Posts Tagged ‘raft’

The Meramec River

When I was a kid, my grandpa used to play his guitar and sing me an old Mills Brother’s tune called, “Up the Lazy River.” Last weekend, during a float trip on the Meramec River, the song was stuck in my head the entire time. I suggest you click this link:http://tinyurl.com/lazyriver and listen to it, while you read the rest of my blog.

The song describes floating on the lazy river past kind oak trees, listening to robins’ songs, with nothing but blue skies and the noonday sunshine overhead.  I can’t explain a day on the Meramec better than that.

Meramec State Park is located west of St. Louis near Sullivan, Missouri, and is about a 3-hour drive from Quincy.  The park itself is breathtaking. hiking and biking trails, limestone bluffs, forested hills with secluded cabins, places to picnic, and many other outdoor opportunities await visitors to the park. The stream-fed Meramec River crosses through the center of nearly 7,000-acres of state land, and there are ample opportunities to enjoy the water, including fishing, canoeing, swimming and raft floating trips.

Our five-mile long float trip was in celebration of a friend’s 30th Birthday (Happy Birthday Mike!), and we couldn’t have picked a better afternoon to be on the water.  The temperatures outside were near the century mark, and the river was the perfect way to cool off.  We met the group in the parking lot of the State Park offices, got our life jackets from the shed, applied sunscreen liberally, and then loaded a repurposed school bus for the quick drive to the beginning of the float.  Our group was large, with 16 people, but since we had reserved ahead of time, the park had us ready to go when we arrived.  We had two heavy-duty eight-man rafts with paddles already sitting on the launch ramp when we pulled up.  All that was left to do was hop in the boat, shove off the launch, and enjoy our day in the sunshine.

The five-mile float took about four hours, but that included a few times where we paddled to the riverbank to stop and swim and throw the football around for a while. The river, while higher than it normally is this time of year, was fairly slow moving, and families with children of all ages seemed to be out enjoying the day.  There were a few spots where we needed to navigate around a downed tree or two, but overall, this is a slow and safe river for beginners.

Prices for float trips on the Meramec vary by day of the week and what type of raft or canoe you are going to rent.  It’s always a good idea to call ahead and reserve your raft, especially on the weekends. Rates and schedules can be found at http://www.meramecpark.com or by calling 888-MERAMEC (637-2632).

A special note: Many people associate float trips and other river activities with alcohol, while it’s true that some members of our group brought along coolers and had some beers, personally, my husband and I only drank water and Gatorade on this trip, and we had a wonderful time. Remember that boating and alcohol, especially on extremely hot days, can be a very dangerous combination.  If you’re going to drink, be responsible and make sure you’re still taking in plenty of water.  According to the American Boating Association, people who have had as few as two beers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident while on the water than those who do not.  My philosophy is there’s plenty of time to imbibe when you’re on land, so why not just enjoy being out on the river without the booze?

Whatever you decide, I hope you have fun and be safe whenever you “Get Out” this summer!

For more on boating safety: http://www.americanboating.org/safety.asp

Original Post June 10, 2011

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