The Rivers

Read about Missouri Rivers


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This creek, long a favorite with fly fishermen, is nearly the size of the Niangua River, but has a less constant warer supply. In recent years, Beaver Creek, which flows through the Mark Twain National Forest, has become popular with paddlers, due to its general attractiveness and its good gradient. Summer floats, unless you want to wade and fish, should start in the Bradleyville area or below.*

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This St. Francis River tributary is only floatable in spring and early summer. The Big Creek Shut-ins are one of the main features of Sam A. Baker State Park and are worth seeing by boat when there is sufficient water.*

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The Big Piney is the largest tributary of the Gasconade River and is rated as one of the best fishing streams, especially in its upper and middle reaches where you can view limestone bluffs topped with pines and where there is a good chance to see wild turkey. Numerous good-sized and beautiful springs feed the river so that it is floatable throughout the summer, except in especially dry years.

The lower river, below U.S. Hwy. 66, is less attractive due to some of the blights of civilization, but these last three miles can be tolerated for the sake of the better take-out at the mouth, or a continued trip on the Gasconade.*

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Big Sugar Creek is a 47-mile-long (76 km) waterway in the Ozark Mountains of southwest Missouri. The creek starts near the Arkansas state line. Only about 24 miles (39 km) of this is floatable during the spring and summer. The gradient is near 9 feet per mile from Highway 90 to Cyclone and 6 feet per mile to Pineville, Missouri. Big Sugar starts from three tributaries. One flows north from Garfield, Arkansas, and one, west near Seligman, Missouri, and another, south from Washburn, Missouri. Big Sugar flows west down Sugar Creek Valley, where it is joined by Otter Creek, from Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Flowing north for two or three miles (5 km), Big Sugar is joined by White Oak. Next is the community of Mountain. From Mountain, Big Sugar flows west for two miles (3 km) where Pine Creek joins.

Flowing west, Big Sugar goes through the town of Powell, Missouri. Bentonville Hollow and Creek join Big Sugar at Highway E Bridge. One mile past Powell, Mikes Creek enters from the east. Further down the creek stands the famous Bee Bluff, known for its high cliffs which tower against the side of the mountain. Bee Bluff Hole is known for its deep water and large fish. At the end of Highway V, is Little Cedar Hollow on the right, followed by the Horseshoe Bend just above the town of Cyclone. Next is the town of Cyclone. Big Sugar then splits, the old channel flows to the right and heads into the town of Pineville. The left channel meets Little Sugar Creek, forming Elk River (Oklahoma).

Starting near Powell in McDonald County, Missouri and continuing for approximately 25 miles (40 km) and then ending at the creeks confluence with Little Sugar Creek, is a stretch popular for canoeing and kayaking. In addition to being an absolutely gorgeous place to paddle a canoe, kayak or raft, Big Sugar is also noted for its excellent fishing opportunities. All around the creek is a natural area that is ideal for camping and other outdoors recreation activities.

A recent improvement to the area is the Big Sugar Creek State Park, in which about 80 percent of its more than 2,000 acres (8.1 sq. km) have been designated as the Elk River Breaks Natural Area, and is protected as a perpetual, undeveloped area that features a wide diversity of wildlife, birds, plants and forests. This area of the state has a distinct natural history, featuring many plants and animals that are less common or absent in other areas of Missouri. The park also offers a three-mile (5 km) hiking trail.

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The Big River is a tributary of the Meramec River in east-central Missouri. The river rises in western Iron County, near the summit of Johnson Mountain and the locale of Enough; it flows through Washington County, Saint Francois County, and Jefferson County. It forms part of the boundary between Jefferson County and Saint Francois County and also part of the boundary between Jefferson County and Washington County. It empties into the Meramec River opposite Eureka, where the Meramec forms the border between Jefferson County and Saint Louis County. The river flows through Washington State Park, St. Francois State Park, and the Lead Belt mining district. The elevation of the river at its source is approximately 1,300 feet (400 m) above sea level and at its mouth about 400 feet (120 m). The length of the river is approximately 145 miles (233 km), while the airline distance between source and mouth is about 56 miles (90 km). Its watershed area is 955 square miles (2,470 sq. km).

The river flows though the communities of Belgrade, Caledonia, Irondale, Park Hills, Bonne Terre, Morse Mill, Cedar Hill, Byrnesville, and Byrnes Mill.

