Top 10 Canoe Float Trips In Missouri

Dated: 05/28/2020

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Canoeing down the river

Missouri is home to some of the best rivers to float in the US. What better way to stay cool during a hot and humid Missouri summer than by planning an awesome float trip with your friends and family. Here are a few of the best float trips in Missouri to get you started!

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Going on a float trip? Check out our Ultimate Float Trip
Packing Essentials 
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Float Trips In Missouri 3 Hours (or less) From St. Louis:

1. Big River

Big River, MO
Floating down the Big River, MO

The Big River is a great place for a float trip if you are looking to do some hiking or exploring during your trip. The Big River flows right through the banks of Washington State Park, Twin River Park, Cedar Hill Park, and St. Francois State Park. About a 45-minute drive from St. Louis, it's perfect for a day float trip. The slow-moving waters also make it a perfect spot for some fishing or canoeing!

Where to Rent: Cherokee Landing has outstanding customer service and great prices on their float trip rental equipment. The staff is very accommodating and will help you if you have any questions.

Where to Stay: This modern victorian home on AirBnb fits 6 adults, perfect for a friend float trip weekend! If you are looking to camp right on the river Washington State Park campground offers spaced out sites and clean nice facilities!

Get $40 off your first Airbnb rental by clicking here! 

2. Black River

Black River Float Trip
Black River Float Trip

Located 2 hours from St. Louis, the Black River is known for its incredible Ozark scenery. While enjoying your float trip you will pass through sandstone bluffs and have a chance to spot some wildlife on the banks. If you enjoy fishing the upper part of the river is great for bass fishing. The eastern part of the river also runs through Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. This part of the river is not navigable by boat but it is an awesome place to go swimming!

Where to Rent: Don’t let the shack scare you at Franklin Floats. Bob is one of the friendliest guys and will take care of all of your needs for your float trip!

Where to Stay: There are a lot of really nice cabins that you can rent situated along the Black River such as the Wilderness Lodge Resort. Lesterville is the closest town to the Black River but does not have many choices for accommodation. We recommend Crocker’s Country Charm BnB for their close location to the river and friendly hosts.  

Read: Truman Lake - The Best Getaway Lake In Missouri

3. Gasconade River

The Gasconade River
Floating down the Gasconade River

The Gasconade River is about a 2 hour drive from St. Louis. The river can get fast at times, but for the most part it's a calm, relaxing float trip. The Gasconade rivers offers some impressive scenery around the Ozark area and since the float is through Mark Twain National Forest there are lots of options for hiking, camping and exploring on the river shores.

Where to Rent: Gasconade Hills Resort is mostly known for their lovely accommodation but they also rent out float trip supplies. There are not many places to rent canoes or kayaks along the Gasconade River so choose your supplier wisely.

Where to Stay: The Gasconade river is in close proximity to The Big Piney River and both rivers share St. Robert as their closest town with accommodation. We recommend Hampton Inn St. Robert for their sustainable practices and close proximity to the river.. If you are looking for a more rustic secluded experience check out the cabins at Blue Jay Farm.

Time to start packing - Get your Float Trip Checklist here!

4. Current River

Canoeing the Current River
Floating down the Current River  [via]

Located just 2 hours and 40 minutes from St. Louis the current river runs through Dent, Shannon, Carter and Ripley counties. During the summer months the river can get a bit crowded. If you are looking for a crowd-less day we suggest you visit during late spring or early fall. The Current River runs through Montauk and Current River State Park which both offer some incredible scenery as you pass through on your float trip. Don’t forget to check out the natural springs that supply some of the river water while you’re here!

You can also do a 40 mile overnight trip and sleep for free on the banks of the river. Or you can camp in one of the 6 organized campgrounds along the river. Otherwise there are 11 or 22 miles day trips that will have you home by supper!

Where to Rent: Carr’s Canoe Rental is one of the best places to rent floating devices from. They are super laid back and have great customer service. We loved our float trip when we went with them!

Where to Stay: Echo Bluff State Park has some amazing cabins perched high on the bluffs of the current river. They also have a lodge where you can rent hotel rooms. There is even a restaurant in the state park near the cabins and hotel. The current river is closest to Salem, which only has one choice for accommodation in the whole town, Crossroads Inn and Suites.

Going on a camping/float trip? Make sure you have the best 4 person tent for your trip!

5. Meramec River

Meramec River at sunset
The Meramec River at sunset

The Meramec river is a very well known river for its float trips. Flowing through Meramec Spring Park and onto Meramec State Park you will experience some of the best scenery Missouri has to offer. Meramec State Park is about a 2 hour drive from St. Louis and has a lot of other activities to keep you busy such as hiking, camping and exploring its’ 40 different caves.

Where to Rent: Browne Canoe Rental is known as a “favorite hideaway” among locals. With no website it’s best to call (573) 775-5542 to get rates on rentals.

