Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationBoats & Boating · 8 years ago

Is it easy to float the Allegheny / Mississippi river from Pittsburgh to the Gulf waters with a Houseboat?

Where can I find information for the logistics about such a trip? I have to get info about the best time of the year, the length of the trip in nautical miles, the availability of docking along the way, plus any other important information around this subject. What will be the branch of the US Government that can give such information? Anyone who has done this trip down river or up river? It's the beginning of my bucket list. Hopefully I can do it within two or three years from now

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    From the Allegheny river near Pittsburgh, it is 981 statute miles to the Mississippi at Cairo, Ill. There are 53 Locks on the Ohio RIver. From Cairo, it is another 871 miles to the Harvey Lock and Gulf ICW - and the bad news on the Lower Mississippi River route is - there are only two marinas. (All Inland river & lake as well as ICW miles are measured in statute miles.)

    The link below will fill you in on what to expect cruising down the Lower Mississippi River. Bottom line is you have two areas with distances of 400 and 450 miles respectively between fuel stops on the Lower Mississippi River. There is no longer any fuel at Paducah, and there are only two marinas between Green Turtle Marina on the Cumberland river or Kentucky Dam Marina Mile 22 on the Tennessee river - until you reach the Gulf ICW. There are no pleasure boat docks or marinas on the Mississippi side of New Orleans.

    The Lower Mississippi (sadly) is not what it used to be. . . Today, due to floods & droughts, etc. the banks of the Lower Mississippi are empty. Anchorages are difficult and hard to find. Docking is out of the question (even in New Orleans) and there are only two locations where you can even reach shore (for fuel or provisions). As a result, you need a minimum 450 mile fuel range to make this journey.

    There are options & alternative routes to the Gulf however. . . You can either carry additional fuel on board in jerry cans, or you can take the Tennessee River or Cumberland to the Tennessee-Tombigbee and end up at the Gulf at Mobile Bay. If seeing New Orleans by boat is really of interest, you can then take the Gulf ICW to New Orleans and enter Lake Pontchartrain (which has the nearest Marinas to New Orleans anyway. This route offers plenty of Marinas, sites to see, interesting places to go, and plenty of marinas with fuel & provisions. It also offers some great dockside restaurants.

    Since you mention making this journey "two or three years from now" I suggest for now, you refrain from buying any charts or maps or Guide Books - as these are all expensive and "dated" material. Wait to buy any of that until you are actually ready to go. You will find links to all these resources at the site below.

    The link, gives you all you need to know for exploring your options and what to expect, for the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, & Mississippi rivers as well as the Tenn-Tom Waterway and Gulf ICW. In addition, there is also an interactive map with which you can zoom in and out to see the route, and even boats in the marinas. . .

    It also covers boat size, locks, bridges, hazards, and basically everything you need to know in regards to what you should expect along your way. . . so as to make your journey as safe and comfortable as possible.

    Hope you enjoy:


  • 8 years ago

    Its quite a trip, but it can be done. There isn't a government institution that has the answers you are looking for, but private companys have done some research. Get down to your local marine supply store and check out the boating guides in your area. Those folks should have a guide (or more then one) that can "walk" you through the entire trip. Fuel docks, nav markers, and all.

    The one BIG factor on such a trip that you have NO control over is the transiting of the locks. On the Ohio alone I think there's like a dozen or so. And commercial traffic always has the right-of-way. So you can find yourself hanging around upstream while big loads go through; even though you got there first.

    In doing your research, you might investigate an optional route to the gulf. I seem to recall that just west of Cincinnati there is a river that goes to a series of lakes, and to a canal, and to another river that flows directly south through Alabama; or along the border. It may be quicker, and safer than the Mississippi considering that you aren't in some 150 foot barge.

    I hope you pull it off, and have a great trip.

  • 8 years ago

    It's not done very often in a Houseboat. In my experience you can't do this in winter or spring. Summer has it's own challenges. No one goes up stream. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls the waterways that you mention. I'm not at all sure you can make the trip Via the Allegheny to the Mississippi. You can make it down the Mississippi.

    If you try to go all the way to the Gulf, I would wonder where you would go then. Houseboats don't do well in the Gulf of Mexico..........

    Just to be clear, a Holiday Mansion or a Bluewater are the only Houseboats with the free-board and power to handle this trip.

    You would be looking at close to 2000 miles. and do well to average 12 miles an hour.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Informative answers, just what I was looking for.

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