Family Weekender: St. Louis

Ozark National Scenic Riverways
By Gary Lantz
Go Guide: Ozark Scenic Riverways

Activities: Canoeing, swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, wading, wildlife viewing, picnicking, photography.

Age Levels: All ages.

Hours from St. Louis: 2/3 hours.

Getting There: Take Interstate 44 east to Hwy 68/19, then 68/19 south to Eminence. To reach park headquarters, take Hwy 19 south to Hwy 60, then travel east to Van Buren.

Contact: Ozark National Scenic Waterways, 404 Watercress Drive, P.O. Box 490, Van Buren, MO, 63965. Call (573)323-4236, or visit

Reference: Missouri Ozark Waterways. Oscar Hawksley. Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.


The Jack's Fork and Current Rivers rise from springs near Mountain View and Montauk State Park, draining rugged hill country known for its dense woodland and numerous limestone sinkholes and caves. These sparkling rivers derive sixty percent of their flow from seven major springs, and at least 51 lesser springs can be found in the drainage basin. Some 134 miles of both the Jack's Fork and the Current are protected by their National Scenic River status.

Jack's Fork joins the Current east of Eminence, then flows south and east through Ozark National Scenic Riverways headquarters in Van Buren. The surrounding parkland includes almost 81,000 acres, idyllic for hiking and backpacking — and with at least 300 recorded caves, amateur spelunkers of all ages will be giddy with all territory they have to explore.

Below Van Buren, Big Spring contributes to the Current an average of 276 million gallons of water per day, all of it clear, cold and breathtakingly beautiful. The springs insure a steady flow even in the hottest summer months, and a gentle current keeps these rivers ideal for beginning paddlers.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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