Tributaries of Big River include Flat River, Belews Creek, Turkey Creek, Mill Creek, Mineral Fork, Calico Creek, Dulin Creek, and Jones Creek.

Like many other Ozark streams, the Big River has entrenched meanders; its valley is typically about half a mile wide, sometimes much narrower, and the valley is usually from 150 to 400 feet (46 to 120 m) deep. This indicates that this river formed on a plain near sea level, which give the river its meandering nature, and then was subsequently uplifted, causing entrenchment.

About 83 miles (134 km) are navigable; however, the remains of five small mill dams makes portage necessary, due to drops of several feet or high turbulence. Otherwise, the river is gentle for canoeing, with a Class I difficulty rating. Public parks are adjacent to most of these dams, and are popular fishing spots. Due to steady infeed of springwater, this river is navigable in all seasons.

Major pollution sources near Park Hills are due to historic mining activities, which including erosion from mine tailings piles and leaking mine dams.

Major gamefish commonly found in the river include Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, Spotted bass, Rock bass, Longear sunfish, Bluegill, Channel catfish, Flathead catfish, and Redhorse suckers.

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The Black River rises in Missouri as three streams:

The East Fork Black River rises in Iron County and flows generally southwardly, through Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park where the Taum Sauk pumped storage plant Upper Reservoir dam breach caused severe damage to the Park. A dam on the East Fork forms the Taum Sauk Lower Reservoir which was used to pump water to the Upper Reservoir.

The Middle Fork Black River is formed by a confluence of creeks in the Mark Twain National Forest in northern Reynolds County and flows generally southeastwardly.

The West Fork Black River is formed by a confluence of creeks in the Mark Twain National Forest in western Reynolds County and flows generally westwardly, past the town of Centerville.

The headwaters forks converge near Lesterville, and the Black River flows generally southwardly through Reynolds, Wayne and Butler Counties in Missouri; and Clay, Randolph and Lawrence Counties in Arkansas. In its lowermost course the river is used to define the boundary between Independence and Jackson Counties. It flows past the towns of Mill Spring, Williamsville and Poplar Bluff (the largest city along its course) in Missouri; and Pocahontas, Black Rock, and Powhatan in Arkansas. It joins the White River at Jacksonport, Arkansas.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam in Wayne County, Missouri, causes the river to form Clearwater Lake.

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The Bourbeuse River (French for ‘muddy’) is a river located in east-central Missouri, in the Ozarks region, and is one of two major tributaries of the Meramec River, the other being the Big River. The Bourbeuse flows to the northeast from its source near the locale of Dillon in Phelps County, through Maries County, Gasconade County, Crawford County, and Franklin County, where it discharges into the Meramec River near Moselle. The elevation of the river at its source is approximately 1,120 feet (340 m) above sea level and at its mouth about 446 feet (136 m). The total length of the river is 154 miles (248 km), while the airline distance between source and mouth is 53 miles (85 km). The watershed area is 842.9 square miles (2,183 sq. km).

Tributaries of the Bourbeuse River include Spring Creek, Boone Creek, Brush Creek, Red Oak Creek, Dry Fork, Little Bourbeuse River, and Lower Bourbeuse River.

The river’s lower 132 miles (212 km) has permanent flow, but unlike many other Ozark streams of its size, it has a low base flow, due to a paucity of springs feeding it. The river is also low-gradient and tends to be more muddy than other Ozark streams. Usually only the lower 108 miles (174 km) are navigable in summer.

The river is highly crooked: one section, near Noser Mill, has 11 miles (18 km) of river between points less than a half mile apart. 107 miles (172 km) of the river are in Franklin County, and only 27 airline miles. Unusual for a river of its size, a number of river bends are named. Like many other Ozark streams, the Bourbeuse River has entrenched meanders.

There are a large number of named fords on this river, compared to the rest of the state. The gravel riverbeds, low average river flow, and lack of sufficient bridges both allow and necessitate the use of natural river crossings.

The USGS stream gauge in Union, near the mouth of the river, measures an average flow of 681 cubic feet (19.3 m3) per second.

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Bryant Creek is a relatively wild stream, provides only slightly less paddling mileage than the North Fork, and is highly fishable. Less spring fed, it has less volume than the North Fork and is more difficult to float because it is narrower and has more obstacles, but it also has some fast riffles. Local inquiry or examination should be made to determine whether the sections above Hodgson Mill Spring are floatable in summer without wading riffles.*

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The Castor River rises in southeastern Missouri near Fredericktown. The river flows south to Bollinger County and empties into the Headwater Diversion Channel, which flows into the Mississippi River just south of Cape Girardeau. The river below the Diversion Channel flows south until it reaches Saint George Bayou where both streams combine to form the Little River.

