Hitchhiker’s Guide To Floating in Pulaski County

Merriam-Webster defines floating as “continually moving or changing position.” In the Ozarks, floating is an art form, sometimes even a lifestyle, that involves canoes, kayaks, paddles, a river and family and friends. People float from a location on the river downstream to another location on the river. The exact destinations on Pulaski County’s Big Piney or Gasconade Rivers that are chosen are not as important as the journey between the two points – it is the in-between that will have your family telling stories and sharing memories for years to come.

Pulaski County’s friendly outfitters can help plan family outings on our gentle and scenic rivers. They offer float trips, fishing and swimming. Some offer camping, cabins and RV sites. Two unique camping options are Roubidoux Springs Campground & RV Park (573-774-6171) and Shundahai Campground (573-336-1226). Roubidoux Springs Campground, a favorite with trout anglers, is on the banks of the Roubidoux River in downtown Waynesville. A camp spot here is within walking distance of one of only seven certified Trail of Tears National Historic Trail sites in Missouri. Also within walking distance are antiquing, dining, nightlife and shopping. Shundahai Campground offers TeePee camping, 17 acres to hike and explore and 200 feet of beautiful Big Piney riverfront. Also, there are plentiful hotel and lodging options in Saint Robert.


Photo courtesy of Shundahai Campground.


Boiling Spring Campground offers several float trip options. Their most popular floats range from three to eight miles. For folks who keep track of how many Missouri rivers they have paddled, Boiling Spring Campground floats offer the option to float portions of the Big Piney and the Gasconade River in the same float trip. For the hardcore river rat they offer overnight floats; even a “51 Mile Float” that allows you to experience the majority of Pulaski County from the meandering Gasconade and her beautiful waters.

Boiling Spring
Photo courtesy of Boiling Spring Campground.

The Cave Restaurant & Resort overlooks, and offers floats on the beautiful Gasconade River. The Gasconade has been described as “a wonderful run, [with] steep bluffs, gorgeous cuts, hairpin turns and lazy eddies” in The Rivers of Missouri. The Cave’s float trips can be upgraded to include lunch from their world-famous restaurant.

Gasconade Hills Resort offers day trips on the Gasconade River ranging from four to 10 miles and overnight trips ranging from 13 to 21 miles. Route 66 enthusiasts will get a kick out of the four mile float that ends at the Hazelgreen 1924 Route 66 Bridge.

Lay Z Day Canoes & Camping offers float trips ranging from four to 11 miles on the Big Piney River. The Big Piney is a renowned fishing stream; the dramatic limestone bluffs are topped with pine trees that lend the river its name. Paddle your way downriver by the light of the moon on one of Lay Z Day Canoes & Camping’s “Full Moon Floats.”

Lay Z Day
Photo courtesy of Lay Z Day.

Rich’s Last Resort offers seven and 15 mile one-day floats on the Big Piney River. If one day isn’t enough to curb your canoeing appetite you can also sign on for a 45 mile paddle.

Route 66 Canoe is located on one of the oldest alignments of Route 66 in the country, actually predating the Mother Road; this gravel was once Route 14. Route 66 Canoe offers float trips on both the Big Piney and the Gasconade Rivers.


Photo courtesy of Route 66 Canoe.
Photo courtesy of Route 66 Canoe.

Wilderness Ridge Resort offers seven and 15 mile floats on the Big Piney River. Also, they offer two-day floats from either Slabtown or Mason Bridge.

Devils Elbow River Safari (573-336-7979) and RichCo River Services (573-435-6669) can outfit your family for a float on the Big Piney River.

Pulaski County’s outfitters have canoes, kayaks, rafts, inner tubes and even jon boats available for your river excursion. Check with the outfitter for specifics and details.

Many outfitters offer put in/pull out access for those who have their own canoes. Some offer shuttle service for privately-owned craft. Missouri Department of Conservation’s revised “Paddlers Guide To Missouri” is a resource for planning your independent float in Pulaski County.

For more information about lodging, dining and things to see and do in Pulaski County USA visit www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com, or call 877-858-8687 to order your complimentary Visitors Guide.

 Written by Laura Huffman from the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

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