Ozark National Scenic Riverways
by Jason Jenkins
photo by Bob McEowen
Whether you choose a canoe, kayak, raft or inner tube, floating a spring-fed Ozark stream is a right of summer. Rivers across the southern portion of the Show-Me State offer plenty of crystal-clear water for floating, fishing and fun.
By far, one of the most popular float streams is the Current River, which is featured on our cover this month. A section of this waterway, along with a portion of the Jacks Fork River, make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which when dedicated in 1964, became the first national park area to protect a wild river system.
Outfitters along the river offer tube, canoe and kayak rentals. For those new to floating, a day or half-day float is the perfect way to get acquainted with these beautiful streams. A popular day float on the upper Current is from Akers Ferry to Pulltite campground. The scenic limestone bluffs along this stretch also offer a chance to explore Cave Spring, seen at left, which provides a cool respite along your journey.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and have the time to spare, camping on a gravel bar is one of the most delightful aspects of floating in the Ozarks. In the heat of July, the gravel bar usually will be one of the cooler places with fewer biting insects like mosquitoes. Be sure to bring your fishing gear with you, too.
When floating the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, certain rules apply. Glass containers and beer kegs are not allowed on the rivers within the park boundary. Also prohibited are all forms of polystyrene or Styrofoam food and beverage coolers. Coolers also must have a latch to prevent spilling their contents should a canoe capsize.
For more information on floating the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, visit www.nps.gov/ozar/ or call 573-323-4236.