Missouri Floating Tips from an Outfitter

Paddlesports are very popular activities that appeal to people of all ages, and the great state of Missouri offers some of the most beautiful streams in the country.

Meramec River State Park float

Nearly all of Missouri’s navigable streams and rivers are located in the Ozarks (or Southern Missouri). Some of our streams flow south but some of them flow north, adding to our unique character as a state. And even though our rivers have individual identities, there are some floating tips that apply anywhere you go.

  1. Plan Ahead.

Saturdays are the busiest day on the river. If you rent equipment from an outfitter, reservations are recommended – especially if you float on a Saturday. If you have your own equipment, know that some access points have very limited parking.

  1. Ask Questions

If you plan to float with children, ask the outfitter if the river is child friendly. Most of our waterways in Missouri are considered to be a “beginner’s river” but some locations require a higher skill level to navigate.  Also, some locations are more suitable for adults only, especially on Saturdays.

  1. Pack the Essentials

Before heading out on your floating adventure, be sure to include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant
  • Drinks, especially water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Cooler
  • Bunji cord/ rope

Secure the cooler to your watercraft with the bunji cord or rope. (Don’t forget to secure the lid of your cooler!) When applying sunscreen, don’t forget the top of your feet and legs – these areas burn quickly.

Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. If you drink alcohol or soda, drink a bottle of water for every two of those beverages. Alcohol and soda will NOT keep you hydrated.

  1. Expect to get wet!

Meramec River SP float 2

Cell phones and keys are the top items that are ruined on float trips. Many outfitters will even store these items until you return. If you take items that cannot get wet, use a good dry bag to keep them safe. You may also want to protect your glasses or sunglasses by using an eyeglass cord … there are even cords that float.

  1. Relax and Enjoy

Meramec River SP float 3

When you’ve managed to escape the demands of your daily life, don’t forget to relax.  Take a deep breath, look around and the peace of the river will begin to rejuvenate you.


Other useful information:

*No glass on the rivers – it’s the law!

*Purple paint means “NO TRESPASSING”.

*Lifejackets save lives.

*Floodwater is NOT whitewater.

*Floating refers to canoeing, rafting, tubing and kayaking.


Written by Michelle Lambeth, executive director for the Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association.

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