Rising in the Mark Twain National Forest near Willow Springs, Missouri, the Eleven Point River is a moderate whitewater paradise that derives about 70 percent of its flow from some of the wildest springs in the "Show me" state. The river generally flows northwest to southeast above Thomasville in Howell County, then turns to a more north to south direction through Oregon County on its way to Arkansas and the confluence of the Spring River. It is a year-round stream though there are some areas that will require walking and/or portaging, particularly during drought periods. The Eleven Point River is designated as a "Wild and Scenic River", protecting it from development that infringes upon the natural character and beauty of the river.
The section above Thomasville is very narrow and shallow, though it is navigable. The water flows clear and unpolluted from more than 30 major springs that feed it constantly producing year-round paddling conditions. Farm houses and pasture lands sit next to the river, but the line of forest trees along the riverbanks hides them from sight, and paddlers often feel a great solitude when paddling the Eleven Point River. Sand and gravel bars are common on the lower section, where some of them are soft and unsettled, occasionally collapsing and blocking the flow, requiring some portaging. This is especially true after floods weaken the bars and allow them to shift under their own weight. The rapids are Class I-II, and intermediate whitewater paddling skills are advised, though not absolutely necessary if you are very careful and scout the river where you see potential trouble.
The most commonly paddled section in Missouri (there is also a very popular section in Arkansas) is from Thomasville down to Missouri State Highway UU, a distance of about 48 miles. Topography includes Walnut, Sweet Gum, Black Gum, Bois d'Arc, Sycamore, Oak, Willow, River Birch and many other species of trees, an abundance of wildflowers to color the landscape, numerous caves just begging to be explored, Great Blue Herons and a plethora of animal life along a river that formed amid 475 million year old rock formations of sandstone and dolomite vertical bluffs everywhere you look. Fishing is excellent, with smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass, channel and flathead catfish, longear sunfish and many other species feasting on the crayfish, leeches, salamanders, hellgrammites, mayfly and stonefly nymphs, chubs, darters, worms, mussels and insects common to the area.
The Eleven Point River is not for everybody, but for those wanting a semi-wilderness trip down a gorgeous river offering moderate whitewater and scenic beauty that is hard to match, this is the place to paddle in Missouri. MDC has created excellent access points along the river giving paddlers many choices of distance and areas in which to paddle. Nearby rivers include the Current, Jacks Fork, White, Black and several other great paddling streams.
Far south central Missouri, in Oregon County, just above the Missouri-Arkansas border, running through the Mark Twain National Forest.
St. Louis 184 miles; Kansas City 300 miles; Springfield 130 miles; Dallas 500 miles; Austin 700 miles; San Antonio 780 miles; Houston 750 miles; Oklahoma City 385 miles; Little Rock 175 miles; Albuquerque 1,056 miles; Phoenix 1,500 miles; Denver 1,010 miles; Salt Lake City 1,544 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination put-in at the river and route taken.)
Excellent, clear and unpolluted as it flows from natural springs. There is almost always adequate water for paddle trips, and even during droughts some sections are navigable due to the volume of water pumped into the river from over 30 major springs. The river can quickly flash flood during periods of excessive rain within the drainage basin.
The Eleven Point River is a year-round stream. It will be warm during summer months and quite cold during winter months, but with appropriate gear, clothing and paddling skills the river can be enjoyed nearly all the time. Summer weekends will bring out power boaters, so look and listen.
Between Thomasville and the Missouri-Arkansas State Line the rapids are in the Class I-II range and will pose no significant problems for experienced whitewater paddlers, though they can be tricky for novice paddlers or flatwater paddlers with insufficient whitewater experience. The chutes at Mary Decker Shoal between Greer Access and Turner Mill about 20.1 miles below Thomasville and Halls Bay near Riverton at about 34 miles are some Class I drops with Class II consequences that can be difficult if not negotiated properly. Mary Decker Shoals can be run on either side, but the river right line is usually best and safest for most boaters, especially at lower flow levels. Halls Bay Rapid can be run on river right in high ater conditions, or on river left most of the time, but the left channel has a swift current into an "S" curve with a magnet that attracts canoes located at a tree along the left bank that can capsize, pin and/or wrap a canoe. The run-out is generally shallow, though a fast current does make recovery somewhat difficult in high flow conditions. In low water conditions an island may separate the two channels. On the lower river powered jon boats with up to 25 hp motors can become a hazard if not avoided - these become more numerous on summer weekends when fishermen come to play.
Thomasville at SH 99 Bridge at 0.0 miles (this section down to SH 19 not recommended in low-water); Cane Bluff Access and picnic area at 9.3 miles; SH 19 bridge at 16.6 miles (campsites and put-in with trail to Greer Spring about 1 mile up the hill); USFS boat ramp in Greer Springs Campground on river right at about 16.7 miles; Turner's Mill North (river left) and South (river right) at about 21.5 miles; Stinking Pond float camp on river left at 22.3 miles; Horseshoe Bend float camp on river left at 26.5 miles; Barn Hollow float camp on river left at 27.0 miles; White Creek float camp on river left at 28.5 miles; Greenbriar float camp on river left at 31.0 miles; Riverton / SH 160 bridge on east side at 35.7 miles; Morgan Creek float camp at 44.0 miles; SH 142 Bridge on river left at about 44.3 miles; Myrtle Access on river right at 48.0 miles; Missouri-Arkansas state line at 49.0 miles (NO ACCESS.)
Denny Hollow float camp on river left at 6.5 miles; SH 19 bridge at 16.6 miles offers campsites without charge; Greer Springs Campground (USFS) on river right at about 16.7 miles offers tent camping ($10 per campsite per night) with picnic tables, fire pits, toilet, boat ramp and parking; Turner's Mill South (river right) at 21.5 miles has campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Stinking Pond float camp on river left at 22.0 miles offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Horseshoe Bend float camp on river left at 26.5 miles offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Barn Hollow float camp on river left at 27.0 miles offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; White Creek float camp on river left at 28.5 miles offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Greenbriar float camp on river left at 31.0 miles offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Boze Mill Spring on river left at 33.4 miles has campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; Morgan Creek Float camp at 44.0 miles on river right offers campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilet facilities; There are several other campgrounds, both public and private, available. Contact local sources for further information.
There are several commercial outfitters offering rentals, shuttles and river information along or near the Eleven Point River.
The Eleven Point River offers just about anything a paddler could want - moderate whitewater rapids, flatwater pools, caves to explore, rich, abundant flora and fauna, clean, cool, unpolluted water, adequate access and camping areas for just about any trip length, canoe liveries and shuttle services to get you to and from the river and plenty of places to raise the value of Kodak stock. There are 30 or more natural springs, including some of the largest in Missouri, that feed the river. The uppermost part of this section may run low during droughts or prolonged dry spells, such as summer months, but the river generally has adequate water for good paddle trips all along its path from Mark Twain National Forest down to the Missouri-Arkansas border, and beyond. The US Forest Service has done an excellent job of providing river access and campsites all along the river, aand there are abundant places to stop and play. A camera is mandatory equipment for Eleven Point River trips, but carry it in a drybag.
It is possible to start your trip well above Thomasville and go all the way to the confluence of the Spring River near Old Davidsonville State Park and Black Rock in Arkansas provided the water is high enough, though the river is generally very narrow and shallow above Thomasville and for a short distance below there. Some of the rapids can challenge an inexperienced paddler, so some whitewater experience in Class I-II water is advisable. Regardless of how long or short your trip, the Eleven Point River is sure to satisfy your hunger for a taste of Mother Nature at her finest. If there is one negative it is the occasional motorboat activity that may be encountered.