Before embarking on float trips in Missouri, you will want to make sure you’re prepared. While rental locations generally provide canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes along with life jackets and safety equipment, there are a few things you will need to bring.
You’ll need lots of water. Especially if you are going on a float trip that will last the majority of the day, you will need to bring water to keep you hydrated. It is not recommended that you drink river water, so bringing bottled water is a must. Freezing the bottled water the day before will help the water stay cooler longer.
It’s also a good idea to bring food and snacks. You will be burning plenty of calories on your float trip and you are bound to get hungry. Pack snacks that will last through the heat and make sure to enclose your food in zip lock or waterproof bags just in case.
What to Bring With –
Bring a cell phone. While unplugging on a float trip is a good idea, having at least one cell phone with you while you are on the water is a good idea. Just in case you get lost or need assistance, a cell phone can provide the help you need to get back to shore. It is also handy if you need to call the rental shop in case you have a problem with the equipment, or have any other questions or concerns.
Other helpful things to bring include sunscreen (you will likely be reapplying throughout the day), water shoes (in case you go hiking or your kayak capsizes) and a cooler that can hold extra water and food.
You should consider bringing a friend or family member with you on your float trip. Kayaking alone can be dangerous, especially if you are new to the sport. Having company can help pass the time down river, give you a companion to share lunch with and even provide safety on a long trip.
There are many places to rent canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes in Missouri. The crystal-clear waters of the Ozarks make it a prime destination for float trips. Whether you have vacation time in the summer, spring or fall, Missouri can provide you with relaxing float trips that will provide memories for a lifetime.
When choosing a float trip destination, consider the options that the rental place provides. Will you need equipment? General supplies? A campsite? Each location offers different amenities. A lot of the companies are also family owned and operated offering you personalized knowledge of the area and surrounding attractions.
We have chosen our top ten rentals in Missouri. Each one provides a unique float trip experience with picturesque views of the Ozarks. Whether you are traveling with one or two people or a large family, the following rental companies will work with you to ensure you have a great time on your Missouri float trips.
Franklin Floats is one of the oldest canoe rentals on the Upper Black River. They provide knowledge about the area, custom floats and a shuttle service.
Franklin Floats is open year-round and includes a variety of amenities including a general store, campground with a stage, firewood, trash barrels, picnic area, hot showers and modern toilets.
The area is partially wheelchair accessible, service animals and pets are welcome and reservations are recommended, especially during the busy season.
You can rent kayaks, tubes, rafts and canoes. Preferred payment is cash and group discounts are available.
32294 Route 21
Lesterville, MO 63654
Please call 573-637-2205 for rental information.
Carr’s Canoe Rental is located at Round Spring Campground on Highway 19 just before the Current River Bridge. The campground is 2.5 hours from Springfield, Missouri and 3 hours from Saint Louis and Columbia, Missouri respectively. Carr’s Canoe Rental has been family owned and operated for over thirty years. It is located in the heart of the Ozark national scenic riverway. They offer canoe, kayak, tube and raft trips on the upper Current River.
Not only can you take a trip down the water in your canoe, kayak, tube or raft but you can also enjoy fishing, sight-seeing and camping. You will enjoy the area’s natural caves and springs.
Carr’s is great for everyone from newbies to the experienced canoeist. The free shuttle service is provided on both the entry and exit of the river path. All rentals receive U.S. approved life jackets and paddles. This equipment is provided at no additional cost with your rental.
Canoe trips start at 11 miles and take approximately 4-6 hours to complete. For advanced canoeists, there are 40-mile trips available that take approximately 15-16 hours and two days to complete.
Kayak trips are similar to canoe routes. Single kayak rentals are available for adults and kids as young as 10 years old. A shuttle service is also provided for kayak renters.
Tubing rentals are also available. Tubing is a great option for families of all ages. Take a scheduled trip or simply spend the day floating near the shore.
Please call 1-800-333-3956 to make reservations. Reservations are necessary to make sure they have equipment available for you to rent. Calling ahead also helps them prepare for your visit.
When you make a reservation, please be ready to provide the following information: name or organization, address, phone number, number of canoes you will be renting, date of trip and trip desired.
If you need to cancel a reservation, you must do so four days before your planned float trip to avoid paying for the equipment that is being held in your name. This give Carr’s Canoe Rental time to get a replacement reservation. If you do not cancel your reservation in the required time frame, you will be charged for an equipment that was on hold for you.
However, if you are present for your rental and the National Park Service deems the river too hazardous due to rain or other severe weather issues, you will receive a refund. This refund will only be issued if the river is still not passable at noon of your rental day. If the weather lifts at noon or any time before, you will be required to honor your reservation.
