Hi all. I haven’t posted here in a long time. I live in central Illinois and I have a few days off in September (24-29) and I’m interested in paddling one of the Ozark rivers like Jack’s Fork, Current, or Eleven Point.
I will have my 21 foot class C motorhome and my canoe trailer for moving boats. I’m thinking about bringing my Novacraft Bob Special and paddling it solo with my two small dogs. I want to end a day-long paddle at a decent campsite where my motorhome would already be parked.
Since it is just me and the dogs, I will need shuttle service.
So, is this something that is doable? Anyone know a good section that would fit the bill for this?
One other possible scenario would be to do a two day float and tent camp for one night along the way. The Bob Special would certainly be able to carry what I need for that.
Thanks for any advice!
There are campgrounds managed by the National Park Service on the upper Current River at Pulltite and Round Spring and another NPS campground at Alley Spring on the Jacks Fork River. If you need electrical and water hookups there are 6 such sites at Round Spring and 26 at Alley Spring Campground. These book up early during the Summer but you can probably reserve one for dates after Labor Day after which business on the rivers slows down significantly. I believe the maximum RV length is 36 feet.
You can also take an RV to most of the campsites at Pulltite campground but there are electric or water hookups at that campground. You can run a generator up until 10 PM.
Reservations for these campgrounds can be made at the recreation dot gov website.
Shuttling may be more of an issue. If you want to have your motorhome set up at camp and have no other vehicle to haul your boat and gear you will have to find an outfitter willing to do so and many outfitters have stopped shuttling private boats and gear, although they usually will shuttle a vehicle from put-in to take-out. Current River Canoe is the outfitter at Pulltite Campground and Carr’s Canoe is the outfitter at Round Spring. They are owned by the same family. They were not shuttling any private boats and gear last year but I have been told they will sometimes this year, although that policy could change at any time. After Labor Day I wouldn’t count on any of the outfitters stores at the campsites to be open, especially on weekdays, so if you need yourself, your boat, and your gear hauled from take-out to put-in you will need to be sure you have made arrangements in advance.
Some trips on the upper Current with approximate river miles per stretch are below: Cedargrove to Akers Ferry 8 miles, Akers Ferry to Pulltite 9 1/2 miles, Pulltite to Round Spring Campground 9 1/2 miles. Either Cedargrove to Round Spring (approx 27 miles) or Akers Ferry to Round Spring (approx 19 miles) would be suitable for two day, one night trips. There are plenty of gravel bars suitable for camping on the Current and Jacks Fork. Gravel bars are less numerous on the Eleven Point.
On the Eleven Point River there are no campgrounds with hookups right on the river. Hufstedler’s is an outfitter on the Eleven Point River that has a campground with a few electric hookups but I’m not sure about water. They are situated very close to the Eleven Point River at Riverton where Hwy 160 crosses the Eleven Point. You could easily walk from the river access to the campground but I’m not as sure you would want to portage your boat and gear (although it would be feasible). Wendy at Hufstedler’s is one concessionaire that might still be willing to shuttle your boat, dog, and gear.
From Greer Crossing (where Hwy 19 crosses the river) to Riverton is 19 miles and makes for a very nice overnight trip. Alternatives for shorter trips are Turner’s Mill to Riverton (approx 14 miles) or Whitten access to Riverton (approx 8 miles).
If you want any further information about these campgrounds, the rivers, or how to contact the outfitters, send me a PM.
Pblanc, thanks so very much for the response. It seems like this is not very conducive to doing by oneself. I will contact a couple of places and see what they say about shuttling.
I very seldom resort to using an outfitter to shuttle my vehicle or my boats. Those that still do shuttle a private boat will generally charge you the same fee that they would charge you to rent one of their boats. Their price for shuttling a vehicle is also usually pretty substantial, like $70 to shuttle it only 10 miles.
There is a facebook group for the Current River, Jacks Fork, and Eleven Point rivers. You might be able to arrange to meet someone at one of the campgrounds to help shuttle. But if you don’t have a mobile vehicle you will generally need at least two other vehicles to make it work.
If you do find an outfitter willing to shuttle you, your dogs, and your gear and boats, be sure you get the name of the person you talked to and record the date of the conversation and the agreed price. I have had the experience of one outfitter quoting me a rather high price to shuttle just me (no gear or boats) by allowing me to ride on the bus that was carrying one of their scheduled trips and was going to where I wanted to put-in already. When the day came, they quoted me a price $10 higher. I managed to catch a ride with a couple of guys who were driving from Akers Ferry to Cedargrove and saved myself a fair bit of money.
Another outfitter, in fact Carr’s Canoe at Round Spring gave a friend of mine a lot of grief when he called to try to arrange a shuttle for private boats for a group of 12 paddlers. He arranges trips twice a year on the three rivers and had used Carr’s Canoe to shuttle the groups boats in April of 2021. When he called to try to arrange the same for August 2021 whoever he talked to at Carr’s told him that not only did Carr’s not shuttle private boats, they had never done so. I then saw a post on the aforementioned FB group page from one of the members of the family that owns Carr’s Canoe that they did shuttle private boats but that the policy could change at any time. I called her attention to my friend’s experience and she basically disavowed any responsibility saying they couldn’t be responsible for what one of their employees said.
In short, don’t necessarily trust what you are told by someone answering the phone at one of the concessionaire’s offices.