Ice Jam, courtesy of USACE

Timing is everything!

If your timing is off, you can have a truly miserable trip. For instance, lets say you plan a trip on the upper Mississippi River, and the only time available is late November or early December. That's right. Ice conditions could stop you cold (pun)!

French Broad River, courtesy NOAA

Or, you've always wanted to see the Green River, in Kentucky. But, alas, when you reach the first lock going upstream from the Ohio, it is closed for the season! Or, how about that alligator climbing over your transom on a bayou in Louisiana, simply because you arrived just when mommy's babys had hatched and you anchored in her spot! Some of my potentially greatest trips have been ruined by the lowly mosquito. The point is, you've got to consider the "worst case scenarios" as they relate to the time slot for your voyage.

Some Locks operate on a seasonal basis only. Others allow periodic passage only if you call ahead with an arrival time. All Locks require periodic maintenance, and can be closed for varying lengths of time. In some cases, there are auxillary locks to use, and you will be delayed only slightly by waits for commercial ships and tows to lock thru. When no auxillary is available, your voyage may need rescheduling.

- Time
Current Time - U.S. Naval Observatory....To start you off right
Sunrise/Sunset, Moonrise/Moonset - U.S. Naval Observatory....How many daylight/moonlight travel hours available?

- Weather Conditions
The NOAA National Weather Service River Forecast Centers are your best source for predictions of upcoming hazards of all types, including floods, ice, storms, etc.:
River Forecast Centers

For Ice Conditions, use these:
River Ice Info Center

- Tidal Forecasts
If you travel near the coasts, use these:
Tidal Heighth and Current Predictor, Univ. of S. Carolina ....
NOAA/NOS Tide Water Level and Current Predictions....

- Notices to Navigation
These Notices are of scheduled river events that can impact your voyage, such as Lock closures:
Navigation Information Connection - USACE....see Related Links for your voyage area

- Coincidental Events
Looking at the brighter side, lets suppose you desire to time your trip to coincide with some of natures awesome events, such as the arrival of the Sandhill Cranes at the mouth of the Hiwassee River near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hear are some links to help you time various events:
Sky & Telescope's Weekly News Bulletin....Astronomical Events
Bird Checklists of the United States - USGS....Birding