Floating the Meramec River


After much anticipation, we finally dusted off our old kayaks and broke in the new ones this past weekend. On Saturday morning, we made the hour and a half drive down to Sullivan[ish], MO to take our virgin Meramec River float.


Robby and I have had kayaks for years. They mostly just take up space (that we definitely don’t have right now) in our garage but we keep them in the hopes that the older our kiddos get, the more use the kayaks will get. This year we even went so far as to buy two more to add to the collection, so that we could bring friends along with us.


We decided on the Meramec River because it’s supposedly an easily kayakable waterway, it’s not too far from home, we had never floated it before, and we were close to Meramec State Park (we wanted to camp in a state park as opposed to the private campgrounds where rambunctious crowds frequent).

Our plan was to leave Jeff City by 7:30am, but because we had to drop off both children that morning, and of course because we’re us, we were late. I don’t think we left until about 8:30 or 9:00ish. You’ll find that this was actually detrimental to the trip. Read on…..


We took two separate vehicles which I think is just nearly necessary. You will need one vehicle at your put-in access and one vehicle at your take-out point.


Photo credit to my good friend and kayaking buddy, Zach Paul


We put in at the Blue Springs Conservation Area in Bourbon, MO. From here, it is a 10-mile trip to Meramec State Park. Literature I’ve read shows a 10-mile float will take 4-6 hours. Unless you’re our crew. Then it takes 8. Prepare accordingly. Also, this was detrimental to the trip. Read on…..


Take Highway N, south for 2.5 miles to Blue Springs Rd

At the Bourbon, MO exit, off I-44, take Highway N, south for 2.5 miles to Blue Springs Rd


The access point is at the end of Blue Springs Rd

The access point is at the end of Blue Springs Rd

Two of us stayed at the conservation area with the kayaks, while the others took the vehicle with the trailer to leave at the campground. This took them right around an hour to do. Like I mentioned already, having two vehicles really is necessary but the time it took them to go to a check-in and vehicle drop off, and then returning to spot #1, was detrimental to the trip. Read on…


I agree with the aforementioned literature (I use that term loosely mind you) that this particular river is a great float. The steepest I found it to be was probably about 5-6 feet. There were many gravel bars along the way and it wasn’t crazy busy like you’d find on the Current, Huzzah, or Niangua Rivers.  The views were great, lots of bluffs lining the river and an awesome cave that everybody but me played in (Um, there’s darkness and bats and the unknowing in there!). The river wasn’t dirty but the water wasn’t clear either which was slightly disappointing but not a deal breaker.



Because we had so many setbacks (and because we goofed around A LOT) we didn’t hit the state park grounds until about 8:00pm. It’s getting a little dark around that time and of course the THUNDERSTORM OF THE CENTURY SHOULD HIT AT THIS EXACT TIME RENDERING YOU HELPLESS TO THE ELEMENTS.

This happened. On us. Photo credit to my good friend and kayaking buddy, Zach Paul

This happened. On us. Photo credit to my good friend and kayaking buddy, Zach Paul

Literally, as soon as we saw the take out access, the clouds opened up and dumped massive amounts of rain on us. We took cover (barely, just barely) under a state park signage post. This kept only our heads a little dry. Standing in the rain, in your swimsuit, freezing, and not being able to do anything about it is a terrible way to end such a great day. My poor, poor Robby had to walk through the pelting rain to seek out our truck. Which was a feat in and of itself since Meramec State Park is so ginormous that he didn’t even know where his truck was in relation to where we were at that time. Thank the good Lord above, he found the truck and came to rescue us. We were a sopping, wet mess and all in quite a mood by this time. We laughed about our misfortune the next morning but there was lots of silence in the truck that night. To top it all off, we obviously couldn’t set up our tents in this nastiness and the closest hotel that wasn’t booked full was 45 minutes away in Rolla! What a drive after all this nonsense we just went through! And we were all so looking forward to camping! But we made it in one piece, it was quite the experience, and we’ve lived to tell about it. Although, I’ll be okay if I never have another one like it.


Tell me, what’s your favorite stream or river to float on?