Streamin' Through Summer

By MDC | July 1, 2024
From Xplor: July/August 2024
Kids on the Niangua River
Streamin' Through Summer

When summer’s sizzle makes you fizzle, it’s time to raft a cool, clear river.

When summer’s sizzle makes you fizzle, it’s time to seek a creek. Come along with this fun-loving crew of riffle rafters as they explore the cool, wild waters of the Niangua River.

Gear Up!

Outfitters will drop you off at the river and pick you up downstream. They’ll also provide boats — rafts, canoes, or kayaks — paddles, and life jackets. Here are a few other things you should bring.

  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Bathing suit or swim trunks
  • Water shoes
  • Cooler filled with snacks and drinks
  • Rope or 
  • bungee cords
  • Waterproof bags
  • Dry clothes for the trip home

At the put-in, it might take a little while to get things stowed away in the rafts. But don’t worry, you’ll soon be going with the flow. Bon voyage!

Totally Tubular

On a gentle river, lounging in a tube as you drift downstream is relaxing and refreshing. You can rent tubes from an outfitter or bring your own. Friends can tie their tubes together to form a giant raft.

Bash That Trash!

Outfitters usually provide trash bags, but it doesn’t hurt to pack a few extra. If you spot litter along the bank, make sure to bag it up!

Take a Break on the Bank

A lot of the fun on a float trip comes from exploring gravel bars and sandy banks along the way. You never know what kinds of critters or buried treasures you might find!

Tiny critters cling to the undersides of rocks. Look for snails, baby mayflies, and pebble houses built by caddisflies.

When you pick up a turtle or other critter for a closer look, be gentle and return it where you found it when you’re done.

No claws for alarm. If you grab a crayfish by its back, it can’t pinch you.

Paddling Pointers

  • To hold a paddle correctly, place one hand on the grip at the end of the paddle, and wrap your other hand around the middle of the paddle’s shaft.
  • Paddlers in the back of the boat can stick the blade of a paddle vertically in the water and use it as a rudder to turn the raft left or right.
  • Teamwork makes a raft work. Paddlers on both sides need to work together to navigate around rocks and logs.

Spring Freeze

Many of Missouri’s Ozark streams are fed by springs. When water gurgles to the surface from deep underground it’s ice cold. Swimming near a spring can take your breath away! Some people find it thrilling. Others find it painful.

The best way to beat summer’s heat is splashing in a cool, clean stream. Did someone say, “water fight”?

Go Float!

Toss a rock almost anywhere in Missouri, and it will land in a stream. But not all of them are fun — or even possible — to float. For a guide to our finest floatable rivers, borrow a copy of A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri at your local library, buy it at a nature center, or order it online at

Also In This Issue


Forget about desert islands and pirate chests filled with gold. A much sweeter treasure is ripe for the taking, right here in Missouri.

This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber