From Xplor for Kids
August 2013 Issue

How To: Read a River

Publish Date

Aug 01, 2013

Floating an Ozark stream is tons of fun, but tipping your canoe can be a drag. Learn to read the water, and you’ll get dunked only when you want to go swimming. Here’s what to look for.

Upstream V

When rocks and stumps are submerged just below the surface, water flowing over and around them forms a V with the tip pointing upstream. If you see an upstream V, paddle around it!

Downstream V

When water flows between two obstacles, it forms a V with the tip pointing downstream. Aim your canoe toward the point of a downstream V, and you’ll find a clear path and smooth sailing.


The current cuts into the outer bends of rivers, washing away soil and causing trees to slide off the bank into the water. Avoid these trees! Their branches act like leafy spaghetti strainers that can swallow your canoe.

Horizon Line

A horizontal line on the water’s surface indicates a steep, sudden drop in the river. The drop could be a fun-to-run 3-foot ledge or a dangerous, canoe-crumpling waterfall. The only safe way to find out is to beach your canoe and hike downstream for a better look.

Washboard Ripples

These small, numerous waves indicate shallow water. They won’t cause you to flip, but you’ll often run aground and have to get out to pull your canoe downstream.

Also in this issue

You Discover

With summer winding down and autumn gearing up, there’s plenty to discover outside in August and September.

Predator vs. Prey: Roadrunner vs. Collared Lizard

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Jaws of Life

Birds use beaks to weave nests, groom feathers, fight attackers, and capture food. With so many uses, it isn’t surprising that beaks come in all shapes and sizes.

Shadow Cats

Although they’re common throughout Missouri, bobcats dwell in the shadows, all but invisible to most people.

Wild Jobs: Katydid Wrangler Rhett Hartman

Mizzou student Rhett Hartman wrangles katydids to get inside the minds of these singing insects.

Strange But True

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

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