Ozark National Scenic Riverways River Levels (Current River & Jacks Fork)
If you are looking for the Eleven Point River levels, then click here.
**RIVERS NOTE** March, April, May and the first half of June "usually" bring some persistant heavy Spring rains to the area. With this in mind, the rivers can rise VERY QUICKLY in a short matter of time. I speak from experience, awaking one morning on the Current to the river being all the way up to my tent and flowing like a muddy torrent. So please be aware of the weather. After a heavy rain, the rivers will be pretty muddy for a short period, and as they drop back to normal levels they will remain murky. This cloudy type of water could take a few days or more to subside as long as no more rain falls in the area upstream from ones location. Personally, I prefer to float mid-June through mid-September (mid-September through mid-November for the fall foliage) due to this reason. When I go to the river, I prefer to see it "crystal clear", not "murky" and definitly not "muddy". To each their own, but this is just my 2 cents worth. Feel free to call any of the outfitters on either river to find out the exact water conditons of the area that you are going to visit before you leave so as not to dissapoint yourself with less than desireable river conditions. One thing thing the graphs below cannot do is give you a visual.
If the river is at flood level (see notes below), then it is likley to be closed to boating. If it is at "Flood Level" or is rising toward it, dangerous conditions either exist or are likely.
Current River River Levels
Call 573-323-4236, ext. #3 for latest river and weather conditions!
139.0 miles long (in Missouri). The most spring fed of all the Ozark rivers, the Current may be floated at almost any time of the year, particularly below Welch Spring. Due to the increase in size of the river and the frequency of motor boats below Big Spring, most canoe trips are made on the sections above Big Spring. This is mainly a class I river, with occasional class II rapids in the springtime. On the upper Current, Montauk to Akers has the largest gradient drop at 8.7 ft. per mile.
**Average = ~1.5', below that you "may" drag in spots, especially above Welch Spring**
NOTE: Flood level = 4.00 ft.
If you want to see what a 2.58' gauge at Akers looks like, then Click Here!
So, if the gauge is around that number for gauge height floating is not recommended. You want the gauge to be below 2' to be floatable. I am pretty sure they close the river when it exceeds 2' on the gauge.
**UPPER CURRENT RIVER ADMIN NOTE** I have floated from Baptist to Akers (the swiftest part of the Current River) with the Akers gauge reading about 1.32 ft. before. I did drag in spots mainly between Baptist and Cedar Grove, but only had to get out a few times due to the fact that there was definitely no paddling through the shallowness. Many of the drag spots we paddled right on through and there were plenty of deep holes along the entire stretch. We had a fully loaded canoe (3 people and a cooler) and would do it all over again if if given the chance at that gauge depth, since the benefit of the upper stretch of the river (Baptist to Cedar Grove) is that most people steer away from the low water, which sets the scene for some privacy on the river. Since I don't mind some dragging and walking some, a 1.00 ft. gauge reading would probably be my personal cut-off for the Baptist to Cedar Grove stretch with an empty canoe and a 1.20 ft. gauge reading for a fully loaded canoe. Below that gauge depth, I'd opt for floating below Cedar Grove. Welch Spring (just above Akers) replenishes the rivers floatability tremendously.
14JUL20 UPDATE: On a trip from Baptist to Two Rivers, the Baptist to Cedar Grove section had the Akers gauge reading 1.28. Maybe walked 6-7 times with multiple fully loaded with gear kayaks. No problem. It was a great section just like the admin of Missouri Scenic Rivers said. Easy to get out and basically lead your boat around debris and low water. There were no logs or trees to go over or under (this year). We loved it. In fact I was asked to make it an annual trip. -- Roberto (Jalapeno) Jupina
28AUG20 UPDATE: "Flood level on the upper Current at Akers is at the 4 foot stage, as indicated by the red line on the USGS gauge webpage. That corresponds to a flow of not quite 3000 cfs, which is a good bit of water. A stage of 2 feet corresponds to a flow of about 900 cfs which is certainly higher than usual for summer levels, but not I would not consider to be very high. I put on the Current River in mid June on a day when the Akers gauge was recording 750 cfs and the river was not "high" at all and the water was clear. I would have welcomed another 100-200 cfs in fact. As for when the NPS chooses to close the river, they will sometimes do so well before flood stage in anticipation of imminent heavy rainfall or during a time when the gauge shows a rapidly rising discharge. And as for the water being muddy, this will often occur on a stream that has just seen heavy rainfall over its headwaters even before the river has risen a great deal at some downstream point. When the discharge is on a downward trend, the water might be crystal clear at the same level at which it was muddy on the uprise. And there is a big difference between average (mean) and median discharge level. Those sharp up and down peaks in river level have a much greater influence on "average" levels than they do median levels. If you added the average daily flow for every day of a year and divided by 365 I would not be surprised to find an average corresponding to a stage of 2 feet. The levels in winter and spring would obviously be much higher than in summer and the median level would be significantly less". -- Peter Blanc
Call 573-323-4236, ext. #3 for latest river and weather conditions!
