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74 In Hiking + The Outdoors/ Missouri/ Travel

Floating the Current River – Ozark National Scenic Riverway

My family is all about the outdoors. We love hiking and exploring our gorgeous state and national parks. This weekend, we did something a little different outside. We decided to float some of the Current River near Van Buren, Missouri. My parents camped down there the night before, and my brother and our spouses met up with them to spend the day on the river together.

The very first bit on the river, we were a little worried. August in the Ozarks is usually wicked hot and humid, but it was super chilly and crazy breezy! It felt more like autumn than peak-heat summer! 

I’m not an ocean person, but I love river adventures!

So, my family is super goofy, which means that laughs are a given for our activities. We had all six of us together, which meant we were getting into all sorts of trouble.

Matt rocked the GoPro for our trip! I love that he took so many accidental feet photos! Plus, look at how beautiful that river is! No wonder it’s a national scenic riverway.

The Current River is fed by many different springs which means the water is super clear and as it gets deeper is a deep teal color. It’s really beautiful!   

The crew, minus Matt, who’s photographing! 

Matt got separated from the pack in a section of strong current. He wanted us to let him go so we didn’t drag him too close to the bank, and then he proceeded to float straight to the bank! Ha! That’s what you get for not being a team player, right?   

Matt rejoined the group and my dad was trying to hold on to his tube with his feet, and kept rubbing his butt with his toes, which led to all these laughing faces. 

Then Matt broke away again! Ha! 

 

We went by this cave in the bluff line. Minutes later a canoe paddled up to explore! 

I love the gorgeous bluffs of the Ozarks. If we had had canoes or something easier to paddle, I would’ve totally jumped off this bad boy! 

Catching some wake from the prop boats along the river.

Cory, my big brother, often saved the day, pulling us away from obstacles or carrying one of us who had strayed from the pack back to the group. It was cracking us all up so much, so we had to capture this awesome move! 

So, my dad jumped out of his tube and then had a heck of a time getting back into his tube, which led to fits of laughter. (he’s the man flailing about in the background). 

The hilarity continued for several more minutes.  

It was seriously hysterical! 

Our trip had so many laughs and amazing memories. I’m so grateful for the time we’ve had here in the Ozarks with my family. We’ve really been making loads of memories together before Matt and I take off on our big trip!

Tips on Floating the Current River:

⋙ Don’t stress about getting everything organized. There are plenty of companies out of Van Buren who do that-day floating.

⋙ There are different types of floaties. If you’re going with a big group, I recommend the tubes with are handles and cupholders. (Like the lime green ones we used – pictured above.)

⋙ If you’re in a tube, I would recommend doing the 1-2 hour float or 3-4 hour float. We did the 3-4 hour and it was almost too much, and that was on a cool day. It wasn’t that we didn’t have fun, we just had to paddle quite a bit in places of low current and to avoid some obstacles.

⋙ If you’re looking to spend 5-6 hours on the river, rent a canoe or raft. That way you can float leisurely and still paddle when needed.

⋙ If you’re not a great swimmer, wear a lifejacket. There are loads of places along the river that are super deep.

⋙ Don’t forget a cooler (and throw your sunscreen in there). You can rent tubes for your coolers as well!

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74 Comments

  • Reply
    Natasha
    August 9, 2017 at 9:31 am

    THis looks like a lot of fun. I enjoy spending time outdoors, but I also like the idea of a big family trip! Thanks for sharing this gem 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 10, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      It was a ton of fun, and the perfect activity for a large group! I loved going with my family – they’re a hoot!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    August 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    OMG I am so jealous right now! Haha this seriously looks amazing! When we were up in Lake Tahoe there was a lazy river rafting experience but we couldn’t do it because of the river water levels! I was bummed! I so want to do this though! The color of the water is gorgeous too! I would be a little less inclined if it was murky brown river water, haha! I also love how you did your cover image! Next time you do this please tell us and we will be on the first flight out!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 10, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      Haha! It was so much fun! What a bummer that the levels were too high. You’ll definitely have to give it a go sometime in that area. We actually had freak flooding this spring in this area- towns had to shut off their power and this whole area had some debris in the treetops along the way. It was sad, but it was also great to see the resilience of the people in the area. The water in the Ozarks is one of my favorite things. So many springs makes it so clear and colorful. We’d love to show you guys around the Ozarks sometime! Sounds like a blast!

