Float #45: Gasconade River

3 Aug

Hwy. 17 to Riddle Bridge

Gasconade River
Pulaski County, Missouri
Saturday, July 21
14 miles

This year I wanted to get out and float some rivers that I haven’t floated in a long time, or ever. One of these rivers is the Gasconade. The Gasconade is the longest river entirely contained within the state of Missouri. It twists and turns for 250 miles from the south central area of the state to the Missouri River. It is a relatively slow and lazy river without much gradient, but it has excellent fishing and plenty of cool, clear water. Fun fact; the early French named this river the Gasconade because the Indians who lived along its banks were very boastful of their exploits. Gascon is french for a boaster or braggart.

The section of the Gasconade that we floated is about a half hour west of Rolla. Our friend Richard, who lives in the area, offered to run shuttle for us. Very generous of him to do so, as he had recently had shoulder surgery and was unable to float with us. We met up with him at Riddle bridge, loaded our boats on his truck and drove to the Hwy. 17 bridge. Hwy. 17 crosses the Gasconade at the confluence with Roubidoux Creek. Roubidoux Creek has a lot of springs feeding into it and the water was very, very cold. It looks like a good float for spring when there is more water.

Gasconade River

Roubidoux Creek at Hwy. 17 access

Gasconade River

Hwy. 17 bridge

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

One thing we noticed right away was the amount of algae in this river. There is more algae growing in the Gasconade than I am used to on floating rivers. Perhaps it has to do with all the cattle on the river banks? There were a lot of cattle near or in the river and a lot of old tires partially buried in the banks and river bottom. There is no way to haul out tires with a kayak, or I’m sure DW would have tried. Even with the algae the water is still very clear and cool.

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

This section of the Gasconade reminds me of a slower version of the Meramec. It was an easy float, although we did have to paddle a lot to get downstream. These 14 miles could take forever if you don’t paddle! It seems like a good river to paddle up, since you would go about the same speed either way and there weren’t too many fast spots that would be hard to paddle up. We didn’t see any other boats, just one party barge of rafts and tubes and some locals fishing and hanging out on the banks. We didn’t see much wildlife outside of the normal birds, but I did see a lot of fish. I chased one huge fish with my boat for a little bit. I don’t know what kind it was, but it was almost 4 feet long and spotted. It wasn’t a gar, though I saw plenty of those too.

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

A spring bubbles from the hillside

Gasconade River

Gasconade River

Riddle Bridge

We finished up the float in early evening, loaded our gear and headed for home. There weren’t many landmarks or points of interest on this float, but it was enjoyable and not at all crowded on a hot Saturday. I look forward to doing more floats on this river and its many tributaries in the area.

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Osprey, Ducks, Cows, Big Scary Fish

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