44.6 miles long. This tributary of the Current River is one of the wildest and most scenic o fhte Missouri Ozark streams. The first 25 miles from the Prongs to Bay Creek - its deep valley is nearly a canyon and in the springtime provides beautiful class II water with an average gradient drop of 8.3 ft. per mile for this stretch. From Alley Spring to Two Rivers is a beautiful class I river and is floatable year round.
**Average = 1.0', below 2.2' you "will" drag your empty canoe in spots, especially above Bay Creek**
NOTE: Flood level = 3.65 ft.
and flood stage = 6 ft.
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Ted Haviland - 17MAY18~): "Buck Hollow gauge is good between 2.5 and 3.5 feet. Below 2.5 you're gonna drag some. Above 3.5 gets a bit fast, especially on a rise...4.0 is considered flood stage, and Parks will close the river."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Ted Haviland - 25MAR18~): "People have been asking about river conditions on the upper Jacks fork river, and what levels are best for floating. I have been saying nothing below 3.0-3.5 feet between Prongs and Buck Hollow....I stand by that. though it is "possible" at lower readings...just not comfortable. I had the opportunity, Friday, to go from Blue Springs to Rymers Landing...6.6 miles. The Buck river gauge was at 2.47 feet, and flow was 48.9. There were 4 craft...a 10' kayak, a 12' kayak,a 14' solo canoe, and a 15' tandem canoe with two people and a big yaller dog. We found that the majority of the river was a slow, easy float, but there are few channels in the shallow areas, which makes "picking a line" difficult, especially if you are relatively inexperienced. While the 10' kayak had almost no problem, the 12' kayak & solo canoe were grounding on occasion, if only for short distances. I had to walk once, the solo two or three times. The couple and pup had more problems, grounding often and walking 5-6 times, and for longer distances.
As for obstacles, there were a few bad areas where the channel would take a craft into overhanging trees...very little room to skirt between bank and limbs. If you aren't REAL sure, walk. At one point, about 3/4 mile above Rymers there is a large jam of root wads that is a real hazard. The river is narrow, winding in sharp S curves between the root wads, and the current is swift. The current at the top will force you into a large wad, and possibly pin/flip your craft....be CAREFUL! Below that the river splits...wide and easy to the right and a narrow channel to the left with a gravel ridge at the top. The "easy" right side is completely blocked by a large downed tree, while the left channel has a tree overhanging and partially blocking the channel. This run passes Ebb & Flow Spring, so almost to Rymers. I guess that's it. My personal opinion is that anything below 2.8-2.9 should be run by experienced floaters, but we all know about "opinions".....have fun out there....stay safe!"
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Mark~): "On a trip from Buck Hollow to Alley Spring at 2.25'. we drug in many places with no camping gear in our boats on the upper Jacks Fork. Only if guage reads 2.20' or higher do I recommend."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Andy~): "Personal minimum for Mountain View section, in which the gauge is located at Buck Hollow, is about 1.5 if you're carrying any camping gear at all. We have run it at .7 with empty canoes, but that is very low. ---- 2 feet to 3 feet is really good."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Al~): "Bay Creek to Alley will be work at 47 cfs and dropping with a loaded canoe. If you have an aluminum canoe it will be a LOT of work. Plastic and fiberglass slides over the gravel a little better. That stretch has a whole lot of very shallow, gravelly riffles, and even some slow water areas that are extremely wide and shallow. Upstream the riffles are generally narrower and more rocky...harder on the bottoms of canoes, but probably no more difficult to do. The canoe rentals stop renting canoes for the upper river when the water flow drops to the level it is now (47 cfs and/or 1.22 ft.). That's what is meant by closing the river...they make it sound like the Park Service closes the river so that people won't be pestering them to rent canoes for the upper river."
**Average = ~2.0', below that you "may" drag your canoe in spots, especially if fully loaded.**
Flood level = 6.40 ft.
Flood stage = 12ft., this is the height at which the campground at Alley Spring floods.
Record high level at this point = 19.82 ft on 11/15/1993
Record low level at this point = 0.7 ft on 09/16/1956
**FINAL NOTE** Usually more than 2+ ft. above desired average leads to an undesirable float due to heavy rains which inturn leaves the river muddy and high. Flash floods are a serious issue on these rivers, so please pay attention to the weather, especially during the spring. The exception would be the upper Jacks Fork above Bay Creek, where high water is desired by some, especially kayakers, to float this usually low stretch. These average figures are personal guestimates from first hand knowledge. Any figure updates will be taken into consideration.
"Glass containers are illegal on the river and within 50ft of the bank in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Citations have been issued."