The Ozarks? Canoeing the Eleven Point National Scenic River in Mark Twain National Forest

So, just like us you might just have gotten a little bit hooked on Ozark, binging on Netflix’s addictive addition that takes Breaking Bad and adds a touch of Missouri into the action. But what many don’t realise is that the Ozark’s are in fact a real place and they are bloody beautiful. They are also perfect for those of us who love adventure, want to get back to nature and are sick of the over populated National Parks! 

The Eleven Point National Scenic River is a popular destination for canoers due to its moderate difficulty and scenic path through the forests and bluffs of Southern Missouri’s Ozark Hills. As its name suggests, visitors can enter at one of eleven different launch points along the river, allowing canoers to choose among several different courses. The course that you choose will depend on the desired length of your trip as well as seasonal factors like rainfall. However, regardless of the length and timing of your visit canoeing along the stunning Eleven Point River is always fun!

Although the National Scenic River officially begins in Thomasville, canoers can enter it at eleven designated access points along the 44-mile stretch of river. The majority of these points are officially maintained by the US Forest Service and have concrete boat launches and vault toilets available for canoers. Four of these access points are not as well-maintained, but experienced canoers can use them to avoid crowds at the more popular sites. Before you embark on your journey, research the different access points and choose one that suits your equipment and skill level.

Your entry point will depend on the route you choose and the timing of your canoe trip. Although some canoers decide to brave the entire river, most choose one- or two-day floats. Canoers looking for a multi-day adventure can brave the full 44-mile stretch from Thomasville to Highway 142, or if you’d rather only take a day trip, you can canoe from Greer to Whitten for a scenic float that’s easily doable in a single day. However, when planning your trip, keep in mind that water levels tend to be lower in the summer, so the shallower sections near Thomasville may be inaccessible during seasons of drought.

Once you decide on the length of your trip, you should plan ahead to camp at one of the seven maintained float camps along the river. These maintained float camps have tent pads, fire rings, and latrines for canoers to use as well as easy access to trails throughout the Mark Twain National Forest. However, these camps can become crowded during peak summer months, so more adventurous canoers may camp along gravel or wooded riverbanks. However, campers should be mindful of private property areas along the river, and during Missouri’s rainy spring, you should avoid camping close to the shore since water levels can rise rapidly as a result of storms upstream.

As one of the top canoeing destinations in the US, the Eleven Point National Scenic River is a great starting point for canoers looking to move from calm lake waters to a more active river. Although dangers like trees, root wads, and snags do exist, much of the river is only rated as a Class I or II difficulty zone. However, all canoers who enter the river should have basic mastery of fundamental canoeing techniques, and inexperienced canoers should only embark on journeys with experienced guides. Local river outfitters can provide required canoeing equipment, scheduled drop-offs and pickups, and resources to help canoers plan a trip down the river. You can also take group tours where an experienced canoe guide will lead you down the stunning Eleven Point National Scenic River.

Have you been to the Ozark’s or on a canoe trip?

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