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THE MISSISSIPPI PADDLE SHARE IS MAKING KAYAK RENTALS CHEAP & HASSLE-FREE

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GINA VAN THOMME

APR 18, 2019

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You’ve conquered the costumed 5k, unrolled your yoga mat for an outdoor class, and even tried snowshoeing. And while it feels like you’ve taken on every fitness activity the Twin Cities have to offer, you’re still relentless in the pursuit of your next adventure.

Or maybe you’re bored. It’s been so long since you did anything exciting. You live for thrills and recently nothing has been enough to satiate your unyielding thirst for adrenaline. Heck, maybe you just want a day out of the office chair.

Whatever your story, you’ve come to the right place because the National Park Service in Minnesota is dishing up adventures on the daily.

EXPERIENCE THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI

Imagine this: it’s a beautiful summer’s day, the sun is high in the sky, and the blue waters of the Mississippi gently rock your kayak. You feel the breeze in your hair as you take in a glimpse of the sparkling Minneapolis skyline. “This is the life,” you think to yourself as you continue paddling, your arm muscles looking particularly [object Object] underneath your comfortable and flattering life vest.

Thanks to the new Paddle Share program—and federal, public, and private partners that make the service possible—this can be your reality. Since its start in summer 2016, Paddle Share has been enabling experienced kayakers the chance to get rollin’ on the river, late-May/early-June through October, without the cost and hassle of lugging their own kayaks all over town.

The premise is super simple. First, you choose which of five routes is right for you—stations start at Coon Rapids Regional Dam with the final return station at St. Paul’s Harriet Island Regional Park and range from 1.7 to 7.5 miles—reserve your kayak online, unlock your vessel (and paddle and life vest) from an equipment locker at your starting point, and get on your way.

Rentals costs between $20 and $40 depending on whether you are renting a solo or tandem kayak and get you three hours of paddling time, but once you reach your destination, the fun is only half over.

’YAK DOWN, BIKE BACK

Once you’re back on solid land and have said a tearful goodbye to your kayak, you can opt to extend your journey by biking back to your starting place. How’s that possible? Most of Paddle Share’s St. Paul and Minneapolis stations are near Nice Ride MN bike rack, meaning that for a few extra bucks, you can pedal past the route you just paddled down. In our opinion, that counts as both an arms day and a legs day.

Sea legs get the best of you? No worries — you can always opt to take public transit or catch a ride back. Whatever you choose, your time on the river is sure to deliver.

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