  • Reply
    Candy
    August 9, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Oh my! This looks like SO much fun. I used to do this with my friends at a river in Florida and it was always incredibly good times. I’m so jealous that you get to do this with your family. Great tip on the tube and times. I would definitely do the longer route on a hot summer day 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 10, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      It was a lot of fun. We’ve definitely been trying to take advantage of being close to my family while we live here. A summer day would’ve made it much more enjoyable! We had goosebumps and were shivering by the end of the float!

  • Reply
    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)
    August 9, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Not only does that look like such a good time, I now want to find a river where I can go tubing. No rapids, just the calm enjoyment of the river. I now Andy would love it, too. Plus, I’m pretty sure you have convinced me that I need a Go Pro. I love those water shots!

    • Reply
      Paige
      August 11, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      It was absolutely enjoyable. There were a couple parts with strong currents but no rapids! You should definitely get one! We love ours!

  • Reply
    eatlivetraveldrink
    August 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Funny Story – I have been watching Ozark’s on Netflix and I am obsessed with visiting now. I know it just came out but do you think the lake will become flooded with tourism?

    • Reply
      Paige
      August 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      I don’t know if it will or not. If you actually look up the filming locations they filmed most of it in Georgia because of tax breaks – which is unfortunate because the Ozarks is Stunning! Lake of the Ozarks is pretty busy in the summer anyway, but there are several sections of it, so if you want to go and escape the crowds go closer to Camdenton and Ha Ha Tonka state park.

  • Reply
    rovingjo
    August 10, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Spending a few hours on the river like is is like a dream. Even though the weather was not hot and summery but more like fall it looked perfect. I need to get myself there.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      It was a lot of fun and it felt like fall. Which is great because it’s my favorite season and we’re going to miss it this year!

  • Reply
    donoghuemc
    August 10, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    What a beautiful way to see the Ozarks – and sounds super fun too! I’ve done white water rafting, but not tubing, definitely something I would do on the current river if I get the chance! Your family sounds like so much fun!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      I’ve done both too and they’re very different. This was super leisurely but rafting is great for adventure-lovers!

  • Reply
    100cobbledroads
    August 12, 2017 at 2:23 am

    The fun and cheer comes across so well in your pictures. I am imagining if there were videos instead of pictures…then we could hear all the merriment as well 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you! There are videos and they’re quite hilarious! We were afraid no one else would find them as enjoyable as we do.

  • Reply
    Kim-Ling
    August 12, 2017 at 4:04 am

    This looks like so much fun! The river is so scenic and blue. I’d be tempted to go mermaiding there, for sure! I love that you even had a floatie for the esky! Priorities!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      It is absolutely scenic! Perfect for some water mermaids, for sure! The float rental place has them for different sized coolers!

  • Reply
    Siddhartha Joshi
    August 12, 2017 at 5:49 am

    This looks like so much fun! Love how everyone in your family enjoys being out and together. Loved the fun pictures too 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      We definitely always have a good time together!

  • Reply
    thewanderingcore
    August 12, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Looks like you had a lot of fun, your pictures reflect that!!!

  • Reply
    gokulr27
    August 12, 2017 at 8:18 am

    That looks like fun. Holding hands and floating down the river like that. 😀

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      It was definitely fun! I love family time!

  • Reply
    Danik
    August 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Wow! Looks like you had a blast floating on the Ozark and I am so glad you enjoyed. I never done anything like this but I so want to now. 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      It was a ton of fun. You’ll have to give it a go if you’re ever in the area!