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Courtois Creek (local pronunciation: “court-away”) is a 38.6-mile-long (62.1 km) stream in southern Missouri, U.S.A. It shares its name with the nearby town of Courtois. According to the information in the Ramsay Place Names File at the University of Missouri, the creek was “doubtless named for some French settler, but his identity has not been ascertained”.

The stream arises in the Mark Twain National Forest in northern Iron County and flows through the Missouri Ozarks, roughly paralleling the course of Huzzah Creek to its west. It flows into Huzzah Creek just before the latter’s confluence with the Meramec River near the Crawford County Highway E bridge.

The creek is popular year-round for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. It is surrounded by dense stands of trees and native vegetation, has abundant fish, turtles and waterfowl, and is the best-protected stream in the area against erosion. The St. Louis Riverfront Times cited the creek as the best local float trip in 2007.

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The Current River forms in the southeastern portion of the Ozarks of Missouri and becomes a 7th order stream as it flows southeasterly out of the Ozarks into northeastern Arkansas where it becomes a tributary of the Black River, which is a tributary of the White River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The Current River is approximately 184 miles (296 km) long and drains about 2,641 square miles (6,840 sq. km) of land mostly in Missouri and a small portion of land in northeastern Arkansas. The headwaters of the Current River are nearly 900 feet (270 m) above sea level, while the mouth of the river lies around 280 feet (85 m) above sea level. The basin drains a rural area that is dominated by karst topography, underlain by limestone bedrock with a small area of igneous rock southeast of Eminence, Missouri. The annual daily mean discharge of the river near Doniphan, Missouri is 2,815 cubic feet (79.7 m3) per second. In 1964, over 134 mi (160 km) of the upper course of the river and its tributaries were federally protected as the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the first national park in America to protect a river system.

The Current River begins in Montauk State Park located in the southwestern corner of Dent County in southeastern Missouri. The confluence of Pigeon Creek and Montauk Spring form the headwaters of the river. Montauk Spring makes up most of the consistent flow of the headwaters, providing ideal conditions for trout fishing. After leaving Montauk State Park the river enters the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The uppermost reaches of the river are swift with numerous riffles broken by deep pools of crystal clear water, further downstream the riffles continue but get further apart. Hardwood trees, rock ledges, caves, springs, gravel bars, and towering limestone bluffs line the banks of the river. Welch Spring, a first magnitude spring, enters the river approximately 14 miles (23 km) downstream from the headwaters, nearly doubling the flow of the river. Other notable springs to add to the river include Cave Spring, Pulltite Spring, and Round Spring. Downstream from the headwaters approximately 52 miles (84 km) the Current River receives its largest tributary the Jacks Fork from the west near the small town of Eminence, Missouri. Blue Spring, another first magnitude spring, empties into the river, 9 miles (14 km) downstream from the confluence with the Jacks Fork. The Current River is approximately 86 miles (138 km) long when it passes by the town of Van Buren, Missouri and under U.S. Highway 60. South of Van Buren a few miles the Current River receives its second biggest tributary, the largest spring in the Ozarks and one of the largest single spring outlets known in the world. Big Spring empties into the river providing nearly 470 cubic feet (13 m3) of water per second. From Big Spring the river continues southeasterly leaving the Ozark National Scenic Riverways 105 miles (169 km) from the headwaters. The river then flows through Mark Twain National Forest until reaching Doniphan, Missouri and passes under U.S. Highway 160. From here the river slows as it exits the Ozark Highlands, the river continues its slow silt laden path into Arkansas where it receives the Little Black River from the northeast before it joins the Black River near Pocahontas, Arkansas.

Canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, and camping are very popular activities along the Current River. The river is fairly gentle and is considered to have mostly class 1 rapids, and a couple class 2.

Some of the points of interest along the course of the river include Montauk State Park (trout park), Welch Spring and abandon hospital, Aker’s Ferry, Cave Spring, Devil’s Well, Deer Leap, Rock House Cave, Pulltite Spring, Round Spring, Jacks Fork, Blue Spring, Rocky Falls (on a small tributary), and Big Spring.

