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Summer Float Trips in Missouri


Float trip 1996

I love float trips.

For those of you not from the midwest, float trips are not the same as white water river trips that you will find in other parts of the country.

On float trips…you float.

You relax. You drink adult beverages. You sing at the top of your lungs with your friends. You stop a half dozen times to get out of the boat and play in the water.

My first float trip was on the Current River when I was about 13. My dad and brother were in one canoe and I was in a canoe with my 18 yr old sister Linda. Linda waited until my dad was out of site and then let me have one beer. I was in heaven.

It was the first of many float trips.

I did one more family float trip. This one was a disaster.

My dad harassed my mom until she gave in and agreed to go, even though she can’t swim and is terrified of water that is deeper than her knees. He ended up crashing them into a tree in the middle of some rapids and she refused to get back into his boat. So, my dad floated the rest of the day by himself and my mom sat between me and my brother and panicked every time she heard water that was rushing over a tree limb…sure we were about to hit rapids again. (FYI…most Missouri river rapids are nothing like white water rapids. It’s more of a swift rush of water, but they can crash you into things if you don’t know how to steer.)

In high school and college I discovered how fun float trips really can be. After college, my friend Cathy and I planned an annual float trip every year for most of our 20s. One year we had over 50 people floating and camping, and 23 canoes in the river. That year we managed to turn 12 canoes into one huge party barge using bungee cords. Well, for a few minutes. Then a log popped up in the middle and we scrambled to separate ourselves.

At some point, I talked my friends into giving rafts a try. We never went back.

Rafts are more social than canoes. You are in a boat with a bunch of people instead of just one other person. You can move around without flipping the boat over. You can jump off the side and swim for a while while the boat floats along. You don’t really need to paddle much at all.

My ideal float is on an 8 person raft with 6 people. It leaves plenty of space for a huge cooler in the middle of the boat and space to move around.

This year, my dog Milo will join me on the river for the first time. He’ll be wearing a life jacket designed just for dogs. I’m not so sure that he will actually like the experience…but we’re going to give it a try.

UPDATE: My Dog Milo Went Kayaking and Rafting

Missouri Rivers:

MO Map of rivers

I’ve floated most of the Missouri Rivers near St. Louis:

  • Black River
  • Courtois Creek (pronounced code-a-way)
  • Current River
  • Huzzah Creek
  • Jacks Fork River
  • Meramec River
  • St. Francis River

My favorite is the Current River, but I haven’t gone there in years since it’s a 3 hour drive from St. Louis. The Black River and Meramec Rivers are just so much closer and have become the rivers of choice for me and my friends.

The last 2 years I’ve floated out of Riverview Ranch on the Meramec. They have cabins with air conditioning and private bathrooms.

Cabins are SO much better than tent camping and campground bathrooms filled with scary bugs in the middle of the night.

Here are a few pictures from my float trips in the 1990s. Float trips haven’t changed much over the years. I’ve lost touch with many of the people in these pictures.

Looking back, I’m impressed with how no one minded getting pictures taken in swimsuits. Maybe it’s because social media didn’t exist back then so the only people who would end up seeing the pictures were the people who actually saw you standing there in your swimsuit anyway.

Float trip 1995 Canoe float trip 1995 Float trip 1997 Float trip 1999 Float trip 1999 (3) Float trip 1999 (2) Float trip with tube 1997

Do you like float trips? 

What is your favorite river?

SEE ALSO: Take Your Dog on a Missouri Float Trip

Disclosure: This blog post contains advertising. If you click the link for the dog life jacket and decide to buy something (the life jacket or something else), I will get paid a tiny amount of money which will help me get closer to my dreams. 


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