lifejacket, gear, food and transportation if you need to get off the river early.

You must be a MEMBER of Friends of the Kaw to join us. Become a MEMBER here:  https://kansasriver.org/get-involved/membership-2/

DATES FOR 2021:

  • Friday, June 25 to Sunday, June 27, 2021 (Junction City to Wamego; 45 miles)
  • Friday, July 30 to Sunday, August 1, 2021 (Wamego to Topeka Kaw State Park; 38 miles)
  • Friday, August 27 to Sunday, August 29, 2021 (Topeka Kaw State Park to Lawrence @ Bowersock; 38 miles)
  • Friday, October 1 to Sunday, October 3, 2021 (Lawrence @ Bowersock to Kansas City Kaw Point Park; 52 miles)
  • Sign up now for all four weekends or just the ones you want!

Cost: We are asking for all participants to be a Member ($35) and make a non-refundable donation fee of $300 ($75 per weekend) to secure your spot. You can make payment by making a donation on our website: https://kansasriver.org/donation/
*This event is FREE to any Kaw River Guide that has volunteered with Friends of the Kaw four (4) times or more in the last year. If you qualify, complete the registration form and indicate so in the comment block.

REGISTER HERE: https://2021kaw173.eventbrite.com

Join our Facebook group after you register, where you can ask questions to our Kaw River Guides: https://www.facebook.com/groups/277705780095005/

Each weekend will begin on Friday afternoon with a shuttle at 2:00pm, and launch between 3-4pm. Then we will find a sandbar a short distance downstream and make camp. On Saturday morning we will break camp and return to the river about 8:00 AM, paddle all morning, stop for lunch, and continue paddling all afternoon until we find another camping sandbar in the early evening. On Sunday, we will launch again about 8:00 AM, paddle, lunch, paddle and end the weekend on Sunday evening with a shuttle for a few vehicles. We will average over 20 miles of paddling each full day; ramp spacing dictates that we will have some shorter days, but also some days of 25 miles. Our typical paddle trip is about 10 miles in 5-6 hours; on the KAW 173 Journey this year, we will be putting in 20-25 miles in 8 hours for two days in a row.

You will need your own boating and camping gear, food and water. We will stage a water drop along the way, usually Saturday night, but you should be prepared to carry at least 2 gallons (16 lb) of water. We recommend a boat at least 12’ long. Be aware of the weight capacity of your boat as you load it with food, clothing, and safety and camping gear.

We will have some pre-Journey campouts in conjunction with the normal FOK trips if you need to test your packing skills, tent pitching ability, or meal plans. We will have about two months of FOK paddle trips to help get your “river arms”, though you will need to paddle more than just a few short weekend trips to be ready for this. 

Real Talk:

This Journey is not meant for beginning paddlers or first-time campers. First long paddle trip but experienced backpacker? You’re halfway there, you’ll be fine. Never camped on the river but paddled the Gritty Fitty? Welcome. This trip, however, is not a good place to learn to paddle, learn to camp, learn to cook, and test your stamina – that’s a lot of potential pitfalls. The early segments on the western end are a little easier than the final push into KC, so use those to gauge your readiness. Each paddler should arrange for an emergency exit; someone who can pick you up at a boat ramp if you can’t continue the trip.

The group that did the 9-day trip last year ranged in age from 40 to mid-60s and we aren’t super athletes, this trip is accessible to a range of skill levels but it does require planning, preparation and conditioning.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE RIVER!

Our KAW 173 Team from 2020

2020 KAW 173 (Archive)

Update on Tuesday July 21, 2020:

A note about the recent rains and the Kaw 173 Public Paddles:

We’ve received quite a bit of rain in the watershed and the river will be rising. These conditions are not recommended for beginner and average paddlers. We recommend that only experienced paddlers enjoy the river in the current conditions.

Our Riverkeeper and Kaw River Guides complete river checks at flows up to 15,000 cfs. They are experienced paddlers and will continue their 173 journey as planned given the current data.