  • Reply
    elphie1
    August 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I remember doing this as a child in the Ozarks! I don’t remember which river we went down, but it was so fun! I was scared of all the nasty logs in the water though haha!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Oh how fun! They’re definitely super mossy! We went over a couple of those ourselves.

  • Reply
    forever roaming the world
    August 12, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    The last time I floated down a river like this was in Laos and although not with my family, the company had that day was friends I had made from around the world (We are a traveling family) and like your trip it was a barrel of laughs all through the day 😀 – From reading this post looks like I’ve got something new to put on my list for when I travel to the states 😀

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Did you do it in Vang Vieng?! We kayaked down there, but it was super cold and raining that day so we didn’t want to float.I think you’d enjoy it!

  • Reply
    travellingslacker
    August 12, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Loved this idea. I mean, I have seen people swimming, diving, canoeing, rafting. But this is the most enjoyable thing! Just floating and soaking in the moment! Also loved how green the water looks here! I wish this was available in more rivers.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      It’s absolutely enjoyable! The water is gorgeous and it’s nice because the river is never too crazy! Just a few spots of strong current, but no rapids or white water!

  • Reply
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    August 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    So fun! What a great way to spend the day. I would have never guessed how turquoise the water would be. The bluffs look so pretty, too, as a backdrop! I’ve been to the Ozarks but looks like they’re worth more time exploring!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 13, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      It was a great day! It’s really beautiful here in the Ozarks. We have so many springs that the water is just so beautiful! Some places it’s almost glowing turquoise. Just so beautiful!

  • Reply
    lucywilliamsglobal
    August 13, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Looks like a fun day! Love that you can get a floaty for the cooler! Lol

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 13, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Yeah! It’s super handy! More handy on a warmer day. We were so cold by the end of it, that we didn’t want to touch those cold drinks! Haha!

  • Reply
    Gabriela@IamFoodieTraveler
    August 13, 2017 at 4:26 am

    OMG, I didn’t know there is such thing! It seems really fun, but I think I would be a bit scared of doing this. Was the water warm or cold, I heard that most of the time the rivers have cold water and I really don’t like that. It looks beautiful, but that should be enough. 🙂
    Anyways, your pictures definitely look like you spent a great time there.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      It’s so much fun! The water was chilly at first, but after you get wet you don’t even notice it. Eventually, the weather was so cold that it was warmer in the water! It’s so much fun. You should give it a shot!

  • Reply
    Natasha Haley
    August 13, 2017 at 6:22 am

    This looks awesome!! I have never done anything like this but I have seen others do it and I have been jealous every single time. Cool idea with family too

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 14, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      It’s so much fun! I highly recommend it for a group activity. It’s a blast!

  • Reply
    Karla
    August 13, 2017 at 6:40 am

    You guys look like you are super having fun! WHat a great way to spend a day.

  • Reply
    TheBohoChica
    August 13, 2017 at 6:52 am

    I love that you look super happy in your photos- there’s this childlike excitement that I totally get and I swear I have the same look when I’m having an adventure in nature.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      There’s something about nature that leaves you full of childlike wonder. Plus, it’s extra-amazing getting to share that with my family!

  • Reply
    Lydia Smith
    August 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    If I were to be part of your family, I’d not love outdoors less considering the scenery the Ozark river has to offer. In fact, I’d live outdoors. haha. Such a beautiful place

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      It’s definitely a place that is perfect for outdoor exploration. We try to get outside as often as possible!

  • Reply
    carrieemann
    August 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    This looks like a great way to spend a summer day! Are there rapids, or can you just float down the river and relax?

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      It absolutely was! There are some strong currents but no real rapids. You can just relax for 95% of it. 5% you may have to paddle a bit to avoid obstacles like logs… All in all it’s extremely relaxing.

  • Reply
    Jo Amos
    August 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    You look like you had some serious fun! The scenery looks stunning – I’d love to walk around there. Did you see any wildlife on the river?

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      We didn’t that day other than some white tale deer and a few little fish. I was back in the area early last week and saw a muskrat which totally creeped me out! Haha!