If you are interested in spending the night at Round Spring Campground, you can make a reservation by visiting recreation.gov. The campground is maintained by the National Park Service. There are 56 campsites and 9 group sites. There are even 6 new sites that allow for electric hookups.
There are over 15 nearby places to stay if you prefer more modern lodging. You can choose from nature retreats, lodges, motels, cottages, cabins, inns and bread and breakfast options.
Rates are listed per canoe on their website and are affordable. Discounted group rates are also available.
Carr’s Canoe Rental
HCR 1, Box 137
Eminence, MO 65466-9711
Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort is hidden in the rolling Missouri hills, just past the country town of Leasburg. The resort was established in 1960 and is just 7 miles off of I-44. It’s the perfect place to unplug and just relax.
Ozark Outdoors offers the choice of canoe, kayak, raft or tube rentals. They specialize in scenic paddling (or float) trips. You can choose from three rivers, Huzzah, Coutois and Meramec.
The resort is great for people who want to stay in a rustic cabin as well as those who prefer modern lodging at their river resort.
If you prefer to camp while you are at Ozark Outdoors, they have got you covered. A generous number of RV sites include 50-amp hookups plus water and sewer services. Or take advantage of their 110-acre land space and pitch a tent to take in the stars.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day enjoy swimming pool access for all paying guests, as well as private hiking trails, fishing honey holes, bike trails, and playground equipment for the kids. Ozark Outdoors even offers discounted tickets to nearby attractions such as Onondaga Cave.
Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort
200 Ozark Outdoor Lane
Leasburg, Missouri 66535
Big Elk Floats & Camping is family owned and operated specializing in outdoor fun. Established in 1989, it is located on the south side of the Elk River bridge in Pineville, Missouri. Take float trips on Missouri’s Elk River & Big Sugar Creek. Big Elk Floats & Camping is open year-round.
Amenities include a grocery and general store, free Wi-Fi, high-quality equipment rentals and modern RV hook ups with water, sewer and electricity. Additional camping amenities include large beaches, volleyball court, basketball court, two bathhouses and propane available for purchase.
Big Elk Floats & Camping will help you plan your next family float trip. Reservations are recommended. Float trips depart between 8am and 2pm daily.
Rentals include canoes, kayaks and 6-8-man rafts.
Group discounts are available off season and you must have 40+ to qualify.
Big Elk Floats & Camping
5029 South Business Highway 71
Pineville, MO 64856
Missouri River Excursions provides visitors with canoe, kayak and raft rentals. Pricing is affordable and includes a shuttle and all safety equipment.
Half day and full day trips are available. Full day trips begin at 8:30 AM so you have enough time to complete your float. There is also a two-day float trip available. Begin your trip in Herman, Missouri and end in Weldon Springs. Camp overnight on the sand bars. Trips are only available on the weekend unless you are renting three or more vessels.
Reservations are required. A 50% deposit is required to make your reservation and must be completed within two weeks of your float trip. No refunds but trips can be rescheduled.
Missouri River Excursions
2894 South Hwy 94
Defiance, MO 63341
Huzzah Valley Resort was established in 1979 and has been offering trips on the Huzzah, Courtois and Meramec Rivers ever since.
The resort is a full-service resort offering camping, cabins, canoeing and more for a complete trip. While most people visit Huzzah Valley Resort in the summer, there are advantages to visiting in the
spring and fall. In the spring, there are beautiful dogwoods and redbuds in bloom. In the fall you can view the picturesque turning of the leaves into bright yellow, gold and red. Plus, when you visit the resort in the spring or fall you will pay the off-season price which is a considerable discount to in-season summer pricing.
Huzzah River also contains crystal clear water that invites you to swim, fish and just relax in the calming waters.
If you are an avid camper, you will be impressed with the campsites at Huzzah Valley Resort. All of the campsites are located near beaches for relaxing views of the water. You will also enjoy areas for swimming, playgrounds for the kids and convenient barbeque facilities.
If camping is not for you, they offer additional modern lodging including cozy cabins and well-appointed houses.
While the resort houses fans of camping and canoeing, there are also opportunities to go horseback riding, participate in hayrides and more.
Near the resort you will find additional attractions including cavern tours, trails, golf courses and wine vineyards.
Huzzah Valley Resort even has online reservations available for quick booking. You can also call to set up your next vacation.
Huzzah Valley Resort
970 E. Hwy 8
Steelville, MO 65565
Old Cove Canoe & Kayak is located less than 1 hour from St. Louis. It opened in 2006 and provides canoe, kayak, raft and tube rentals. If you are traveling with groups of 10+ adults, they also offer campsites for overnight stays.
They offer two float trips, a short float (4.5 miles, 2-3 hours) and a long float (9 miles, 5-6 hours). Both trips start upstream so you conveniently end where you parked your car.
Along each float you will find an abundant about of gravel bars and bluffs to take a breather or have a quick lunch. The stretch of the Meramec River that is used by Old Cove Canoe & Kayak is all stream, creek, and spring fed.
There is camping available at Old Cove & Kayak, however is reserved for floating groups of 10 or more. If you are interested in taking advantage of this option, you will need to contact them by phone to book.
All campsites are riverside. They include camping essentials such as covered pavilions, port-a-potty, chairs, charcoal grill, campfire wood and picnic tables. Rates start at $75 for 10 adults ($5.00 for every additional person). If you are interested in staying two or more nights, the cost per night reduces to $50 ($5.00 for every additional person still applies).
Online booking is available. Old Cove Canoe & Kayak is a seasonal operation. They are open spring to fall, weather permitting. Visit their website for more information.
Old Cove Canoe & Kayak
1316 Old Cove Rd.
St Clair, MO 63077
Phone: (636) 629-2220
Sunburst Ranch provides float trips in Missouri on the North Fork River. They offer canoe, kayak, raft and tube rentals. Lodging is provided via the lodge, landing, the hangar and log cabin.
Sunburst Ranch has a private takeout just 1/2 mile from Dawt Mill. It includes a large scenic gravel bar that is perfect for an afternoon nap while you wait for the shuttle that will take you back to camp. Take your time on your float trip. The shuttle runs every hour on the hour on weekends and busier weekdays so you do not have to worry about getting back at a specific time.
They offer various float trips in Missouri including Hammonds Mill and The Landing. Plus, spring-only floats including Topaz Mill and Hales Crossing.
Fishing is also a popular activity at Sunburst Ranch. The North Fork of the White River provides one of the best free-flowing trophy trout streams in the Ozarks. A section of the river from Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge is considered a Blue-Ribbon Trout Area designating it one of the highest quality streams in the state. Since only one fish per day is allowed, it is a great opportunity for novice and seasoned fishermen.
If you are interested in just relaxing near the shore, Sunburst Ranch has over a mile of riverfront on the North Fork River in Missouri. Bring your own inflatables or take a swim.
Need to stay overnight? The log cabin is away from the float crowds and sleeps 8 people. There are three beds upstairs and a pull-out couch in the living room. The log cabin is equipped with air conditioning, a full kitchen and modern bathroom. Please note there is a two-night minimum stay and the cost is $200 per night.
The Lodge at Trout Island is great for large families. It sleeps 15 with four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. It is fully furnished and includes satellite T.V., washer and dryer and all of the linens you need are also provided. For the ultimate in relaxation, there is a wraparound deck that overlooks the river. There is also a two-night minimum stay at the lodge and the cost per night is $425.
The landing is 1/2 mile from Dawt Mill and is located on a private section of the river. The house sleeps 8. It features 3 beds and a pull-out in the living room, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen. It also has a washer and dryer. The deck overlooks the gravel bar on the river. This is the perfect place if you want to take advantage of float trips. Sunburst Ranch picks up the floaters near the landing in the afternoons. The landing will run you $325 per night with a two-night minimum stay.
The hangar is located on Sunburst Ranch’s airstrip. It is a completely renovated airplane hangar and is a five-minute drive to the river. As a result, it should be noted that you never actually leave the property. It sleeps up to 16 people and is full of amenities like 4 air-conditioned bedrooms, full kitchen, pool table, bar area, and an outdoor grill and firepit area. Linens and cooking utensils are not provided. The hanger is extremely affordable at $320 a night (2-night minimum).
All lodging must be reserved. You will also be required to provide a $200 deposit upfront with your reservation. No smoking is allowed inside the cabins.
To reserve float trips or lodging, give them a call.
776 County Road 352
Caulfield, MO 65626
Jadwin Canoe Rental offered campsites, canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes. Take float trips from 3 to 94 miles. Jadwin Canoe Rental is located in Jadwin, Missouri with picturesque views surrounding the Current River and a recommended location for superb rainbow trout fishing.
You will find crystal clear waters, tall bluffs and rainbow and brown trout that are protected by the National Scenic Riverway. Since the Current is mostly spring-fed, it can be floated nearly year-round.
At Jadewin, you find a variety of canoe and kayak trips from simple one-day excursions to 3+ days. Raft and tube trips are also available. All rentals include life jackets for every person. All children 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket to comply with federal law. There are no trash bins on the float
routes. Any items taken with you on the trip must be brought back with you, preferably in a bag or container that you can properly dispose of after returning.
