is just a
Boat Ride
(we hope to see you on this one)
Cruising the Mississippi River
::   The "Lower" Mississippi River Route   ::
The "Lower Mississippi River" leg of your voyage is 859 miles to New Orleans - it begins at the
convergence of the Ohio River at Cairo. The Lower Mississippi actually goes 95 miles south of New Orleans and crosses
the Gulf ICW near the Gulf of Mexico. So your voyage to New Orleans is 859 miles from Cairo and 1,078 miles from

For navigational purposes

The Mississippi River is divided into two
.  From Cairo, IL to the Gulf of Mexico,
the Mississippi River is referred to as the
Lower Mississippi river.

North of Cairo, the Mississippi is referred
to as the
Upper Mississippi river.
Making Sense
of the Mile Markers on the Mississippi River
Consider this: If you are indeed Tom Sawyer traveling with Huck Finn, and neither of you hesitate to jump into the muddy water, or
climb up a the river's muddy banks carrying enough jerry cans to refuel your vessel, or hike out to get ice and provisions as needed; and you love
your solitude, you will be thrilled boating down the full length of the Lower Mississippi.
If however, you are Captain Clean cruising with Ms Manicure, and both of you are social butterflies; you are likely to be miserable voyaging
down the Lower Mississippi.
Most Loopers (even those that have the fuel range) bid farewell to the Mississippi in Cairo, and take the Tenn-Tom
- and they do it for good reasons!
 If you want to visit New Orleans, I suggest taking the Tennessee-Tombigbee route, and then turning to starboard from Mobile Bay onto
the Gulf ICW. Heading west on the GICW, you can then visit New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain. Or you can rent a car at the Fairhope Marina and
be in New Orleans in two and a half hours. Both these options will be a much better experience than boating the Lower Mississippi river.
The USACE (Army Corp of Engineers) has divided the Mississippi
River into two halves. The
Upper Mississippi is one half, and the Lower
is the other. Cairo is the dividing point.

The Mississippi River's mouth is located 95 miles south of New
at the Gulf of Mexico. From this point, distances on the
Mississippi River are measured in statute miles. The mouth, or "Head of
Passes" as it is referred to, is the point from which all mileage on the
Lower Mississippi River is measured.

Cairo, Illinois, is at Mile Maker 954 on the Lower Mississippi.
That means it is 954 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the end of
Lower Mississippi River; and the beginning of the Upper Mississippi.
Therefore Cairo is also Mile 0 (zero) on the Upper Mississippi River. All
Mississippi River miles
above Cairo give you the distance from Cairo. All
miles below Cairo give you the distance to the Gulf of Mexico (95 miles
beyond New Orleans).

For Great Loopers, the Mississippi starts at Grafton, IL where the
Illinois River joins the
Upper Mississippi at Mile 219. Grafton of course,
is Mile 219 on the Upper Mississippi. To determine Grafton's distance
from the Gulf of Mexico, simply take Grafton Mississippi mile marker 219
(the distance north from Cairo) and add it to the Cairo Mile Marker 954,
and you get the distance (219 + 954 = 1,173).  Grafton is therefore
1,173 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. So your voyage to New Orleans
from Grafton is 1,078 miles.
Sadly this is NOT the romantic, carefree voyage it once was. . .
       Your decision to cruise the full length of the Mississippi River to New Orleans and the Gulf ICW vs taking the Tennessee-Tombigbee to
Mobile Bay and the Gulf ICW should be considered seriously. In addition to the question of fuel range and
fresh water capacity, your provisions and
lack of facilities along this route are important considerations.

       Despite what you may think,  boating the Lower Mississippi River together with what you expect when you arrive in New Orleans will not be
what you dreamed
. Trust our experience on this one. . . When it comes to boats, boating, bugs, tugs and barges - the Lower Mississippi and the
Mississippi side of New Orleans will (most likely) turn out to be something you will wish you had avoided altogether - especially - if it comes as a
       What matters most in making the choice of what route to take, is your vessel's fuel range - as well as your lifestyle and comfort zone.  In
order to cruise the Lower Mississippi, your boat's fuel capacity must provide you with a fuel range of
352 miles if you use diesel, or 449 miles if
you use gasoline.
This difference in fuel distance between gas & diesel is a result of a single optional trucked in diesel fuel delivery service
which is
not available for gasoline users.

