12,000km Canoe Odyssey Continues Across U.S.

Neal Moore’s 22 Rivers canoe project continues across the United States, despite COVID-19.

Moore’s 12,000km odyssey began on the West Coast. He plans to paddle 22 rivers, portaging his fully laden canoe on a cart where necessary, and finishing in New York with a celebratory spin round the Statue of Liberty.

This will be his second attempt. In 2018, he stacked up 2,700km from Oregon to North Dakota and survived a scary dump on the St. Regis River. In North Dakota, his second boat (and second set of portaging wheels) gave out, and his resolve crumbled. Moore decided to take a break and returned home to Taiwan, where he works as an English teacher and freelance journalist.

Moving the canoe, jam-packed with his belongings. Photo: Neal Moore, @riverjournalist


He eventually decided to give his project another shot in 2020. He went back to his original starting point on the West Coast, to ensure he achieves his original vision of a single continuous journey across the U.S. He has already paddled up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. On Saturday, he crossed the Continental Divide in Montana, roughly three months after he set off.

Moore describes himself as a storyteller and he had hoped to tell the stories of those he met during the journey. Clearly, COVID-19 has changed this ambition somewhat. Campgrounds are closed and bumping into other travelers is rare. But he remains positive. “It’s actually still possible to chronicle stories,” he told a regional newspaper. “The thinking now is to underscore…what people are facing with the virus, as well as the economic fallout.”

Photo: Neal Moore/@riverjournalist


His expedition should take about two years. His route continues via the Columbia River and then heads south towards the Missouri and the Mississippi. He’ll follow meandering rivers through the southeastern states before working his way up through the Ohio River system toward the Great Lakes. Finally, he’ll paddle down the Hudson into New York. Let’s hope he’s not still reporting on COVID-19 by the time he rounds Lady Liberty.