5 Best Float Trips

Go off the grid this weekend. Ditch your smartphone and check out our five best nearby floats to take this summer.

Written by Lillian Stone | Photo by Starboard & Port Creative

May 2016

Gran a canoe and start paddling down the Buffalo River.

1. Buffalo River

Four-to six-hour float from Ponca to Kyle’s Landing. For more information, call Buffalo Outdoor Center at 1-870-861-5514.
Why it’s Great: The Buffalo offers breathtaking views of the Ozark Mountains and several sites for camping and hiking. The river is best enjoyed in May before the dry season begins. 
Don’t Miss: Keep your eyes open for Big Bluff natural bluff face and Hemmed-In Hollow waterfall.

2. North Fork River

Four-hour float from Sunburst Ranch to The Landing. Call Sunburst Ranch at 417-284-3443.
Why it’s Great: The scenic North Fork River will dazzle you with its crystal-clear waters and multiple natural springs.
Don’t Miss: This float offers access to Althea Spring, one of the most picturesque spots on the North Fork. To access the spring, pull your canoe over at Patrick Bridge and follow the path through the woods. Daring floaters will take the plunge into the spring’s icy pool.

3. Eleven Point River

Eight-to-10-hour overnight float from Greer to Riverton. Call Eleven Point Canoe Rental at 417-778-6497.
Why it’s Great: The Eleven Point National Scenic River was preserved by Congress under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The river is still largely wild, making the Eleven Point a perfect destination for a relaxing weekend getaway.
Don’t Miss: Be sure to check out nearby Greer Spring. The second-largest spring in Missouri is accessed via a trail descending from Missouri Highway 19.

4. Beaver Creek

Four-to-six-hour float from Rome to Beaver Creek Canoe Rental. Call Beaver Creek Canoe Rental at 417-796-2336.
Why it’s Great: Beaver Creek, a favorite with fly fishermen, is popular due to its good gradient and roomy banks. The large creek is best enjoyed in May before the dry season due to a less constant water supply.
Don’t Miss: The views as you float through Mark Twain National Forest are truly spectacular. 

5. Elk River

Four-to-six-hour float from Elk River Campground to Wayside Campground. Contact campground management at 417-475-3230.
Why it’s Great: The Elk River, known for its unusually clear waters, has become a favorite destination for canoeists, kayakers and fishermen in southwest Missouri. Visitors looking for a lively river experience won’t be disappointed—the Elk River is a hub for many jolly floaters looking for a good time.
Don’t Miss: Outdoorsmen rejoice: The Elk is a prime destination for smallmouth bass fishing.