Narrowing down options for the Current River

I’m taking a group down to the Current River soon(ish). We will be going in early Autumn (possibly my favorite time of year to hit this gem), during the week so as to avoid crowds. I’ve paddled the stretch from Cedar Grove to Pulltite several times and have gone the extra distance to Round Spring a couple times as well. I’ve come to enjoy this river even more over the last couple years due to reliable water levels, great hammock camping options and a growing sense of familiarity. I’d like to break out of the rut of paddling the same stretch every time so I’m considering putting in at Akers and ending at Two Rivers. I am planning on allocating three nights to make camp on the water for a leisurely trip. I have a first-timer with so I figure I can show that individual some of the highlights I am familiar with (e.g. Cave Spring, Pulltite Spring) and also add a new section for those of us who have been in the presence of those attractions a number of times already. What I’m looking for here is a bit of knowledge about the nature of the river downstream from Round Spring. Part of the appeal of this trip are the numerous opportunities for us to test our homemade hammock setups. I would say the best camps I’ve encountered (for our purposes) exist between Pulltite and Round Spring. There are plenty of gravel bars that offer great hammock options with little undergrowth. I’m hoping the camping options remain consistent from Round Spring to Two Rivers. I’m also hoping it’s an attractive stretch. If you are familiar with this stretch, please share your thoughts and what you like (or dislike) about it. Are there any must-see features or side hikes along the way? Is it worth the extra miles to go down to Two Rivers? Is there a more scenic reach I haven’t mentioned? Anything you wish to share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

You will encounter a few more boats & motors below Round Spring, and the river is a bit wider in spots, but it’s worth it. The bluffs are larger and more numerous in this stretch. My wife and some friends just did a Fri-Sun trip Pulltite to Two Rivers. Bee Bluff is one of many and if you go a few more miles down and take out at the gravel bar across from Blue Spring or on down to Logyard it’s well worth a little more paddling effort.
Forewarning, starting September 15th it is gigging season. You WILL see boats on the river as it is legal to gig until midnight. The first week or so, you will see boats with powerful lights.
Here’s a link to some of my pics of the lower Current (below Round Spring).

I’m sure that I have not paddled the stretch between Round Spring and Two Rivers as many times as Terry has, who commented above, but I have done it a half-dozen times or so. The scenic bluffs are what stand out in my mind. This stretch is around 18 miles in length so fewer paddle boaters will choose to do it as a day trip. You can take out at Jerktail Landing, but to do so requires a 14 mile round trip on a gravel road that can add about an hour to shuttle time.

The motor traffic might be more prevalent but is perhaps less an issue than further upstream since the river tends to be wider so that powered and non-powered craft are not competing for the same constricted channel. The gigging boats can at times be an aggravation, however. I have had the experience of these load boats with very bright lights cruising repeatedly upstream and downstream directly adjacent to my campsite.

wildernesswebb & pblanc,

Thanks for the information as well as the great photo! I believe I encountered a gigging boat on the stretch between cedar grove and pultite last fall. I was a little perplexed about the boat out at night with an incredibly bright light, but now I know! I’m now considering taking out at jerktail to reduce the necessary daily mileage. So long as an outfitter will shuttle my vehicle to that landing and floater parking is available, the extra drive time won’t be much of a consideration for me. I usually pay to have my truck and boat trailer shuttled to the take out, so I can get on the road sooner. I have between a 6.5 and 7 hour drive home from that area and it’s definitely worth the extra money to see my vehicle waiting at the end and also, it ends up saving on gas if we can eliminate the need for a second passenger vehicle on that long drive. Thanks again guys!

Those gigging boats are piloted & manned by “Cajuns”.
When you see/hear them coming; run away, run away.
They’ll take your boat, kidnap your kids & your wife, and pillage your camp.
No telling what they’ll do to you!


P.S. Best bet; paddle that river on weekdays only, whether it’s gigging season or not.

Your choice of take out might be determined by whether an outfitter will do your shuttle and to what point. Outfitters charge a pretty price in the ONSR which you are probably aware of if you have used them. I have not seen any post rates for shuttles downstream of Round Spring but I’m sure that Two Rivers Canoe Rental does shuttles upstream of Two Rivers, but I’m not sure how far upstream. They have a campground and you can leave your vehicle with them. I’m also not too sure how eager anyone would be to run a shuttle to Jerktail Landing. The gravel road is not bad, but you can’t go very fast so the 13-14 mile round trip to and from Route 19 seems like it takes forever.

Taking out at Jerktail Landing cuts off about 6 river miles (to Two Rivers) at the cost of 6-7 miles of gravel road. Personally, I would rather paddle the river miles than drive the gravel road, although taking out at Jerktail would cut a couple of hours off the total trip time if that is important. From Akers down to Two Rivers is about 37 miles give or take. I don’t know how leisurely a pace you want to go at, but it seems to me that distance would be very easily doable in two longer days with a short day on the river the first and last day.

Don’t worry about the Cajuns. Just offer to clean their fish for them, feed them plenty of brandy and bourbon and they can be tolerably good company. As long as you don’t mind accordion music.

