A float trip is one of the most fun and easy ways to spend time outdoors during the peak of summer. It doesn’t take a lot of gear, as just about anything you need can be rented.
Liveries exist on many Midwestern rivers. Canoeing, kayaking and rafting can be enjoyed on just about any body of water. When it’s too hot for most outdoor activities, head to the river and float around all day.
Having your own equipment, such as a canoe or kayak, is a worthwhile investment if you plan to float often. It usually takes a bit more work, but it’s worth it if paddling becomes a regular hobby for you.
If you are floating downstream without using an outfitter, you must set up a vehicle at your starting point or arrange a shuttle service. Another option is to leave your vehicle downstream and have someone drive you uphill so you can return to your car.
Personal flotation devices, life jackets or floating seat cushions are a must. Accidents happen all the time on rivers. Even the strongest swimmers risk being swept away by a traffic jam. Wearing a life jacket would be preferable, but if you don’t, you should have at least one easily accessible so that it can be grabbed easily when needed.
A good cooler is an essential part of all float trips. A good trick for packing a cooler is to stretch a deflated inner tube around the cooler and then fill it with air. The cooler must be securely fastened in the tube so that it does not fall into the river, and it must be balanced so that it does not tip over. If you are using a cooler with a handle, you can attach a rope from the handle to the tube. That way, if the cooler were to fall, it would stay attached to the tube. Additional essential gear includes a first aid kit and sunscreen.
Here are three of my favorite places to float that offer canoe liveries.
Sugar Creek – Marshall, Indiana
Sugar Creek is in my opinion the most beautiful waterway through Indiana’s wild and scenic landscape. Paddlers flock to this destination every summer for breathtaking scenery. The limestone cliffs along much of the shoreline are stunning. There are covered bridges spanning the creek for you to explore.
There are many canoe rental companies along the creek and many private campgrounds. Two state parks, Turkey Run and Shades, are on Sugar Creek. Turkey Run State Park offers 213 electric campsites. It is also home to the Turkey Run Inn, which offers rooms and cabins. Shades State Park is located just down the road and offers primitive camping.
Current River — Salem, Missouri
Current River and Jacks Fork form the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This national park is very different from what most people think of when considering visiting a government run park. There are no entrance fees. In the middle of nature, there are no camping fees.
We were able to just pull our canoes to the shore where we wanted and set up camp. It’s an incredible feeling of freedom just to be part of the flow of the river. When you feel like taking a break, you stop and do it. There is no designated area. This is public land that belongs to you, me, and all other Americans.
There are outfitters along the river from its headwaters at Montauk State Park all the way to Doniphan. Beautiful little town – Akers, Round Spring, Eminence, Van Buren and more – welcomes floaters all summer long. If you don’t want to camp along the river, private campgrounds, Echo Bluff State Park, and the National Park all offer more modern amenities.
Middle Fork of the Vermillion River — Illinois
The Middle Fork of the Vermillion River is an oasis of beauty in the otherwise bland flatlands of west-central Illinois. Gravel bars, towering cliffs and lush expanses of bright green vegetation line the banks of this protected river.
In 1986, the Middle Fork of the Vermillion was the first river in Illinois to be designated a State Scenic River. Then, in 1989, the river was again recognized for its beauty and value, and was designated a National Wild and Scenic River, making it the first river in Illinois to be included in the National Wild Scenic Rivers. System.
There are over 8,400 acres of public parks and reserves along the river. You rarely see any sort of man-made structure from the water along this special 17-mile stretch of river. Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area, Horseshoe Bottom Nature Preserve, Windfall Prairie Nature Preserve, Middle Fork Woods Nature Preserve, Kennekuk Cove County Park, and Kickapoo State Recreation Area are all public spaces along Middle Fork. These parks offer shore anglers many opportunities to access the river via footpaths.
See you on the trail. …