5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Missouri

By Samantha Fidler-Newby

5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Missouri


If you’re looking to hit the waters on a kayak with little experience, Missouri has plenty of calmer rivers and lakes suitable for novices. A rating system, created by the American Whitewater Organization, ranks waterways from 1-5 depending on the severity of the water’s current. The lower the number, the calmer the currents. In the state of Missouri, there are several places with easy waters. It’s also recommended to head out with a guide for your first time out, or take a safety course before your excursion. Here are five great places for kayakers to dip their paddle in the water for the first time! 

1. Big Creek and St. Francis River at Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park is home to the Big Creek and St. Francis River. Each has its own beautiful scenery as you float down. With their Class 1 ranking, these two make a great place to try out new kayaking skills. Along with this, there are plenty of other great activities and amenities at the park so you can make a whole weekend out of it. 

2. Meramec River at Meramec State Park

Located just an hour outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Meramec State Park is home to the Meramec River. With a Class 1 ranking, the river offers first-time kayakers the chance to see the wonders of the state’s wild outdoors. Whether you have all day or all weekend, the campgrounds have you covered with cabins or places to camp under the stars.

The rope swing was still my favorite part 😏

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3. Black River

The Black River gives visitors the opportunity to access to an amazing trip down a Class 1-ranked river in the Southeast Missouri Ozarks. Take your kayak and enjoy the blue skies and the sounds of nature, while floating your cares away. If you are looking for a place to rest after a great day of kayaking, the Johnson’s Shut-In State Park offers campers the chance to rough it or try a cabin for the night.

float trip was fun 🛶

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4. Current River at Current River State Park

The Current River, located inside the Current River State Park, will give kayakers the chance to see the ruggedness of the Ozark landscape while honing their paddling technique. The lush trees and clear waters will give you the sense of being far away from civilization, while being close to St. Louis, Missouri. Since the park does not offer campgrounds, there are lodges, bed and breakfast locations, and motels just 16 miles away in Eminence, Missouri.

About to go to my Trig class while its storming outside but all I really wanna be doing is paddling🚣🏽

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5. Roaring River

Roaring River is in the southwest Ozark hills, where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the majestic scenery as they take the river through the park. The best stretch of the river is from the park to Highway 86 and is only 5.8 miles. This distance is great for a day trip for a new kayaker wanting to try out their new skills on a Class 1 ranked river. Once done, you can enjoy a stay at one of the rustic cabins or modern motel rooms located in the park. 

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