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The Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River is a 44-mile (71 km) stretch of the spring-fed Eleven Point River in the Ozarks of southern Missouri set aside for preservation by Congress in 1968. The designated part of the river stretches from Thomasville to State Highway 142. The river was included in the original proposal for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, but it was ultimately excluded when the Riverways were created on the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in 1964.

It is one of the original eight rivers named under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as possessing “outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.” The Eleven Point holds the scenic designation within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system, meaning that it is free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads. Only about half of the land in the designated area is public, owned by the National Forest Service. The government holds a scenic easement on other land within the area that preserves its character for the future, but which does not allow public access to privately-held land.

Being a river, the area is best visited by boat. Canoeing is the most popular way to visit, while jon boats are frequently used by fishermen. Smallmouth bass, rock bass, walleye, and trout are among the game fish in the river. There are minimally developed float camps along the river that are accessible by boat, and dispersed camping on gravel bars is allowed.

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The Elk River and its scenic tributary, Big Sugar Creek, have become a favorite float with canoeists in the western part of the state. Big Sugar provides good camping and fishing, and is an unusually clear stream. In the Pineville and Noel areas, summer cottages are numerous, but the Elk below Noel again has a more isolated quality.*

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This James River tributary can be floated in high or medium high water. A floating-wading technique is better for lower water and fishing. There are dams to portage, but the pools they form are short.*

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The Gasconade River is about 280 miles (450 km) long and is located in central and south-central Missouri in the United States.

The Gasconade River begins in the Ozarks southeast of Hartville in Wright County and flows generally north-northeastwardly through Wright, Laclede, Pulaski, Phelps, Maries, Osage and Gasconade counties, through portions of the Mark Twain National Forest. It flows into the Missouri River near the town of Gasconade in Gasconade County.

The headwaters of the Gasconade are in the southeastern corner of Webster County northeast of Seymour, Missouri where it drains the eastern margin of the Springfield Plateau. The river joins the Missouri River at the city of Gasconade. The river follows a meandering course through the Ordovician age dolostone and sandstone bedrock of the Ozark Salem Plateau creating spectacular bluffs and incised meanders along the way. Numerous springs and caves occur within the drainage area and along the river course. Significant tributaries include the Osage Fork of Webster and Laclede counties and Roubidoux Creek and Big Piney River of Texas and Pulaski counties. The Roubidoux and Big Piney flow respectively along the west and east boundaries of Fort Leonard Wood which lies a short distance south and east of the Gasconade.

The plateau surface near the midpoint is 300 feet (91 m) above the river bottom near the river midpoint northeast of Waynesville creating scenic river bluffs. At the junction with the Missouri the river bottom is about 400 feet (120 m) lower in elevation than the old plateau surface above the river. The elevation of the plateau rim at the headwaters is at or above 1,600 feet (490 m) with local hilltops at over 1,700 feet (520 m) (second highest elevation in Missouri near Cedar Gap). The elevation at the confluence with the Missouri is 500 feet (150 m) giving an overall drainage basin relief of 1,200 feet (370 m).

The Gasconade River is the longest river completely within the boundary of Missouri. It has been called one of the world’s crookedest rivers.

It is ranked with a difficulty of I and II (seldom) by those who canoe, kayak and float. It is considered a good float stream because there’s typically not a heavy congestion of boats. It is common to go for many miles without seeing another boat.

There are caves and an abundance of wildlife along the river and is considered a popular place by anglers for its largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

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This clearwater gem (local pronunciation: “who-zall”), which joins its waters to the Meramec River in Crawford County, is only about 100 miles from St. Louis. The angler will find the Huzzah a pleasant and profitable floating-wading streams and the canoeist will find it quite sporty. The Huzzah river valley is relatively unspoiled and has real Ozarks atmosphere.*

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This creek is suitable mainly for spring floats but has one of the best general gradients in the Ozarks. However, the gradient is steady and there are really no unusual features in terms of falls or spectacular runs. It is just a good, steady, fast run through relatively undisturbed countryside, in spite of its closeness to civilization.*

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Jacks Fork is one of two rivers in Missouri that are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system.

Starting in Texas County, Missouri, this spring-fed river flows 46.4 miles (74.7 km) in a general east to northeasterly direction through the heart of the geological area known as the Lower Ozark Natural Division. It is the major tributary of the Current River, ending at its confluence near Eminence, Missouri.

