Looking for a unique and cheap family vacation idea that’s also easy to plan? If you love the water and don’t mind roughing it a bit, a float trip in Missouri might just be what you’re looking for on your next vacation.
And not just any float trip, but in the state of Missouri, which is well known for its winding lazy rivers, beautiful scenery, and incredible opportunities for riverside camping. Taking a float trip is a summer rite of passage for locals, but you don’t need to live in the area to enjoy this fun activity.
Missouri is one of the best places to travel in the US if you’re looking for a river to float. There are so many rivers in this state, that you could spend a lifetime exploring them.
But if you don’t want to do that, we’ve got suggestions for the top float trips in Missouri you’d want to check out. Whether you’ve got an afternoon or a full week to spend on the water, there’s a MO float trip with your name on it.
What’s a Float Trip?
First, some background information, because there are lots of folks out there that have never been on a float trip and may not even know what a float trip is. You need two things for a successful float trip — a river and something to float on.
Aside from that, the skies are the limit. You can float for a few hours or the whole summer, especially if you head to Missouri, which boasts more than 50,000 miles of river!
As far as what to float on goes, you’ve got a lot of flexibility. Canoes and kayaks are common, as well as inner tubes, rafts, and even livestock tanks. You’ve heard the saying — whatever floats your boat…
Generally, innertubes and rafts are good for floats under six miles and will travel at rates of a mile per hour or less. Canoes and kayaks are better for longer float trips, including overnight trips. If you’re floating with a dog, you want to use a boat. Ditto if you have a lot of gear.
So, once you’ve figured out your time limitations and figured out your floating apparatus, you need to choose a Missouri river to float on, arrange for transportation, and, if applicable, figure out where you’ll be spending the night.
Fortunately, the most popular Missouri rivers for floating also feature dozens of campgrounds, vacation rentals, hotels, and outfitters to make planning your trip super easy.
Looking to take the RV on our Missouri Vacation? Use our Interactive RV Departure Lists, so you don’t miss a thing.
How long Is A Float Trip?
Float trips in Missouri can last as long as you want, but there are some logistics at play that you will need to plan ahead for. If you are accessing a float shuttle service and/or rental service, they will likely have a set itinerary in place.
Float trip services are great because they take care of all the planning. All you have to do is show up with your bathing suit and sunscreen.
The majority of MO float trips arranged by outfitters are day-long adventures. The service will pick you up at your campground or arrange a meeting time. They will drive you upriver, provide you with your floatation device, and send you on your way.
You will either float the river back to your campground or to an arranged meeting place where the shuttle service will pick you up and bring you back to your car or lodging.
You don’t necessarily have to use a shuttle service to embark on a MO float trip. You just need to have two cars available for transporting you and your boats or floats.
With this scenario, you pick your stretch of river, choose your campground if necessary, drop one car at your endpoint, and then drive the other car with your floats up to your starting point.
This allows you to start and end your float trip whenever you want.
How much is a float trip in Missouri?
There are many different float trip options available in Missouri, so prices can vary depending on the length and difficulty of the trip, as well as the amenities included. Some basic half-day trips can start at around $50 per person, while more extensive multi-day excursions can cost several hundred dollars per person.
What Should I Bring on a Float Trip?
When it comes to planning a float trip, figuring out what to bring is one of the most important aspects. It’s kind of like planning for a sunny day at the beach, but you also want to make sure that all of your gear can get wet because there’s a good chance that it will.
The following packing list assumes that you are embarking on a traditional day-long float trip.
- Swimsuit – Your float trip swimsuit should not be your most expensive and cherished suit. It will likely get muddy, and the river mud will sometimes stain white or light bathing suits.
- Drybag – The vessel you use to float down the river will dictate how much you bring. If you are floating in an inner tube, you can invest in a drybag for your clothes, keys, wallet, and phone and attach it to the side of the tube with some paracord or a carabiner. If you are taking your float trip in a boat, you can bring more gear, so you will need a bigger dry bag. I recommend a minimum of 20 liters.
- Towel – A regular old beach towel will do fine, but if you’re short on space, try a packable camp towel.
- Waterproof phone case – Especially important if you plan on using your phone for taking pictures, videos, or listening to music during your float trip.
- Water bottle – It can be very easy to forget to drink when floating. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. (We love Hydroflask, by the way!)
- Lunch and snacks – Pack a non-perishable picnic and store it in your dry bag. Another option is to invest in a floating cooler for the river to take along with you. Great snacks include trail mix, beef jerky, string cheese, granola bars, fruit, and chopped veggies.
- Water shoes – Sandals, like our favorite Keen Rose Sandals or Xero Shoes work well, as do form-fitting water shoes. Don’t forgo these, as there are lots of rocky bottoms and shores.
- Flashlight or headlamp – In case you’re floating after dark.
- Sunscreen, bugspray, and a basic first aid kit Get 10% off first order at MyMedic.com
- Sunglasses (If you order through Blountville Family Eyecare, we will give you a 20% discount: Call the office and tell them you saw it on VeraVise Outdoor Living. We can only ship in the US)
Optional Gear for Your MO Float Trip
In addition to the necessities mentioned above, the following items make a great addition to any float trip.
- Go Pro or Underwater Camera – If you want to capture every crazy moment on the water, stash your phone somewhere safe, and opt for a rugged, waterproof camera that you won’t have to worry about keeping dry. (AKASO also makes a great waterproof camera as a budget option)
- Waterproof speaker – Care for some tunes with your river adventure? Bring along a waterproof speaker and start creating your perfect summer playlist.
- Binoculars – You never know what you’ll see along the river!
- Snorkel and mask or goggles – If you get tired of floating, you can explore under the water.
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If you enjoyed this travel guide, you might also want to check out these campgrounds in Pigeon Forge with a Lazy River.