Float Missouri's Niangua River

Prime fishing and gorgeous scenery make the popular Niangua River worth the trip.

By Vivian Wheeler, Sony Hocklander

Jun 2024

Bennett Spring on the Niangua River in Missouri
Photo courtesy ShutterstockBennett Spring and its plentiful fish feed into the Niangua River.

Forming near Marshfield in Webster County and flowing for about 125 miles north by northwest through southern and central Missouri, the Niangua River boasts some of the best fishing in the state. In fact it’s the Niangua that Bennett Spring feeds into, creating an angler’s paradise stocked with rainbow trout. Along with trout, on the river you’ll find bass, catfish, goggle-eye and other game fish. If fishing isn’t your thing, don’t worry; the Niangua has plenty else to offer. 

Fed by numerous springs, the Niangua stays cool all season and, under the right conditions, is floatable all year long. Much of the river is surrounded by undeveloped, natural land where wildlife abounds. Its modest current and shallow gradient mean you’ll find easy floats that all level of paddlers can enjoy. The best floating on the Niangua happens on the upper sections of the Niangua and just below Bennett Spring State Park. As much of the best floating happens on the same stretch of the river, the Niangua can get very busy on the weekends, so be prepared for crowds if you can’t manage to make it out on a weekday. It’s just as popular for partying as it is for fishing, so be warned. 

There’s no shortage of outfitters on the Niangua, but many of them cater to a crowd that can get a bit wild. If you’re wanting a quieter camping experience, we recommend checking out Mountain Creek Family Resort & Canoe Rental. They offer an 11.5–mile float that runs from Bennett Spring back to the campground, so there’s no wait to be picked up at the end of a long day on the river. Bonus: The campground features a gigantic Slip-n-Slide that will keep your kids (and you) entertained for hours. 

Niangua River Float Trip Recommendations

Bennett Spring to Mountain Creek | Length: 11.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy

More About the Niangua River

By Sony Hocklander
The Niangua is the only river on this list that flows north. It’s one of the easiest, recreation-packed rivers to access locally.

Fun in the Sun

To float the Niangua on a weekend is akin to joining a floating party. Music on the river? Coolers full of beer? Festive floating friend groups? Check, check and check. If you like to commune with nature in unspoiled wilderness, this is not your river. But for jolly summer weekends with friends, it doesn’t get any easier than to book a cabin or campsite and add a float through one of many river outfitters.

Fishing on the Niangua River

Angling for trout: For many, the Niangua and Bennett Spring State Park are synonymous when it comes to fishing. Each day, Bennett Spring sends more than 100 million gallons of water down a pretty stream branch to the Niangua, making the river floatable nearly year-round and luring anglers of all kinds to fish the park’s trout-stocked waters.

Photo by Josh Beecher

More Floating Adventures


The Ozarks has an abundance of rivers that crisscross the region. Check out the best float trips in Missouri.