If you are interested in camping, you can check with The National Park Service. You can make reservations through recreation.gov. If you are an avid camper and prefer to float at your own pace, you are also welcome to camp along the river on a gravel bar.
With camping comes great responsibility. It is recommended that you pick campsites that are well above river level. Extinguish campfires before leaving the site to ensure there is no flame that could re-ignite. Stay out of unmarked caves and take into account current river and weather conditions before leaving on your float trip. Take along a few waterproof containers to help protect any food, snacks, first aid items and valuables like your wallet.
Jadwin Canoe Rental is an authorized partner of the Ozark National Scenic Waterways to provide quality rentals for float trips.
Jadwin Canoe Rental
8754 Hwy K
Gracie’s Canoe Camp is located near Pineville and Noel, Missouri with camping on the Elk River. Gracie’s offers canoeing, kayaking, rafting and float trips.
If this is your first float trip, Gracie’s Canoe Camp is a great place to start. The Elk River is a class 1 to 2 river, perfect for families and novice canoers or kayakers. The water is crystal clear so the kids will enjoy swimming and fishing.
If you are looking to spend a couple days or your summer vacation at Gracie’s Canoe Camp, they have you covered. You can go camping at one of their RV or tent camping spaces or go a more modern luxury route and stay in one of their airconditioned cabins. The cabins accommodate a couple of adults to large families. Cabins include refrigerators, showers and microwaves.
If you are looking for group accommodations, check out The Bunkhouse. The Bunkhouse can sleep up to 12 people and has a full kitchen.
Campsites on the river allow you to experience the picturesque view right from your tent or RV. Gracie’s Canoe Camp has showers, restroom, fire pits, picnic tables and electric hook ups to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
At Gracie’s Canoe Camp pets are welcomed. Bring your pets at no additional charge.
Not ready to fully unplug? Gracie’s Canoe Camp has free wi-fi hotspots around camp to keep you entertained when you need your Internet or social media fix.
Visit their convenient general store to pick up additional ice and firewood. This is perfect if you are traveling a long distance and do not want to haul these items.
Gracie’s Canoe Camp is not open to the general public in the off season but will accommodate large parties or groups.
Gracie’s offers simple pricing on its canoe, kayak and raft rentals. All rentals are just $20 per person.
Additional attractions near Gracie’s Canoe Camp include: Bluff Dwellers Cavern, Centerton State Fish Hatchery, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum and many more.
To make reservations, you can use the online form or simply give them a call.
Gracie’s Canoe Camp
324 Canoe Camp Lane
Pineville, MO 64856
If you are interested in a float trip in the Missouri area, we think you will be pleased with any one of the destinations above.
While most people will travel to Missouri in the summer for a float trip or summer vacation on the water, summer is not the only time to visit.
Visiting the Ozark area in March and April is great for navigating small creeks upstream. These small creeks are generally not easy to navigate in the summer and are breathtaking in March and April. The Courtois and Huzzah for example are beautiful in the spring.
If you do not like crowds, consider starting your floating trip earlier in the morning. For example, most people and families do not start their float trip until 10am or 11am. If you get around just a couple of hours earlier, you can beat the crowds and get a head start on your trip. This can be the perfect time to start since by the time you are ready to break for lunch you will be much further along. It might even give you a little more time to enjoy the nature around you and allow you to float at a more leisurely pace.
If you are planning on a short float trip, you may also benefit from starting later in the day. Most rental places offer late float starts for smaller mileage trips, with some offering start times as late as 3pm.
The fall is also a great time to take a float trip. Experience the leaves changing to beautiful hues of red, gold and yellow in Missouri, a Midwest tradition. There are far fewer guests during mid-September through October so you can still take advantage of the warmer weather without the crowds. Enjoy cool nights around the campfire with family and friends.
Consider asking the rental place what the less popular float trips are. All of the float trips Missouri offer gorgeous scenery and with less people to contend with, you might just notice something new as well.
If you normally canoe try a kayak and if you normally kayak try a raft or tube. Simply experiencing the same float trip with a different piece of equipment can feel like a new experience in itself.
If you must experience your float trip in the busy summer months, you can still take advantage of days of the week that are not as busy. Sundays and Monday through Thursdays are the least busy days on the water. This is great for new families or for smaller groups that prefer a quieter experience.
Regardless of when you choose to take a float trip, make sure you reserve your equipment and campsite or lodging (if necessary) ahead of time. Doing so will ensure that you have stress-free experience when you get to your destination. Reservations are a huge help to the rental company as they can prepare your equipment ahead of time and account for the number of people on the water.
Are you planning a float trip to Missouri? We would love to hear what your favorite float destinations are in the comments.