How do you decide where to go paddling?

-- Last Updated: Aug-26-11 4:37 PM EST --

I want to meet some friends halfway between wisconsin and georgia for a week-long canoe-camping trip next summer, but I dont know where to go on the internet to find the best spots. Is there some all-encompassing repository of great canoe camping areas on the internet?

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for canoe camping in the ozarks/kentucky area, I would love to hear them.

Hate to state the obviuos, just in case

some possibilities
The Current River in the Missouri Ozarks.

The Buffalo River in the Arkansas Ozarks.

The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Kentucky.

Good possibilities…
but they are going to be crowded in the summer. Even on weekdays. I live in the Ozarks, and I can tell you that there are lots and lots of good canoe-camping choices…but you need to decide what you want and what you need.

  1. Do you need to rent a canoe or obtain a shuttle? This limits the streams you can do a bit, because not all Ozark streams are well-covered by canoe rentals.

  2. Do you plan to camp on gravel bars on the river, or do you need developed campgrounds?

  3. Do you want the best scenery the region has to offer, with the understanding that the best scenery will probably be on crowded rivers, or do you want good scenery with fewer people?

  4. Do you want an easy float with plenty of water and plenty of current to move you along, or would you be willing to put up with less water or slower water, meaning more work paddling, but with fewer people?

    I can give you suggestions for all those “wishes”, just specify what you want.

Canoe Camping
Try Canoe Camping USA

we’ll have some inexperience paddlers.

Ideally it might be a slow water (even lake or flowage) situation where we could get in and get out at the same place (no shuttle needed).

I guess I would rather have less traffic and less beautiful scenery.

I would love an opportunity to portage to an area that ONLY paddlers can get to.

I think we would like some campsites with a fire ring, outhouse, etc. nothing fancy, no electricity

My search has strayed a little out of the ozarks, but I am currently looking at Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area as a solid choice

Grayson Lake KY
One of the prettiest places in the eastern US. The Clifty Creek run is an out n’ back and quite easy. Video:

Southern Illinois
There are several nice little lakes with 10HP motor limits in Southern Illinois. I know some have basic camping facilities. One of the lake is called little grassy. You will find the others from there. Fishing pretty good, Seen better scenery, don’t know about crowds but I would think they would not be too bad on a weekday.

USGS river gauges:

American Whitewater has descriptions of many runs:

Eleven Point River
Not far from the Current River. Beautiful place and alot of history there too. In the heart of the Irish Wilderness. One of my favorite places!!