Well, it looks like the dates are set for the annual pilgrimage to the wondrous beauty of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This annual event combines delightful fall temperatures, uncrowded rivers, and a great group of paddlers into one fantastic trip. Everyone who is not a drunk party type floater is welcome to attend. You don't have to know me or anyone else going on the trip so come on down and make lots of new paddling friends. Participants come for just a day, just the weekend, or the whole week. The choice is yours. The following information is provided for those attending.
Who is invited?
Floaters of all ability levels-as long as you are not looking for a drunken party fest. Families and children are welcome.
Where: The Current and Jack's Fork Rivers in south central Missouri near Salem, MO. This is about 3 hours from St. Louis, MO. Here is the link for the National Park Service Web Site:
Here is a link to the park map:
Camping is at the Pulltite Campground and the approx. cost is $14 per night per site. There are no hookups, but there is a nice bath house with somewhat warm showers and flush toilets. There are no paved pads for campers, just grassy areas to pull out onto. Plenty of nice tent sites! Below is a link to information on Pulltite Spring.
Pulltite Spring Branch Across the River From the campground.
Food & Meals: Everyone brings and prepares their own food with two exceptions. On Saturday evening we have a big pot luck dinner where everyone prepares their own favorite campground foods and shares their culinary creations. There is a couple of large cooking fires for grilling meats, corn, etc.
If the weather turns sour during the week we may go into Salem or Eminence, MO for dinner. Other than that, bring your own breakfast, lunch,dinner, and snacks. There is a super Wal-Mart in Salem and a small grocery in Eminence. There are no restaurants or stores near the campground.
Reflector Oven from Old Scout Products bakes tasty treats!
Link to Old Scout Products: Old Scout Products
Scott is a friend of mine and his products are all first rate.
Each evening we have a campfire get together where we trade stories, misadventures, and tall tales. A joke or two have been known to be told.
Canoes & Shuttles: Those with their own boats should bring them. There are outfitters in the area where boats can be rented, however, most years we have enough extra boats on hand to cover those without. We self shuttle or vehicles. Please be sure to contribute a couple of bucks to the driver for gas. Not all in the group float the same stretches of river together. Sometimes we break into a couple of groups to make different runs on the river. Rental fees are in the $40 a day range.
The Current River is class I (Some class II in high water) and is suitable for all skill levels. There are long pools, beautiful bluffs, crystal clear water, numerous springs, some swift riffles, and on the weekdays you will see lots of wildlife.
The Jack's Fork is a bit smaller and has the same scenery and water characteristics but features tighter turns requiring a bit more moving water skills, but still is a class I stream.
In the fall both these rivers will be uncrowded, in fact, often during the week we see nobody else on the river. On the weekend you may see two or three other parties on the river. The good news is that all those floating this time of year are serious paddlers. The party types have long since left the river.
We stop to look at a spring on last year's float.
During the fall in the Missouri Ozarks the weather can range from early winter to summer temperatures. You should be prepared for lows from around thirty to perhaps 50 degrees and highs from 55 up to 85 degrees. We have been very lucky during this weekend where rain is concerned, however when it does rain in the fall it is usually an all day or two day event. That said, sometimes there is severe thunderstorms during this time frame. So basically, be prepared for the worst and delight in the conditions that Mother Nature sends our way.
WHAT TO BRING:
Paddling Gear: Canoe or Kayak, paddles, PFD, small cooler, wet shoes, sunglasses with retainer strap, camera with waterproof protection, hat, water bottles, waterproof bags or containers.
Camping Gear: Tent or camper, sleeping bag (20 degree bag suggested), rain fly, air mattress or sleeping pad, stove, cook gear, cooking and eating utensils, pillow, etc.
Clothing: Bring clothing that can be layered. Non cotton clothing for on the river. Be prepared for temps anywhere from around 30 to perhaps 85 degrees. Rain gear is a must!!! Stocking cap and light gloves in case it turns cool.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN THE AREA?
A couple of options are available on days you do not want to paddle.
Alley Spring Mill is locate about seven miles west of Eminence, MO. The mill is open on weekends and has been totally restored to working order. Sitting on the spring pool of Alley Spring itself, this is perhaps the most photographed spot in the Missouri Ozarks.
Visit the scenic Alley Mill for a look at the life of yesteryear. Open daily during the summer.
Located on Missouri Route 106, six miles west of Eminence, Missouri.
Informal tours of the building are held anytime by request. Rangers are available to provide information about the park, the Ozark area, history and nature.
Special Programs: Schools can arrange to visit anytime of year by calling 573-226-3945.
The Alley Mill was built in 1894. Much of the original milling equipment is still in place. Exhibits explain the life and culture of the Ozarks.
Exhibits, book and postcard sales, free literature, park information. No restrooms in the Mill. Campground, canoe rental and river access nearby.
Here is a link to the history of the mill. Alley Mill History
Here are links for more on Rocky Falls:
Arts and Crafts Fair:
There is a fairly big Arts and Crafts Fair at the Circle Be Campground in Eminence, MO on Saturday and Sunday. Here is a link to the web site: Eminence Craft Show