Go for the Views
Buffalo National River | Ponca, Arkansas
Floating on the Buffalo National River is practically an Ozarks rite of passage. According to the National Park Service, this waterway became America’s first national river when it was established in 1972. To experience some of the 151 miles, there are a few outfitter options. Buffalo Outdoor Center (4699 AR-43 Highway, Ponca, Arkansas; 870-861-5514) is one of the most popular, with more than 40 years of experience. Another go-to is the family-owned Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging (AR-43, Ponca, Arkansas; 870-861-5522). Both have day-use kayak and canoe rentals, plus shuttles for when you need a ride after your float.
Go With a Big Group
Niangua River | Lebanon, Missouri
The next time you need to celebrate an event, make reservations with the NRO Canoe Rental & Campground (171 NRO Rd., Lebanon; 417-523-6333). The outfitter, located along the Niangua River, is very popular and can accommodate guests who want a lively atmosphere. It also offers float trips throughout the week, with trips lasting anywhere from three hours to six hours. Once you’re done, don’t forget to take advantage of the zipline located on the property. Pro trip: If you choose the shorter option, stop by Bennett Spring State Park, which is a close 4 miles away.