The first 25 miles (40 km) from the Prongs to Bay Creek is deep valley and in the springtime provides Class II water. Due to lack of access, it is the most primitive of the rivers in the region. From Alley Spring to its confluence with the Current River it is a Class I River and is floatable year around with warm water.

The Jacks Fork provides some of the most natural conditions in the region with many caves and natural springs. It is a popular recreation destination for canoeists and kayakers and is generally considered a Class I-II difficulty river.

The river is mentioned in the lyrics of the Greg Brown song “Walkin’ Daddy” on the album Covenant.

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The James River is a 130-mile-long (210 km) river in southern Missouri. Its source is near the town of Diggins in Webster County. It begins on a northwesterly course, then turns southwest near Northview and passes near Springfield. From Springfield, it flows south to Galena where it becomes an arm of Table Rock Lake, a reservoir on the White River, which is the emptying point for the river.

The James River is a water source for the city of Springfield, and James River Freeway on the city’s south side is named for it.

The river’s unusual green stain is from copper-fixing bacteria present in the waters.

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The Little Niangua River is a 64.4-mile-long (103.6 km) tributary of the Niangua River in the Ozarks region of central Missouri in the United States. Via the Niangua, Osage and Missouri rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

The Little Niangua rises in Dallas County and flows generally northeasterly through Hickory and Camden counties. It joins the Niangua River in Camden County as an arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, which is formed by a dam on the Osage River.

The upper reaches of the Little Niangua River, including the tributaries of Cahoochie Creek and Thomas Creek in Dallas County, are known habitats of the Niangua Darter, a small fish that is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of Endangered Species.

There are multiple river accesses on the Little Niangua River, including Bannister Hollow, Fiery Fork and most areas where a road crosses the river.

Cedar Camp Canoeing Outfitters is a canoe outfitter and campground on the Little Niangua River north of Macks Creek on Route N. It includes a campground, boat rental, recreation, and rental cabins.

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This tributary of the Gasconade is fed by many small springs, is a good fly-fishing stream and is frequently floatable with some wading. The lower 7.5 miles provide the best floating. The upper 10 miles is has a lower gradient and less water.*

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This Elk River tributary is floatable in good, normal water.*

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The Meramec River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in Missouri. It wanders some 229 miles (369 km) through six Missouri Ozark Highland counties: Dent, Phelps, Crawford, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Louis, before it empties into the Mississippi River at Arnold and Oakville, Missouri. Between its source and its mouth, it falls 1,025 feet (312 m). The Meramec watershed covers portions of eight additional counties (Maries, Gasconade, Iron, Washington, Reynolds, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, and Texas) totaling approximately 3,980 square miles (10,300 sq. km.). Year-round navigability begins above Meramec Spring, just south of St. James. The Meramec’s size increases at the confluence of the Dry Fork, and its navigability continues until the river enters the Mississippi at Arnold, Missouri.

The river is one of the most diverse waters in Missouri. The river is plentiful in black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, paddlefish, rainbow trout, brown trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, white crappie, and some of the richest mussel beds in the state. The endangered Eastern Hellbender also lives in the river.

The Meramec River includes one of only three Red Ribbon Trout Areas in the state of Missouri, boasting a healthy rainbow trout population and an impressive brown trout population. Red Ribbon trout streams are managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation to produce trophy-sized fish.

Maramec Spring is the fifth-largest spring in Missouri. Maramec Spring Park, south of St. James, is the home of an historic iron works and trout fishery.

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The Missouri offers plenty of day and overnight floats. During low water, islands and sandbars are great places to camp, fish or picnic. Some of the accesses marked are on the Missouri, bur others are up a tributary. The current in the tributaries slow as the rivers flow into the Missouri, which usually makes it easy to paddle a mile or two upstream. These upstream tributary accesses allow you more flexibility when planning a paddling trip. The conservation areas are marked so you can get out and explore along the way. For more information on Conservation Department areas along the river, write for the three free area brochures on the upper, middle and lower Missouri River.*

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The Niangua River (pronounced “nigh-ang-wha”) is a 125-mile-long (201 km) tributary of the Osage River in the Ozarks region of southern and central Missouri in the United States. Via the Osage and Missouri rivers it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

The Niangua River is formed in Webster County by the confluence of its short east and west forks, and flows generally northward through Dallas, Laclede and Camden counties, past Bennett Spring, Lake Niangua, and Ha Ha Tonka State Parks. It flows into the Osage River as an arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, which is formed by the Bagnell Dam on the Osage. As part of the lake it collects the Little Niangua River.

