Advice sought for Current River trip

My wife and I would like to do a multiple day trip on the Current River in Missouri sometime this year. Ideally we’d do a weekday trip to avoid the weekend yahoos as most write-ups recommend. Ideally we’d like to go for probably four or five days. The plan would be to park the car at the take out and get shuttled however many miles up to the put in and just camp out every night on the river itself. Unfortunately, it’s been over 30 years since I’ve been on the Current and that was in Boy Scouts at the time. If you’re taking your time and only have one boat, what is the average distance covered in a day? I know there have to be plenty of factors that affect time and distance, but I’m just looking for a general idea. I guess I’d like to know about how much distance we could expect to cover in about 4 days. Also, how much does a shuttle typically cost for a couple people with gear and one boat? If you were planning a similar trip, what portion of the river would you go on in order to see as much of the scenic attractions as possible. I’m remembering some of the caves with springs as well as some of the ruined buildings as well. So any thoughts or suggestions? Suggestions of websites to go look at that might give some more information? Thanks!

A little info
this might help - - it’s as nice as you remember.

It All Depends

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 8:22 AM EST –

We usually paddle 9-10 miles at a stretch, but that's because we have driving time, shuttle, and I take a lot of pictures and occasionally fish. Also that's about the length my wife likes. If you like to fish, that or a few less miles. If you're the kind of person that is interested in getting from point A to point B, don't believe in taking breaks, pictures, and enjoying the scenery, 25 miles a day is easily done. Also if water levels are up, it will go much further.

If the water level is at least 350cfs on the Montauk gauge, I'd start at Baptist Camp access. If less, probably Cedar Grove. If in drought, you may have to start at Akers. By then, there's always plenty of water as Welch Spring dumps in about 1.5 miles above. Heck, there's actually a small access right there that you can put in at.

We typically don't paddle much below Powder Mill Ferry/Owl's Bend. You start seeing jet boats about Round Spring and the further down you go, the more frequently you'll see them. Even through the week, you'll see them in July and August. Personally, I probably would go no further than Big Spring (a few miles below Van Buren). That's going to be about 80-90 miles and 4-5 days.

I've been paddling there since the '70's, but my buddy Bob has been paddling there even more. He also recently did a trip down to Doniphan (a little above the Arkansas line). I'll clue him in and he'll give you some invaluable information.

My 2 cents worth…

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 7:34 PM EST –

(1) Contact Missouri Dept of Conservation in Jefferson City, Missouri, and buy a copy of the book, A Paddler's Guide to Missouri.
Might be able to order the book at your local bookstore.
Price of book is negligible compared to benefit of having a copy available. Probably about 5 bucks.

(2)Definitely go on weekdays; no matter what section of the river you choose; especially from May through August.

(3)By the end of April, the "river dork"(drunks in rental canoes) migration to the Current river will most definitely affect the peace & quiet on the river.

Also, the "jon boat jockies"(drunks in jon boats driving fast from point A to point B, from point B to point A & repeating same incessantly) will become more prevalent.

I have noticed recently, the tendency for the "jon boat jockies" to congregate on the best gravel bars(where you'd like to camp)until near dark on summer weekends. As darkness approaches; the "jockies" & their bow babes haul ass back to their put in, load up the jon boat & head for home. They often leave the gravel bar trashed with beer cans, chip bags, leftover food, wine cooler bottles, toilet paper piles, and smouldering fire pits.
A friend & I recently counted 78 beer cans, discarded in plain sight on one such gravel bar. There wasn't enough rooom in the 7 jon boats that pulled out to carry out the trash I guess? They are another good reason to stay off the river on weekends.

For the amount of time you want to travel; I would suggest a trip from Cedar Grove to Owl's Bend. This will give you a good sampling of the river, and some nice scenic locations.(See suggested book for more info.)

That is basically a 50 mile trip; easily doable in 4 days, with plenty of time for rest breaks, and a little "wander around", and check out the sights time. The majority of the river is class 1; the biggest hazard will be strainers.