Where to Stay: Blue Springs Ranch has everything you need in a weekend getaway for the family. The ranch has their own zip-line and goats you can hang out with. Each cabin also comes complete with a fire ring and BBQ grill. The closest town with accommodation to the Meramec River is Sullivan. Although, there aren’t many accommodation choices in Sullivan. We recommend staying at the Comfort Inn Sullivan.

Float Trips in Missouri 2 Hours (or less) From Springfield:

6. Elk River

Bluffs at the Elk River
Bluffs on the Elk River [via]

Flowing through McDonald County, Elk River is a favorite float trip destination among Missourians. Even though its a 5 hour drive from St. Louis, this river has so much to offer in terms of the many different rental companies, resorts and campgrounds along its banks. The river also has a large bass populations for those who like to fish. Try to put your tubes or canoes in at the low water bridge near Sugar Creek State Park!

Where to Rent: Big Elk Floats and Campground is known for their incredible customer service and beautiful campground. You can even rent a seat-back or cushion for your canoe/kayak for an extra $5.

Where to Stay: Check out The Cabins at Ginger Blue for nice cabins right off the river. The closest town to Elk River with a hotel is Anderson, although your only choice for a hotel is an EconoLodge. For budget accommodation we recommend camping at Lazy Days Campground right off the river.

7. North Fork River

North Fork River
The North Fork River [via]

The North Fork river goes through the upper part of Mark Twain National forest and goes all the way down into Arkansa. The river is about a 3 hour drive away from St. Louis and is a great option for spending a day or weekend on the river. The river is rated as a I and II category river so some parts could get exciting! Just make sure to always be careful while enjoying Missouri’s rivers.

Where to Rent: Sunburst Ranch Canoe Rental and Campground is unique because their campground is situated right on the river and the staff will shuttle you up river the day of your float trip and then you float right back to your campsite! If you want to float again the next day you can float downstream from the campsite and the staff will wait for you to call them to pick you up when you’re done floating! Talk about some customer service!

Where to Stay: River of Life Farm is situated right along the North Fork River and offers rustic, secluded cabins with a great view. They even have TREEHOUSE cabins! Couldn’t get much better than that.

The Ultimate Float Trip Packing List- What to Bring on a Float Trip

8. Jack's Fork River

Jack's Fork River
Overview of Jack's Fork River

Jack's Fork River is a tributary of Current River and is described as one of the wildest and most scenic of the Missouri Ozarks. The Jacks Fork is essentially a deep valley with jagged dramatic cliffs rising along both sides of the river for the first 25 floatable miles. About a 3 hour drive from St. Louis, The Jacks Fork is a river for the adventurous and more experienced float trippers.

Where to Rent: Windy’s Canoe Rentals has been impressing their customers with excellent customer service for many years. They will even pick you up and drop you off where you are staying!

Where to Stay: If looking for a great camping spot Alley Springs Campground has great clean facilities and raving reviews. The closest town to Jacks Fork is Eminence which has a few options including a few AirBnBs. Pine Hollow Cabin is a great option if you're bringing a few friends. It's reasonably priced and sleeps 6 people! 

9. Big Piney River

Big Piney River Missouri
The Big Piney River [via]

The Big Piney River is located just a 2.5 hour drive from St. Louis and is home to the rare blue stripe darter fish. Many people enjoy floating the Big Piney for its fishing, which is best at the upper and middle section of the river. The scenery is definitely something to boast about- tall jagged bluffs overlook the river and there are plenty of secret swimming spots to discover along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for wild turkeys!

Where to Rent: Boiling Springs Resort offers great prices on their float trip gear rentals and has some awesome customer service. If doing an overnight float trip they will shuttle you and your vehicle to where you need to go.

Where to Stay: Saint Roberts, the closest town to the Big Piney River, has plenty of accommodation to choose from. We recommend Hampton Inn St. Robert for their sustainable practices and close proximity to the river. If looking for a more rustic experience check out this amazing AirBnb cabin rental right on the bluffs of the Big Piney River.  

Get $40 off your first Airbnb rental by clicking here! 

Float Trips In Missouri 4 Hours (or less) From St. Louis:

10. Eleven Point River

Greer Spring at Eleven Point River
Greer Spring feeds into the Eleven Point River [via]

The Eleven Point River is definitely worth the 3.5 hour drive if coming from St. Louis. This river runs 138 miles through Southern Missouri and Arkansa and is home to some incredible scenery. It is also supplied by the enormous Greer Spring, the 10th largest freshwater spring in the world! Sometimes the river can be a bit difficult to navigate, so check water levels before planning your trip.

Where to Rent: Eleven Point River Canoe Rental offers all you need for a enjoyable float trip. They will even drop you off and pick you up so you have no need to worry about transportation.

Where to Stay: There are some quaint cabin AirBnbs all in close proximity to the Eleven Point. Other than Airbnb’s there are not a lot of options for lodging including pitching your tent and camping near the Eleven Point. We recommend Greer Crossing Recreation Campground for its clean facilities and superb location.

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Jolene Parham

Jolene is a Listing and Buyer Specialist on the Michelle Cantrell team. She has four years of experience in selling real estate in the Springfield area. She has over twenty years in customer service r....

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