How To: Float in Missouri

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Nothing says summer in the Show-Me State quite like a float trip. If you’re new to floating or looking to pick up a few tips before you head to the water, this guide is for you.

Viewed from above, a group of people floats down a calm river in a red raft.

What is Floating?

Take a relaxing trip down a pristine river in a raft, canoe, kayak or tube – that’s floating in Missouri. The current does much of the work, but you’ll need to paddle a bit to stay on course and navigate the slower-moving sections of the stream.

Depending on how much time you have, floats can range from an afternoon outing to a multi-day journey. Floating is an enjoyable pursuit spring through fall, but Missouri’s cool rivers provide a popular escape from the summer heat.

What Kind of Experience Are You Looking For?

More than a dozen rivers in Missouri offer varying experiences. As a general rule, the waterways located closer to Missouri’s major metro areas attract larger crowds, while streams deep in the Ozarks offer a more peaceful trip. Bring a friend or two and enjoy the solitude and nature-filled views, or gather a group for a splashing good time. Either way, it’s an adventure you’ll never forget.

Missouri Float Trip Locations

Meramec, Huzzah and Courtois Rivers

Map of float locations on the Meramec, Huzzah and Courtois Rivers.
Click image to open map.

3 Bridges Raft Rental (Meramec)
Floating and primitive camping

Bass River Resort (Meramec, Huzzah and Courtois)
Camping, cabins, floating and more

Blue Springs Ranch (Meramec)
Lodging, RV park, camping, floating, horseback trail rides and more

Garrison’s River Resort (Meramec)
RV park, lodging, camping and floating

Huzzah Valley Resort (Meramec, Huzzah)
Lodging, camping, floating and more

Old Cove Canoe (Meramec)
Floating and camping for groups of 10 or more

Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort (Meramec)
Camping, lodging and floating

The Rafting Company (Meramec)
RV camping, camping, limited lodging and floating

Gasconade, North Fork and Niangua Rivers

Map of float locations on Gasconade, North Fork and Niangua Rivers.
Click image to open map.

Bennett Spring State Park (Niangua)
Camping, lodging and floating

Dawt Mill (North Fork)
RV sites, lodging, camping, floating and more 

Gasconade Hills Resort (Gasconade)
RV park, lodging, camping, floating and more 

NRO (Niangua)
Lodging, camping and floating

Pettit Canoe Rental (North Fork)
Camping, lodging and floating

Ruby’s Landing (Gasconade)
RV park, camping, cabins, floating and more

Sand Spring Resort and Canoe (Niangua)
Lodging, camping, floating, fishing and more

Twin Bridges Canoe & Campground (North Fork)
Lodging, camping, floating, fishing and horse camping

Beaver Creek, Elk and James Rivers

Map of float locations on Beaver Creek, Elk and James Rivers.
Click image to open map.

Beaver Creek Canoe Rental, Campground & Cabins (Beaver Creek)
Lodging, camping and floating

Big Elk Camp & Canoe (Elk)
Camping, lodging and floating

Eagles Nest Camp and Canoe (Elk)
RV park, camping and floating

Elk River Floats (Elk)
Lodging, camping and floating

James River Outfitters (James)
Camping, lodging and floating

River Ranch Resort (Elk)
Cabins, glamping pods, campground and floating

Two Sons Floats and Camping (Elk)
RV camping, camping, floating and more

Eleven Point, Jacks Fork, Current and Black Rivers

Map of float locations on Eleven Point, Jacks Fork, Current and Black Rivers.
Click image to open map.

Akers Ferry Canoe Rental (Current and Jacks Fork)
Lodging, camping, floating and more

Bearcat Getaway (Black)
Floating, camping and lodging

Carr’s Canoe Rental and Round Spring Campground (Current)
Camping and floating

Current River Canoe Rental (Current)
Camping and floating

Eminence Cottages and Camp (Current and Jacks Fork)
Lodging and camping

Hufstedler’s Canoe Rental (Eleven Point)
Lodging, camping and floating

Jacks Fork Canoe Rental & Campground (Jacks Fork)
Full RV hookups, camping and floating

Rocky River Resort (Current)
Camping, RV park and floating

Two people wearing lifevests and hats paddle a canoe floating in water. The canoe is filled with jugs, buckets, and other supplies.
Make sure to bring all of the essentials for your float trip.

What to Bring?

Outfitters located close to Missouri’s floating rivers rent canoes, kayaks, rafts, tubes and provide transportation up and down the river. Some offer lodging and campgrounds, too. 

The three essentials you need to bring on any float trip are a life jacket, water and sunscreen.
(Most outfitters include life jackets with their rentals.) Bug spray and a hat or sun visor are also good to have.

Missouri’s riverbeds and banks can be rocky, so a pair of water shoes or sports sandals can help protect your feet. 

You might want to bring food, including Missouri-made snacks, and a cooler filled with drinks for a snack on the river or a picnic lunch on a bank.

If your float trip is longer than a day, make sure you are prepared with camping gear, and plenty of food and water

Finally, bring a container for trash to help keep the river clean. You can be fined for littering, including leaving cans loose in your boat.

One Last Thing … 

Before you head out the door, take time to check the river conditions. Be prepared to make the safest decisions for you and your group, even if that means postponing your trip. Your outfitter is a great resource to help make those important decisions.

That’s it — all the basic information you need to enjoy a Missouri float trip.

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