Fall is the best time for a float trip in the Missouri Ozarks. Summer crowds are gone, and the sparkling streams reflect the autumn colors.

“It’s also the prettiest time of the year for wildflowers – you have all the yellow and red, even some purple blooms,” said Gene Maggard, who owns Akers Ferry Canoe Rental on the Current River.

He said fall colors start showing in early October.

“You’ll have your peak anywhere from the 14th through the 21st,” he said. “You’ve got the rivers to yourself; the hustle and bustle of summer is over. It’s a good time of year for solitude.”

Here are five fabulous floats, all of which will take four or five hours, depending on the time spent fishing and picnicking on gravel bars.

Most of these stretches are spring fed, which means there’s enough water for year-round floating. All are perfect for family outings.

• The Current River from Cedargrove to Akers. The Current begins in the springs at Montauk State Park, and picks up steam with the input at Welch Spring, which averages some 175 million gallons of cold, clear water a day.

Be sure to take time and visit the stone ruins of the hospital built above the spring cave.

• The Jacks Fork from Alley Spring to Eminence. The Current and the Jacks Fork make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the first national park created to protect America’s pristine rivers.

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