Elliott, Ruskey brings Quapaw Canoe Company guided tours to Natchez
NATCHEZ — On Tuesday, Adam Elliott and John Ruskey’s “crazy idea” of taking a canoe boat and paddling on the Mississippi River will expand to Natchez for guided tours, expeditions, bird watching, photography and wildlife-viewing adventures.
“Opening a branch here was overdue,” Elliott said. “A lot of people have been asking for it, and this is one of the best assets of our town. Natchez wouldn’t be Natchez if not for the river.”
Ruskey said Natchez is one of the few river towns anywhere on the lower Mississippi. In fact, Ruskey pointed out only three other locations besides Natchez that actually sit on the river — Helena, Baton Rouge and Vicksburg.
“Natchez is unique,” Ruskey said. “It has a great river history and it’s a beautiful town. With the diversity of the community, you couldn’t ask for a better place to make another stop.”
A typical tour consists of a five-hour canoe or kayak adventure. Along with exploring the waters, travelers will bird watch, track animals if any animal tracks are discovered and tour sandbars. That, of course, will be accompanied by stories about Native Americans, the Natchez people, pioneer settlers, war history and steamboats.
Elliott, who has guided tours from Vicksburg to St. Francisville, said this would be another great way to get people to come to Natchez.
Natchez will be the newest outpost for the Vicksburg-founded Quapaw Canoe Company, which was established in 1988 when Ruskey met with tour guide Elliott.
“This whole business started on the big bad Mississippi River,” Ruskey said. “Everybody said, ‘you’re crazy, you’re out of your mind. You’ll never come back if you paddle down the Mississippi.’ It was the biggest river in North America and nobody was paddling on it. Since then, it’s grown into an operation with guides.”
The company takes tour guides around Helena, Ark., Vicksburg, Natchez and St. Francisville. The idea to bring it to Natchez was the brainchild of Elliott.
As far as business models go, it’s simple statistics for Ruskey and Elliott. Ruskey said there are 24 million paddlers in North America, with most of them going to boundary waters. What Ruskey and Elliott want to do is divert a few thousand of those paddlers to Quapaw locations for a “spectacular” paddling opportunity.
The Quapaw Canoe Company is a custom outfit, meaning tours will happen whenever people want them to happen.
At noon Tuesday, Elliott will feature an all-afternoon round-trip canoe ride from Natchez’s Under-the-Hill ramp.
The full moon trip leaves at 6 p.m. and returns “by the light of the moon.” There will be live music to follow at the Under-the-Hill Saloon.
If you’re looking for an agent to contact and book a reservation, you’ll find one in the shape of a mobile device.
Those wanting to arrange tours should call Elliott at 601-807-5382, email Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a tour at island63.com/natchez.com.