Summer Canoeing in the Ozarks

August 7th, 2007

     We spent a few days last week in southern Missouri, canoeing and camping on one of the many beautiful rivers in the Ozarks.   We made the same trip when the young one was four years old… that was quite the adventure.  This time he was six, and probably had a lot more fun.  We were joined by the young pup this time however, and it too was quite the adventure!  A grand time however, with a canoe filled with camping gear, an excited boy and a water-loving Labrador.  My goal was to have fun… and not tip over!  The water is calm and peaceful in many places, and low enough that even the faster narrows were shallow and easy to navigate.  We took our time, fishing at most of the likely “holes” or pools.   We also swam and played in the fast water, and camped on a gravel bar one night. Canoeing is perhaps the quintessential Missouri experience in summer, with an abundance of rivers and choices for where to go. 

Young Boy, Yellow Labrador in Canoe on a Missouri River © Fox Haven Media 2007

The young boy and the Yellow Labrador enjoy paddling in the canoe.  Both have life jackets on, which many people thought funny for a Labrador Retriever.  But several stretches of the river had high bluffs on both sides… if you tip over you’re going to be swimming for a while.  Not having to worry about the dog allows you to focus on keeping people safe.  Besides… the pup really enjoyed having it on and swimming more easily! He did pretty well in the canoe, although 75 pounds of Lab walking from side to side can make the canoe a little tippy!




Boy, Girl and Yellow Labrador enjoying the river™s current

 For a little fun on a hot day, swimming in a cold river is a wonderful experience.  These rivers are spring fed and very refreshing, especially when it’s almost 100 degrees F outdoors… We found a nice fast water area where the kids could float down the river.  Life jackets are a must, and the adults waited to catch the kids as they came floating by.  The young boy met a young girl his age… they held hands with each other a dozen times or so.  The Lab was not to be outdone, he went down each time with them!



Dad and Yellow Lab going down the river

 ‘Ole Dad joined in the fun and went swimming with the boy, and the dog!  The Lab pup kept trying to swim upstream, which doesn’t work very well in fast water.  I finally managed to turn his head around and he enjoyed it much more.  It was funny… just like on the leash, he likes to “walk himself” by grabbing it in his mouth… so he found a strap on the life jacket to “swim himself” down the river.  What a funny dog… he was ready for more each time.





Young boy™s collection of neat stuff in the canoe

Naturally the young boy loves to collect things… here is his “river collection” gathered during one day.  He was cute… I didn’t really notice he was collecting things, but saw him sneak back to the canoe several times and found his treasure. The little stick bundle is a “boat” and of course he loves rocks and leaves.  We put them back in the river at the end of the trip, but he kept a few mussel shells, leaves and sticks to take home!





Dad and Son with Rainbow Trout

One of the pleasures of a canoe trip is fishing… and Rainbow Trout can be found in several areas.  It took some effort, but after waking up early on the river one morning I was fortunate to catch a few nice trout for lunch.  This one was almost 18 inches… a real beauty!  The young one helped me net the fish.  I’m not a purist by any means, and enjoy trying various methods with lures and “dough bait” on little hooks. On another trip I’ll try the fly rod… but this time we enjoyed trout for lunch and supper! 








He caught his own fish too!

The young one caught his own fish too!  We were talking and he said, “Do you think I’ll catch a fish?  I think I will!”… and the very next cast, he did!







After a long day on the river, the Yellow Lab was content to relax at the campsite… a gravel bar along the water.  He swam so much that he was really tired at the end of the day!  He was happy at that point to watch us playing and fishing in the river, but awoke the next morning ready for more. 

A very tired Yellow Labrador Retriever after a day on the river

It was a great experience… a few days of fun in the sun, and a trip to remember!

5 Responses to “Summer Canoeing in the Ozarks”

  1. Okay, so was this a nice river? From where to where?

  2. Hi Pablo- It was really a short 8 miles or so. But we fished the holes and took our time. There’s a really neat spring about 2/3rds of the way down on the left. Just a short hike up the trail past the grist mill ruins to a beautiful aqua pool about a quarter acre in size. Folks were scuba diving when we stopped by. If one really liked to paddle I would probably double the distances…

  3. Ahoy !

    I enjoyed reading your canoe story, thank you. My wife & I paddle every summer with our dogs, camping whenever we get a chance. I’ve joined the link to my canoe blog, but my writing is all in french ! You can look at the pictures I guess…

    Now you’ve given me the bug to canoe the Ozarks !

    Happy paddles ,

  4. I forgot to mention I’m from the Montreal region. I’m blessed living a stones throw from countless miles of lakes and rivers. I cross the street from my house with my canoe on my shoulders and put in the Outaouais river/Lake of Two Mountains.
    These historic canoe routes were traveled by the “voyageurs” of the fur trade. I’d really like to put in somewhere near Ottawa and paddle back to Montreal … one of these days !

    So much water, so little time !

  5. Hello Frank- Oh, it looks so beautiful where you live- and the history! I’ve never been to Montreal or the region, but maybe someday too. I love your canoeing pictures on your blog too! Thanks for your comments :)

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