Summer in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains

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Tim Dailey, Mallory Fuller and Rhea Fuller enjoy floating an Ozark river on a beautiful summer day.

Tim Dailey, Mallory Fuller and Rhea Fuller enjoy floating an Ozark river on a beautiful summer day.

Summer. What a wonderful time of year to be outside experiencing the natural resources and countless outdoor recreational opportunities of Missouri. Camping in our state parks, hiking, biking, bird watching and picnicking are just a few pastimes people enjoy during the season. But for me, the greatest outdoors enjoyment of summer is float fishing an Ozark river.

Little matters more to Missourians than our rivers. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were the cornerstones of our state’s settlement and early economy. Today it’s the float streams coursing through the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri drawing the annual attention of hundreds-of-thousands of paddlers and anglers.

The Current, Jacks Fork, Eleven Point, Black, Bourbeuse, Big Piney, Huzzah, Niangua, North Fork, James and Meramec are just a few of the many rivers and creeks flowing through Missouri’s wild and scenic landscape paddlers flock to each summer. Each of these rivers offers breathtaking scenery and sporting pursuits most don’t expect to find in the Midwest. Crystal clear spring fed waters teem with trout, smallmouth bass and goggle-eye. Wild turkeys and white-tailed deer abound along these riverbanks. Bald eagles, black bears, elk, wild horses and river otters all make frequent appearances. In my opinion, the rivers of the Ozarks are some of the most pristine and precious water resources found anywhere in the world.

The Ozark Scenic National Riverways (OSNR) was the first national park in America to protect a river system. The Current River and Jacks Fork River, comprise the 84,000-acre Ozark Scenic National Riverways (OSNR). The treasures of this region should draw people from all across the country, much like the way Yellowstone and the Great Smoky Mountains draw tourists. The Ozarks offer the outdoorsman all they could possibly desire, and are within a day’s drive of most Americans. With the opening of Echo Bluffs State Park on Sinking Creek, there is a magnificent, brand new reason to visit the Ozarks.

The elk are making progress, too. Local communities, like Ellington, Eminence, Van Buren and Winona are proud to have these majestic creatures once again roaming the region. Not only because it makes sense biologically, but also because the elk are a big tourism big draw to these small towns of the Ozarks. And our Ozark forests continue to produce some of the finest hardwood in America.

Missouri Ozark stream fishing is truly world-renowned. Smallmouth bass are one of the hardest fighting fresh water fish you can find, and we have them all over the Ozarks. Fly fishermen can forget about chasing 6-inch rainbows in the West. Chasing smallies on an Ozark river is more exciting and much less crowded. The trout fishing is exceptional, too. Big browns haunt the upper Current River, and both the Eleven Point and North Fork of the White put up big numbers of rainbows.

There are many more reasons to visit the Ozarks in summer. Horseback riding is a fun adventure. There are many stables offering horseback trips and rentals in the Eminence area, which is considered a horseback riding capitol of the Midwest. Hiking the Ozark Trail is another great summer adventure for individuals or groups. Summer simply doesn’t last long enough to do take advantage of all the incredible outdoor opportunities found in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


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