SWIMMING HOLES / RIVER ACCESSES
Access to several rivers are within a day’s travel of West Plains!
On hot summer days locals and visitors alike flock to the miles and miles of crystal-clear, spring-fed rivers of the Ozarks. Nothing is better than a dip or a float to get away from it all. Multiple outfitters are close by to rent canoes or kayaks and also offer shuttle service.
Summer in the Ozarks also means bugs and snakes. Water shoes are a must, as well as a cooler with water and snacks. Lawn chairs and a canopy for shade can make an afternoon at a swimming hole more enjoyable.
Accesses are listed below with mileage from initial access. Usually where there’s river access, there’s also a good place to swim. If floating, check local conditions and visit
Big Piney River
The Big Piney River is the largest tributary of the Gasconade River and is rated one of the best fishing streams. Numerous good-sized and beautiful springs feed the river so that it is floatable throughout the summer. (85.7 total miles of river, accesses listed for Texas County only.
- 0.0 Baptist Camp Access. Low-water bridge. No ramp.
- 3.5 Tone Hogan Ford on county road. Access.
- 8.7 Dog’s Bluff Access on left, on Hwy 17.
- 12.4 Brushy Creek on right.
- 13.2 Blankenship Cave in end of bluff on right is merely a rock shelter. This is the Horseshoe Bend area.
- 14.6 Mineral Springs Access on right, off Hwy 63 at Houston. Mineral Spring 0.5 mile up branch.
- 14.8 Mineral Springs Ford. Access in dry weather.
- 15.3 Cathcart Hollow on right.
- 16.9 Burton Branch on left.
- 18.7 Bell Bluff on left.
- 19.3 Sandy Shoals Ford. Sand Shoals Road connects Hwy. E on the east to Hwy AA on the west.
- 21.5 Arthur Creek on right.
- 24.8 Steam Mill Hollow Creek on left.
- 25.8 Boiling Spring Access on right. Spring is at river level on left and has a flow of about 10 million gallons a day. Private campground. A good road crosses the river here on a concrete lowwater “bridge.” This is a local swimming hole. River quite slow from here to Hwy. 32.
- 27.7 Narrow Gap Bluff on left.
- 29.0 Burnett Spring on left.
- 29.8 Boone Creek on right.
- 31.8 Mason Bridge Access on right on Mason Bridge Road. Gravel ramp.
- 34.9 Falling Springs up right bank.
- 36.1 Hazelton Spring, off river to left, is not open to public. Site of old grist mill. Private access on right.
- 38.8 Paddy Creek on left. U.S. Forest Service campground one mile up creek.
- 39.8 Forest Service Slabtown access and camp.
- 40.8 Slabtown Spring branch enters on right but is posted.
- 44.7 Blooming Rose Camp.
Bryant Creek is a relatively wild stream and is highly fishable.
- 0.0 Vera Cruz Access on Hwy. AB. Moderately difficult access for canoes/kayaks.
- 2.5 Hwy. 14. Access.
- 4.0 Rippee Conservation Area on left.
- 6.3 Monastery Bridge, off Hwy. OO.
- 11.6 Bertha Ford low-water bridge access, on County Road N-345.
- 11.9 Fox Creek on left.
- 14.4 Spring Creek on right. Three miles up the creek, there is a small community known as Rockbridge which has a spring, fish hatchery, mill and store.
- 16.3 Hwy. 95 low-water bridge and Bell School. Access.
- 17.5 Brush Creek on left. A fair road on the left bank parallels the creek for about 1.3 miles below here.
- 24.0 Private campground on right.
- 25.9 Hwy. 181 low-water bridge at Aid-Hodgson Mill. Sycamore Access on right below bridge. Gravel ramp. The spring, which furnished water power for the mill, has an average daily flow of 24 million gallons and has been ranked as 15th in size in the state. The eight-mile section of the creek above here is excellent fly-fishing water.
- 29.4 North side of The Narrows. It is two miles around Muleshoe Bend from this point, but only 0.2 mile as the crow flies. The next bend in the river is wider and is known as Horseshoe Bend.
- 32.3 Brixey Spring on left. The spring is often obscured by willows, but its branch is easily seen where it enters the creek.
- 33.3 Warren Bridge low-water access. Road connects Hwys. FF and H. Excellent swimming hole below the bridge.
- 37.5 Caney Creek on right.
- 40.0 Florence C. Cook Access on right, on County Road 308, off Hwy. 160. Dirt ramp.
- 42.6 Junction with North Fork.
The headwaters of the Current River are nearly 900 feet (270 m) above sea level, while the mouth of the river lies around 280 feet (85 m) above sea level. The basin drains a rural area that is dominated by karst topography, underlain by limestone bedrock with a small area of igneous rock southeast of Eminence, Missouri.
- 0.0 Baptist Camp Access on county road off Hwy. YY.