The Gasconade, probably named for French settlers from the province of Gascony in southwestern France, is reputed to be one of the most crooked rivers in the world. Entirely within Missouri, the river winds nearly 300 miles from its source near Hartville to the Missouri River, which is an airline distance of about 120 miles. In an area near Waynesville, you can float for 15 miles and be only two miles overland from your put-in. Although it has less gradient than some Ozark rivers, the Gasconade has some surprisingly fast sections, yet is still a good, safe family float stream. Because the river flows through the Mark Twain National Forest, write to the National Park Service Houston Ranger District for maps showing where camping is available.
Dru Pippin describes the Gasconade well in The Rivers of Missouri when he says, “…steep bluffs, gorgeous cuts, hairpin turns, and lazy eddies; hardwoods, softwoods and dogwoods, hidden logs, protruding boulders that weathering has tumbled from adjacent cliffs, wildflowers and shrubs, birds and bees, four-legged creatures quenching their thirst at my water’s edge, while listless white clouds float above as though convoying my trip.”
Sections above Competition are suitable only for spring or other high-water periods, unless you want to walk the riffles to fish the inviting pools.
Map courtesy of http://missouricanoe.org