Happy Floaters
Happy floaters on last summer's guided float trip from Current River State Park to Round Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. 
Courtesy photo.

One of the best deals for your summer enjoyment is the series of free classes on river safely and paddling basics being offered on the Current River every weekend in July.

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) and Current River State Park are joining forces to offer free paddling clinics July 14-15, July 21-22 and July 28-29.

Each clinic will follow the same schedule. Dry land basic sessions will be offered at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Round Spring amphitheater. Paddle stroke instruction will begin at noon Sunday on the lower lake at Current River State Park. Participants will then have the option to continue instruction on a guided float trip on the Current River on Sunday afternoon.

During the three-part clinic, topics to be covered include canoe and kayak equipment, rescue techniques, basic paddle strokes and maneuvers, and river safety.

The interpretive float trip with an instructor will be about four miles, from Current River State Park to Round Spring. Significant natural and cultural points of interest will be pointed out during the trip, including identification of trees, plants and wildlife. Just downstream from the put-in at the park, there is a spring and old home site on river left, which provides an opportunity to learn about Ozark heritage. Further downstream, the flotilla will stop at Merritt Rock on river right, for a short presentation about caves in the Riverways. The float group also will stop at Sinking Creek, which enters the Current River on river left one mile before the take-out at Round Spring.

Dave Tobey, National Park Service ranger for the Round Spring section of the ONSR, is the organizer of the clinics, with the help of David Savage of Current River State Park and Connie Weber of Echo Bluff State Park. Instructors for the clinics are certified by the American Canoe Association.

Kayaks, paddles and personal flotation devices will be supplied by Current River State Park. The clinics are free of charge to participate, but each session is limited to twelve participants so registration is required.

To register, call the Round Spring Visitor Center at 573-323-8093 or sign up in person at the Round Spring Visitor Center, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

This program is an excellent example of partnership between the National Park Service and Missouri State Parks.

For more information about the Riverways and upcoming programs, visit www.nps.gov/ozar. For more information about Current River and Echo Bluff state parks, visit www.mostateparks.com.