       While the Tennessee - Tombigbee route offers dozens of Marinas between the Ohio river and the Gulf ICW, the Lower
Mississippi river offers only 2 Marinas
between Hoppies Marina at Mile Marker 158.5 on the Upper Mississippi, and New Orleans.  There are no
services or fuel from Hoppies to Mud Island Marina on the Wolf River Harbor off the Lower Mississippi River (Memphis) at Mile Marker 737. This is a
distance of 376 miles, and there are no services or fuel from Greenville until you reach the Gulf ICW, and there are no pleasure boat dock
s or
access to
New Orleans from the Mississippi River.

       There are also no Marina Services between the Greenville Yacht Club at Mile 539 and New Orleans until you pass through the Harvey
Lock at Mile Marker 93 and proceed 3 more miles east on the Gulf ICW to SeaBrook Marine. This makes your distance from Greenville Yacht Club to
Seabrook Marina a total distance of 449 miles.  
This makes this leg of your voyage the farthest distance between fuel stops on the entire
Great Loop.

Regardless of fuel, in both cases, from Hoppies Marina you have:
    1. Mud Island Marina,
    2. Greenville Yacht Club

       These two marinas are the only shore access points and Marina services for over  400 miles in either direction.  So, if you need
fuel, showers, laundry, ice, beverages, provisions, or any kind, you will NOT find them between Hoppies and Mud RIver, between Mud River and
Greenville, or between Greenville and Seabrook Marina. This distance, on average) takes us 12 to 15 days. Therefore you will be anchoring out in
places with no shore access for 12 to 15 days (provided you don't get caught in bad weather).  So plan ahead, and plan accordingly.
       Now, if you have the fuel range, the Lower Mississippi can be a very exciting and enjoyable voyage - if anchoring out and spending that
amount of time exclusively on your boat - fits well into your lifestyle. If you can carry the provisions you want and need, and you enjoy your solitude,
it will be a voyage to remember.
       While I know it sounds as if we are being negative about this, our intention is not to encourage or discourage - only to inform.  Fact is, the
severe floods over the years have simply washed out all the riverfront restaurants, marinas, fish camps, and shore access . Now, all of that has been
replace with high levies on one side and shallow swamps on the other.
       New Orleans:  If visiting New Orleans is your objective, you need to be aware that the Mississippi River side of New Orleans offers no services
of any kind to pleasure boaters. There simply are no docks, no anchorages, and no fuel. To visit New Orleans you will need to head straight to the
east side of the Harvey Lock and/or take the cut to Lake Pontchartrain.
If you take the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to Mobile Bay, you can rent a
car at the Marina in Fairhope and New Orleans is just two and a half hours away - and this will make a much more enjoyable experience over visiting
New Orleans.

The Lower Mississippi River
voyage requires
a 'gasoline' fuel range of
449 miles.
It requires
a 'diesel' fuel range of
352 miles


and ONLY 2 Marinas

and hard to find



New Orleans
is a wonderful place to visit,
but you will NOT be able to visit it
via pleasure boat from the
Mississippi River.

To visit New Orleans, you will need
to dock your boat on the
Lake Pontchartrain
or Gulf ICW.

Between the
Bugs & Barges
You will most likely
be thrilled to escape
the Mississippi river side of
New Orleans
::   Cruising the "lower" Mississippi Route   ::
This route offers you only 2 fuel stops between Hoppies Marina or Kidd River Fuel (diesel only)
and Seabrook Marina on the Gulf ICW - compared to
over 30 Marinas on the Tenn-Tom route.
© 1993 - 2017
Cruising the Gulf ICW - click next.
If you are thinking of "drifting"
down the Mississippi River (for lack
of fuel range). The "average"
surface speed on the water is only
about as fast as you can walk.
Imagine. . . the
"New Orleans Steamboat"
arriving in New Orleans for the
very first time. . .

It would have been far bigger
than any ship you had ever
seen.  In addition, it had no
sails!  If that wasn't
enough - it promised to take you,
your family, and all your
belongings to St. Louis, MO in
only 20 days.
A trip that previously would have
taken you 6 months or more.
For more on Riverboat
history, click on the Steamboat

100 year
of the Riverboat

click on the SummerWind
100 years of Riverboat History
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
America's Great Loop
America's Great Loop Map
Best of the Great Loop
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
Success on the Loop
can do