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The North Fork River or the North Fork of White River is a 109-mile-long (175 km) tributary of the White River, into which it flows near Norfork, Arkansas.

It rises in Wright County, Missouri, southeast of the city of Mountain Grove, and flows generally southwards through Douglas and Ozark counties. It flows through Mark Twain National Forest and gathers the waters of many streams, including its major tributary, Bryant Creek. The watershed includes major portions of eastern Douglas and Ozark counties and includes portions of Webster, Wright, Texas and Howell counties in Missouri.

South of Tecumseh, Missouri, the river becomes Norfork Lake, a reservoir created by Norfork Dam in Baxter County, Arkansas. A few miles below the dam, the North Fork River joins the White River near the town of Norfork, Arkansas. The part of the river below the Norfork Dam is called the Norfork Tailwater and is a trout fishing stream.

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The Osage Fork is a fine floating and fishing stream. In normal seasons, there is enough water to float it from Hwy. 5 down, a distance of about 40 miles. Maples, red buds, dogwoods, and other flowering trees and shrubs make it a pretty stream in both spring and fall. Although the valley is well dotted with farms, there are numerous gravel bars for camping and fishing is excellent. There is some tendency for short sections of the stream to be log jammed, but this slight inconvenience is a small price to pay for a little-floated stream.*

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The Platte River is a tributary of the Missouri River, about 200 miles (320 km) long, in southwestern Iowa and northwestern Missouri in the United States. It is sometimes known as the Little Platte River to distinguish it from the larger Platte River, also a tributary of the Missouri, in nearby Nebraska; the Platte River of Missouri itself has a tributary known as the “Little Platte River.”

The river is the biggest river in the Platte Purchase area and it flows through the Kansas City Metropolitan Area as well as St. Joseph, Missouri metropolitan area. The river is an eighth order river.

Average flow at mile 25.1 is 1,925 cubic feet per second. The highest flow was 37,800 cubic feet per second during the Great Flood of 1993 on July 26, 1993. The lowest flow was 12 cubic feet per second during a drought in August 1989.

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The Pomme de Terre Reservoir has eliminated the central portion of this river for floating, but some floatable water remains in the sections above and below the lake. Relatively slow, but also relatively clear, the Pomme is a good river for beginning canoeists. Check with outfitters or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if water is being released from dam.*

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The Sac River is a river in southwest Missouri. It is 118 miles (190 km) long, with headwaters in Lawrence and Greene counties; the headwaters join near Greenfield, then flow north through the Ozarks, to the Osage River, ending just above Osceola in Truman Reservoir.

Large portions of the Sac River and the Little Sac River are inundated by Stockton Lake.

The Big Eddy Site, an archaeological dig, is along the Sac River within Cedar County. Eleven feet of river sediment at the site provides a stratigraphy that suggests more than 10,000 years of nearly constant occupation by American Indians, potentially pre-dating the Clovis culture and contributing to the knowledge of the Dalton and San Patrice cultures.

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The Saint Francis River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, about 426 miles (686 km) long, in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas in the United States. The river drains a mostly rural area and forms part of the Missouri-Arkansas state line along the western side of the Missouri bootheel.

Beginning in 1967 the Missouri Whitewater Championships have been held on the St. Francis River (typically between the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area and the Silver Mines Recreation Area). The events includes whitewater slalom competitions and downriver whitewater racing competitions. Today, the Missouri Whitewater Association holds the Championships annually in March, and recently celebrated the 40th year of Missouri Whitewater Championships on the St. Francis River.

The origin of the river’s name is unclear. It might refer to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the Franciscan order. None of the region’s early explorers were Franciscans, however. One possibility is that Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit, named the river when he explored its mouth in 1673. Before his voyage down the Mississippi Marquette had spent some time at the mission of St. Francois Xavier, named for the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. The spelling of the river’s name shifted from “Francois” to “Francis” in the early 20th century. A number of place names in the region stem from the river’s name, including Saint Francois County and the St. Francois Mountains.

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* Text from Missouri Ozark Waterways by Oz Hawksley, published by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Click here to purchase this book on Amazon.


Under Missouri law, an outfitter is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in paddlesport activities resulting from the inherent risks of paddlesport activities pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri. Chapter 537 RSMO revised to 537.327
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