February 15, 2017

by Breant Frazee on kansascity.com

Towering bluffs, gurgling riffles, timbered hillsides, pools where schools of fish scatter at the sight of an advancing canoe — that’s the Ozarks at its best.

Each year, thousands of people launch their canoes and paddle into the most beautiful scenery southern Missouri offers. If you’re looking for a peaceful, get-back-to-nature experience, plan on floating midweek. If you’re looking for plenty of company and a party atmosphere, hit the weekends.

Where? Here are 10 options.

1. CURRENT RIVER:The Current is protected from development because of its designation as a National Scenic Riverway. Good thing. The river is an Ozarks jewel, with towering bluffs, springs, caves, and swift current. One of the most-popular float streams in Missouri. Canoe rental available in Eminence, Salem, Van Buren, Jadwin, Doniphan and Akers Ferry.

2. JACKS FORK RIVER:The Jacks Fork is the Current River’s sister in the National Scenic Riverways Park. Actually a tributary of the Current, it has a face of its own. It is recognized as one of the Ozarks’ most scenic rivers. The first 25 miles are set in a deep valley. Canoe rental in Salem, Van Buren and Eminence.

3. ELEVEN POINT RIVER:Another National Scenic River, the Eleven Point is fed by Greer Spring, the second largest spring in Missouri. Below Greer Spring, the cold water that rushes into the water supports an impressive population of trout. Canoe rental in Alton and Riverton.

4. BLACK RIVER: The Black provides some of the most stunning scenery in the state. Floaters can get a close look at Taum Sauk Mountain, the tallest peak in Missouri, and enjoy outstanding smallmouth bass fishing in the upper stretches. Canoe rental in Lesterville.

5. ST. FRANCIS RIVER: This river looks more like something you’d find out West rather than in the Ozarks. With its steep gradient, it’s one of the few places in Missouri where you’ll find whitewater — and challenging whitewater at that. It’s narrow, boulder-strewn bed excites even the most experienced canoeists and kayakers. Canoe rental in Patterson.

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