  • Reply
    katsgoneglobal
    August 13, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    You all look that you are having lots of fun. A great summer activity!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

      It is a great summer activity. I already can’t wait to do it again – in a canoe next time!

  • Reply
    Marcus and Mel
    August 14, 2017 at 2:12 am

    It looks like a great day and would love to give it a go. Unfortunately, where we live it is a bit cold, 15 minutes would be long enough before you lose the feeling in you hands and feet.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:02 am

      That does not sound enjoyable! You’ll just have to come to the Ozarks and give it a go!

  • Reply
    lisa
    August 14, 2017 at 3:10 am

    what fun! you and your family look amazing together and i love the cooler box!! Great scenery along the way too, i am hoping to do something similar in South Africa towards the end of the year, now i am really excited!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Thanks! We definitely always have a good time! South Africa sounds like a wonderful place to do this! Are there hippos that far down in Africa? I’m dying to get to South Africa. My best friend was just there in May and loved it!

  • Reply
    Who is Ferna?
    August 14, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Watching the photos and reading your experience makes me giggle, I have been smiling all throughout as well, this is a lot of fun!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Thanks, Ferna. We had a lot of fun spending time together in nature!

  • Reply
    J Harvey
    August 14, 2017 at 9:08 am

    The Ozarks are so beautiful and tubing is such a relaxing fun way to spend the day!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

      It is a beautiful spot to do just about any outdoor activity! We loved floating.

  • Reply
    Paula
    August 15, 2017 at 2:23 am

    It seems really fun! I would love to visit, especially because of the crystal clear water. Must have amazing wildlife also out there! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:09 am

      We actually didn’t see much! Just a few small fish and a lot deer on the banks. I was back in the area last week and I saw a muskrat which was pretty creepy looking!

  • Reply
    juander woman
    August 15, 2017 at 4:48 am

    This is the first time I’m reading about this kind of activity. I hope someone from the Philippines would pick up this idea and make it happen here. It’s something I would seriously consider doing!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I bet there are several places in the Philippines that would be perfect for this! There’s so much Nature there!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    August 15, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Floating on the Current river looks like a really thrilling experience. What makes the experience even more fun for you is the fact that you are doing it with the family and hence this again adds to the charm. The river too looks really clear and tranquil too. Definitely the perfect time for some family laughs.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

      The family was certainly the best part! The river is so beaitiful too. Being Spring-fed gives it that stunning color!

  • Reply
    heatherhudak
    August 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    You guys look like you had so much fun floating on your tubes in Current River. I think it would be a great idea to get a big group together to do something like that! Definitely a must try.

  • Reply
    Jenna Kvidt
    August 16, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Such a fun way to spend a day with your family, and those bluffs are gorgeous! Looks like you all had a blast! I always love tubing down rivers, but we haven’t been in ages. Makes me want to go again sometime soon!

  • Reply
    Life is a Hotel
    August 16, 2017 at 2:48 am

    This is fun, especially when the weather is nice and you have your best friends next to you 🙂

    Is it fast? I’m really scared of deep water and speed (I know it’s stupid ;( )
    I would love to try it but not sure if my fears will survive it hahah 🙂

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Reply
    Blue Spring - A True Gem of the Ozarks - For the Love of Wanderlust
    August 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

    […] rivers are lined with springs that help feed them. These all combine into the stunningly colored Current River. While there are many springs along the rivers, one truly stands out: Blue […]

  • Reply
    Claire Sturzaker
    August 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun! I imagine any more than a couple of hours would get a bit samey -although in a group you an always natter! Don’t forget the sun screen too!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Made all the Difference
    August 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    It looks like you had an amazing time. I would love to spend a Saturday doing this. Plus look at the geology of those cliffs.

  • Reply
    Elaine Masters
    August 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Ohhh, this brings back memories not of the Ozarks but of the Sacramento area where I did almost the same many moons ago. It’s a blissful memory.

  • Reply
    Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    August 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Omg this is so cool. We did this in Thailand a few years back and they filled the coolie with beer. Probably not so great for health and safety but we had a ball!

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