Cajuns eh? I don’t think they have anything on the bold raccoon that terrorized our camp last June. We have plenty in Iowa and they’ve harassed camps of mine on numerous occasions, but this is the first time I’ve awoken to find a hole chewed completely through the side of one of my “durable” dry bags and a bag of (previously) unopened and vacuum-sealed trailmix devoured. I think I’ll be bringing my bear canister along this time…
Also, I wouldn’t dream of putting in on a weekend during peak season. Things were going pretty well as far as crowds went this past trip, but we eventually floated to Akers (on a Monday I believe) and an absolutely terrifying scene unfolded. A group of about 50 or so Scouts were launching on a week-long trek, right as we were paddling by. When I say they were launching “as we were paddling by,” I mean they were taking off, directly into the ranks of our group, with absolutely no regard for our very existence. The mayhem caused by congested chutes, jubilent screams and overall lack of paddling etiquette was such that I suggested we make camp before Pultite landing and let them go on their merry way. The horror! The horror!
Pblanc, you make an excellent point. It’d be better to float a few extra miles than add a stretch of less than desirable road to my long drive home. Also, I’m sure the outfitters don’t enjoy shuttling to that landing if the drive is a slow one and they’d probably either outright refuse or charge a price they deem worth their while.
The first time I paddled The Current was an overnight from Cedar Grove to Round Spring in late October and what struck me the most about that stretch was the surreal water clarity. I had run Ponca to Pruitt for the first time that same year in late April, at somewhat low water and also had done a first-time 7 day rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho in July so it wasn’t the Bluffs, sense of remoteness or overall surrounding scenic qualities that put the Current high on my list, rather, it was that freakishly clear water that gave the illusion of my boat skimming over a perfectly clear glass surface. I haven’t seen the water so clear on any of my return trips in fall, winter or otherwise and I’m wondering if this has to do with often taking out upstream from Pultite spring? When I went to Round Spring this past June, there was a notable increase in turbidity, somewhat downstream from Pultite (still very clear by Iowa standards), but there were record floods that spring and, considering the time of year, I expected as much. Anyhow, in my long-winded way, I suppose I’m asking if the water typically runs clear-as-can-be in certain stretches (i.e. downstream from particular springs) or is water clarity entirely contingent on rainfall or perhaps it’s a case of both?

First, I would not recommend leaving a vehicle at Jerktail. Long gravel road is only one issue, but the place is a “Party” spot sometimes and your odds of a break in or damage is higher. Also, it’s just 2 hours more paddling to Two Rivers, where you’ll have an easier takeout, a bathroom, water, and the drive to Eminence is no further.

Water clarity varies with water level, how long it’s been since it rained, etc. Sometimes you won’t see ANY rain and there will be a storm in a watershed that dumps into a spring and it will turn the water turbid. In fall and winter the water gets lower and it is often “Gin clear.” I can’t tell a big difference in general water clarity since the floods and I’m pretty certain no one has spent as many days on the Current River as I have this year?

NO “Turbidity” yesterday, despite some showers on the river. Also, late summer flowers are prolific now. Floaters? Well, we talked to one nice couple at Pulltite access and saw no one the rest of the day.

Wildernesswebb, Thanks for the heads up about Jerktail landing. That is very valuable information and, of course, my preference would be to have peace of mind about my vehicle and trailer.
Regarding the water clarity, its entirely possible my memories are skewed due to elapsed time and the awe of a first impression.
Thanks for the great photos and information. You have all been extremely helpful. If you ever see a guy with long gray hair paddling a green Bell Yellowstone solo, stop and say hello. Happy paddling.

@Driftlesspaddler said:
Wildernesswebb, Thanks for the heads up about Jerktail landing. That is very valuable information and, of course, my preference would be to have peace of mind about my vehicle and trailer.
Regarding the water clarity, its entirely possible my memories are skewed due to elapsed time and the awe of a first impression.
Thanks for the great photos and information. You have all been extremely helpful. If you ever see a guy with long gray hair paddling a green Bell Yellowstone solo, stop and say hello. Happy paddling.

I’ll be looking for you! What days are you going to be there, again?

Our tentative plan is to start the drive on the morning of Saturday, 10/7. We’ll probably arrive early to mid afternoon. What I haven’t decided yet, is if we will try to find a camp site and put in Sunday morning or simply put in on Saturday, late afternoon. If we camp, things get a bit tricky since most of us have switched to hammocks. Cedar Grove is our preferred spot for this reason but I know from experience the campsites could very well be occupied by Saturday afternoon, which is why I’m leaning towards driving to Akers, loading boats, making shuttle arrangements and just grabbing the first suitable place to camp on the river we can find. We should be on the water, with certainty, Sunday, 10/8 and taking out Wednesdy 10/11. It’ll be a group of, at least, 3 people with possibly as many as 6. The others will be in a colorful array of kayaks and I will be piloting the green solo canoe. Feel free to shoot me an email:

If you have any extra free days available, there will be a sizable group meeting at Pulltite Campground that week and the following weekend. Some will be arriving on Monday the 9th and/or Tuesday the 10th and some will be there at least through Sunday the 15th. We will be base camping at Pulltite and doing day trips on the Current and possibly the Jacks Fork from Alley to Eminence. If you wanted to come up to Pulltite on Wednesday the 11th there would be people to paddle with for at least the next 4 days, and you wouldn’t have to pay for any shuttles.

Pulltite is amenable to hammocks…