Do not count on the availability of a cell phone signal while on the river. In most locations it ain't gonna happen! My experience has been that you will rarely, if ever, see a park ranger, or conservation agent on your trip. Be prepared to be self sufficient(and all that goes with that), if you need help. Having a first aid kit with you is smart. Common sense will go a long way in assuring a safe & enjoyable river trip.

Do NOT take any bottles out on the Current River. The reasons are blatently obvious, and you can get fined for carrying them, if one of the rangers blunders onto you, while you're actually using the bottles.

Secure your food from raccoons. There are a lot of regulars out there who make the rounds of gravel bars nearly every night. They have learned to check out the popular gravel bars where "river dorks", and "jon boat jockies" congregate & use as trash dumps.

The animal that you punch from inside your tent, when it runs into your tent in the dark may be a skunk, amaradillo, raccoon, or possum. It might even be a black bear?
If it's a skunk; hopefully it not spray your tent....... I was lucky; it was a "big" skunk & it didn't retaliate!

The Current IS a beautiful, although "overloved" river, and there are some GREAT locals who live in that area. I hope those people are the ones you meet on your trip.

I don't use outfitters to run shuttles for me on the Current river. It is cheaper, and more convenient for my wife & I to take 2 vehicles & run our own shuttles for our 2 solo canoes.
There are more than a few outfitters available near the Current river. I would guesstimate the type of shuttle you will need will cost in the neighborhood of 75 at minimum. Ask the outfitter to move your vehicle to your take out "on the day you plan to take off the river". Unattended vehicles, left sitting for several days at take outs, make "attractive targets".

I base my suggestions on over 50 years of paddling on the Current river; a year & a half of which was spent camped on it's river banks.
BUT, as Chas so poignantly stated, "I ain't no role model"!

For a slightly more rustic, and adventuresome trip; you will find the Eleven Point to be less populated. It also has some very inviting scenery, and points of interest. Cane Bluff access to the Hwy. 142 access is approx. 35 miles. Seldom ever low enough to be a big hassle, or require more than decent river reading skills. Never over low class 2, and seldom that, except in flood. A "great" alternative; one of what I consider to be the crown jewels of the Ozarks.........the Buffalo river in Arkansas.


P.S. Missouri is once again at the top, or near the top of the list for meth production in the United States. Get too far off the beaten path, and there is no telling who, or what you might "stumble upon".
All the guys driving around on the riverbank back roads in pickups, or on 4 wheelers at night are not out there observing noctural wildlife. Some of them ain't even poaching deer.

Thanks for the info
I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of that guidebook. Also I had read numerous places that the river is best floated north of Big Spring due to the power boater issues south of there. We’re definitely planning a trip during the week but will likely hold out until late Summer or early Fall. It’s been years since either of us has done any camping, so we’ll be doing some trial runs on nearby rivers before we make the trip to the Current. Since we live in Chicago, we’re planning on making a stop over trip at Cahokia Mounds on the way to the Current River. We’re tentatively planning on making a whole weeks worth of outdoor nature and historical adventure. Anyway, thanks for all the advice!

Power boat on the Current…
What you read/heard about power boats is correct.

Further south you go; the more horsepower they allow. Don’t know the exact numbers, but can gurantee you it’s way more than needed for fishing. Of course fishing is not the intention of the “jon boat jockies”.

Some of them are a real hazards(drunk/possibly stoned)to navigation. Have seen one of them pull into Cave Spring on the Current under power. Cave Spring is a spot where “many” people take a break, paddling from the river into the cave entrance. Have seen “many” jon boaters come around blind curves, and do 180 or complete 360 degree spins, after losing control of their boat. Their have been instances of them running over swimmers in the river, and canoes.

Old timers on the Current river didn’t need Black Max motors on a jon boat; they poled & paddled their wooden, home made jon boats for fishing. Of course they were not trying to set their hair on fire, going from point A to point B.

Cahokia: Great idea; wonderful, fascinating spot to visit.

Good luck,