MO River Camp And Float Trip

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

few people I've seen on the river," he said. "The scenery is incredible, and there are so many lovely campsites. It's amazing more people don't come here."

Rules of the Road

  • Always wear a life jacket when canoeing or boating.
  • Leave word with friends or family about where you will be floating and when you should return.
  • To stay in the main channel, keep the black "can" buoys on your right going downriver and on your left going upriver. The opposite is true for red "nun" buoys.
  • Head upstream when landing. Having a swift current at your back makes landing tricky.
  • Stay well away from barges. Until you take the measure of these behemoths, it's best to cross to the opposite side of the river when you see them coming.
  • Approach wakes from tow boats and other motorized craft head-on. One of the few ways to swamp a canoe on the Missouri River is to let a wave roll into you broadside.
  • Stay alert. The flat expanse of the river can lull you into carelessness. If you aren't paying attention, you can T-bone one of the navigation buoys while drifting in the current.
  • Watch for turbulent water that marks the location of rock just beneath the surface. These aren't much of a hazard to canoes, but they can damage larger boats and motors.
  • If your boat swamps, don't leave the boat and try to swim to shore. Instead, hold onto the boat and "swim" it to safety.
  • Avoid floating during high water, when the river washes out logs and other debris that make navigation dangerous.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard river boating safety booklet, "Rules of the Road," can be downloaded online. Or, you can order a copy from Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Floating tips

  • Bring a motor boat. One of the boats in your flotilla should be able to go upriver if necessary.
  • Don't bite off too much mileage. Err on the short side - 10 or 15 miles per day - so you can stop often to explore.
  • Find campsites beforehand. Islands and sandbars are widely spaced in some river stretches, so you need to scout them in advance.
  • Don't count on cell phones. Reception is spotty at best and nonexistent in many reaches of the river. Carrying walkie-talkies in the front and back canoes is a good way of keeping in touch with fellow floaters.
  • Go with the flow. When you want make time, stay in the main navigation channel. The brisk current will multiply your paddling power.
  • Put some weight up front. Keeping a boat pointed down river with a headwind is less tiring if you keep your bow low in the water.

MO Floats

More than 40 conservation areas and public accesses with boat ramps are available to put in and take out of the Missouri River from the Iowa state line to the mouth of the river. These and other public areas along the river are listed in "Upper Missouri River," "Middle Missouri River" and "Lower Missouri River." These brochures are available at Conservation Department district offices statewide.

  • Watson Access to Langdon Bend Access in Atchison County - 12 miles
  • Landgon Bend Access to H.F. Turnau Conservation Area in Holt County - 22 miles.
  • H.F. Thurnau Conservation Area to the boat ramp at White Cloud, Kan. - 21 miles
  • Payne Landing Access in Holt County to Nodaway Island Access in Andrew County - 9 miles
  • Nodaway Island Access in Andrew County to French Bottom Access in St. Joseph - 12 miles
  • French Bottoms Access to Jentell Brees Access - 13 miles
  • Marion Access in Cole County to Carl R.Noren Access at Jefferson city - 14 miles
  • Carl R. Noren Access to Portland Access - 29 miles
  • Chamois Access to Gasconade Park Access - 14 miles
  • Hermann Boat Ramp to New Haven Boat Ramp - 16 miles
  • Washington City Boat Ramp to Weldon Springs Access - 20 miles
  • Weldon Spring Conservation Area in St. Charles County to Blanchette Landing Access at St. Charles - 25 miles.
  • Blanchette Access to the mouth of the river at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area - 27 miles.

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