Transportation ~ Education ~ Stewardship | a social mission
Paddle Taxi’s social mission is to directly improve the public’s access to, awareness of and experience on the Mississippi River National Recreation Area.  

As a not-for-profit social enterprise, Paddle Taxi (LLC) is currently accomplishing this social mission through (1) a free, seasonal shuttle service for paddlers and their watercraft on the Mississippi River, (2) education for the public regarding the state of the river and best practices for river sustainability and safety, and (3) promoting active stewardship on the Mississippi River by cleaning and maintaining access points, uniting with and advocating for engagement with social justice, river-focused organizations.

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Austin Aho

Founding Manager of Paddle Taxi and Stand Up MN

"Once I experienced the Mississippi River as a volunteer with Wilderness Inquiry, I knew that this National Park and Mighty River was a natural treasure I wanted to spend my life sharing with others.  Paddle Taxi became a simple solution to a complex problem and I am excited by the enthusiasm and support we've received so far."

Solving Problems

Working with our Twin Cities partners, Stand Up MN and Friends of the Mississippi River, we have discovered common barriers to public engagement with the river are logistical planning and stigma of poor water quality.

Problem: Logistical planning.  It is difficult, expensive and confusing to experience the Mississippi River National Recreation Area.  There are few designated paddle trails, entry and exit points are not clearly understood, and each paddler must coordinate multiple vehicles and drivers.

Solution:  Paddle Taxi currently meets scheduled paddlers at designated stations on the Mississippi River and transports them and their watercrafts (4 kayaks, 2 canoes) up-river.  Paddle Taxi’s paddle trail brings awareness to clean and maintained access points, potential hazards, seasonal conditions and eliminates the need for multiple drivers, vehicles and route planning.

Problem: Public stigma of poor water quality.  As a historically polluted waterway, the river is perceived as “contaminated” and “unsafe.”  Many people are unaware of the current efforts and innovative resources being used to restore and protect water quality and wildlife refuge in the Mississippi River Valley.  This negative stigma and lack of information cause people to dismiss the river and be complacent with its perceived state.

Solution:  Paddle Taxi uses resources provided by Friends of the Mississippi River, Department of National Resources, National Park Service, Stand Up MN, 1 Mississippi and other local and national organizations to educate the public with accurate, current and helpful information on the state of the river.

Problem: Lack of river advocates.


Solution: Paddle Taxi utilizes ethical guidelines created by Leave No Trace, Friends of the Mississippi River and American Canoe Association to become a leader in river stewardship.  Paddle Taxi commits to reducing its footprint by using energy efficient vehicles, green technologies and encouraging paddlers to connect with local river cleanups.  Paddle Taxi’s advocacy on the river creates a sustainable service as well as a more vibrant river.

Exploring the Mississippi River has never been so easy, safe and affordable.  Paddle Taxi is exactly what every paddler, and national park, deserves.

More than a shuttle

Paddle Taxi currently provides access to one of the greatest natural resources and preserved areas in the United States, the Mississippi River.  We work from a community level, partnering with established organizations, to identify barriers, stigma and misinformation about the state of the river.  This scalable model, supported by private and public sponsors, begins to change public perceptions through direct experience and is sustained by empowering healthy partnerships between public and river-focused organizations.  This social engagement service is designed to expand into regional and national waterways.

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