Our public paddle scheduled for Lecompton will currently go on as planned however we recommend that only experienced paddlers join us on this trip. Please note that this is an opportunity to paddle the river with us but we will not be offering guide service and we will not be slowing our pace. We hope that those of you who can, will join us. We will assess the other public paddle trips as more information becomes available. Thanks for following us on social media!

The Kansas River Water Trail is a 173-mile-long prairie river wild space. The Kansas River was designated as a water trail in 2012, only the second in the nation at the time. This Trail boasts 19 public boat ramps and sandbar camping is available to the public between the high water marks. No reservations or permits are required, just a fishing license if that’s your thing. There’s plenty of driftwood on the sandbars for your campfire, but don’t go up the banks – that would be trespassing! The Kansas River is one of the few wild places in Kansas and those sandbars are ours–they are public land!

So follow along starting on July 17, 2020, as a team from Friends of the Kaw embarks on a journey to paddle the entire 173-mile-long river to bring awareness to its  beauty and all that it has to offer. Your Kansas Riverkeeper, Dawn Buehler, will write a blog about what she sees and experiences along the way. Otters tracks? Deer? Coyotes? Catfish? Bald Eagles? We will see all of that wildlife and more!

And if  you are into paddling and have your own boat and gear you can join along at any one of these designated segments below. We would love to paddle with you and share our passion for the  Kansas River Water Trail! Don’t have a boat but want to chat about the trail? Join us for one of our Community Visits to celebrate  what this magnificent waterway  has to offer us right here in Kansas. Who needs to go to Missouri or Arkansas or any other state when we have this beauty right in our own backyard! Join Us. We want to hear from you!

PUBLIC PADDLES–Come join us along the trail at one of these locations. No RSVP is required–just show up, be completely self-sufficient, and join us as we paddle on the Kansas River Water Trail!

  • Saturday July 18, 2020: We will be passing the Ogden boat ramp around 9:30 A.M. Launch and join us on the paddle to the Manhattan 177 Ramp.
  • Sunday, July 19, 2020: We will stop at the St. George Boat Ramp and get refreshments at Willie’s Hideout. We will launch at 12:30 P.M. so join us to paddle to Wamego.
  • Thursday, July 23, 2020: We will be passing the Lecompton boat ramp around 8:30 A.M. Launch and join us on the paddle to Lawrence Riverfront Park.
  • Friday, July 24, 2020: We will pass the Eudora area around 10:00 A.M. We will not stop at the Eudora Ramp, so launch yourself from there on the Wakarusa which flows into the Kaw, and join us for a  paddle to DeSoto!
  • Friday, July 24, 2020: After a food stop at DeSoto, we will launch around 2:30 P.M. and paddle from DeSoto to Cedar Creek  Join us!

COMMUNITY VISITS–We will be showcasing communities along the Kansas River Water Trail so come and join us at the boat ramp when we arrive. We will be talking to local community members and leaders about how the Kansas River Water Trail is a part of your community!

  • Friday, July 17, 2020: Launching on the Kansas River Water Trail in Junction City at 4:30 P.M. for a Community Visit and Send-Off!
  • Saturday, July 18, 2020: Arrive at Manhattan 177 Boat Ramp at 2:30 P.M. for a Community Visit.
  • Sunday, July 19, 2020: Arrive at St. George Boat Ramp at 11:30 A.M. for a Community Visit and Refreshments at Willie’s Hideout.
  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Arrive at Kaw State Park Boat Ramp in Topeka at 8:30 A.M. for a Community Visit.
  • Thursday, July 23, 2020: Arrive at Lawrence 8th Street Ramp at 12:30 P.M. for a Community Visit.
  • Friday, July 24, 2020: Arrive at DeSoto Boat Ramp at 1:30 PM for a Community Visit.
  • Saturday, July 25, 2020: Arrive at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, Kansas at 3:30 P.M. for a quick toast!

NOTE: Dates and  times are estimated and may be shifted due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. Please wear a life jacket on the Public Paddles.  Please wear a MASK on the boat ramp.

Friends of the Kaw will be taking photos, video and drone footage of all events of the KAW 173 Journey and as such may use them in any or all of our publications.