From Rubber Rafts to Thrilling Rapids: The Deep History of River Floats and Whitewater Rafting in America

In the peaceful years following World War II, an emerging recreational activity gained popularity across the heartland of America. Initially a leisure outdoor activity on gently flowing rivers, float trips gradually evolved into an exhilarating adventure we now know as whitewater rafting.

Today’s blog delves into the deep history of river floats and whitewater rafting in America. We’ll explore its origins, the evolution of river rafts, iconic destinations, and the thrill-seekers who embraced this exciting pastime.

The Birth of River Floats

After World War II ended, outdoor enthusiasts obtained surplus rubber rafts from the army. The Elk River in Missouri is a popular hotspot for river float trips today.

Lazy Days Resort and Campground is a popular destination in today’s modern world of river float trips. It offers rivergoers a chance to relax and enjoy the serene river currents.

The Evolution of River Rafts

As river floats gained momentum, the demand for sturdier and more versatile rafts grew. That led to the development of specialized river rafts designed to navigate through various water conditions.

These rafts are typically made of durable, high-quality synthetic rubber and equipped with features, like handles and ropes for easy portage. The introduction of inflatable rafts revolutionized the experience, making it more accessible to a wider audience.

The Rise of Whitewater Rafting

As river floats became popular, some adventurous souls sought a more adrenaline-fueled experience. This desire led to the emergence of whitewater rafting, where enthusiasts tackled the thrilling river rapids.

With its challenging rapids, the Salmon River Canyon in Idaho became a mecca for whitewater rafting in 1940s America. By the 1960s, commercial whitewater rafting was a full-scale recreational outdoor activity offered to the masses.

Iconic Destinations for River Adventures

America is blessed with abundant breathtaking rivers, streams, and creeks, offering endless river floats and whitewater rafting opportunities. From the Snake River in Wyoming to Hells Canyon in Oregon, there are destinations to suit every adventurer and thrill-seeker skill level. 

Whether you seek the calm, gentle flowing currents found on the Elk River in Missouri or the wild river rides of the Colorado River, whitewater rafting is no longer a sport just for athletes. It’s an adventure waiting for you to embark on.

Whitewater Rafting Trips to River Float Trips

Whitewater rafting trips provide an adrenaline rush like no other. With experienced guides and state-of-the-art equipment, participants navigate the raging river currents, experiencing the power and beauty of nature up close. Whether a half-day excursion or a multi-day expedition, whitewater rafting offers unforgettable memories.

On the flip side are river float trips, which offer a serene, low-key float drifting along easy-flowing river currents with little paddling required. Unlike adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting, river float trips use the same inflatable river raft used to run rapids in whitewater rafting to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, providing a truly relaxing experience.

Where to Start Your River Float Trip?

The history of river floats and whitewater rafting in America is a testament to human ingenuity and the desire for adventure. From humble beginnings with surplus army rafts, river floats evolved into the thrilling world of whitewater rafting.

Today, countless rivers and streams across America beckon paddlers and thrill-seekers to experience the rush of conquering the rapids. So, grab a paddle, embrace the river’s flow, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the rich history of river floats and whitewater rafting in America.

To begin learning all you need to know about river rafting, book a stay and your river float at Lazy Days Resort in McDonald County, near the charming town of Noel, Missouri.

Remember, as outdoor enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to protect these natural wonders. Always follow the ‘leave no trace‘ principle and respect the local wildlife and ecosystems.

Four Snack Ideas for Float Trips Down Missouri’s Elk River

There’s never a dull moment spent on a 7.5-mile float trip down Elk River toward Pineville, Missouri. Locals and visitors enjoy this seasonal activity of time spent with family and friends gently floating down the river.

After all, you can burn up to 350 calories an hour depending on your body weight and the river’s class rating or difficulty. Alright, so you might not burn 350 calories floating down Elk River.

That raises a good point: Elk River is rated below a class-I river, meaning it has few rapids and fewer river obstacles to negotiate. That makes it an ideal family-friendly float river.

It also helps to understand that Elk River’s average depth measures 3.3 feet, which places it into a low flow rate category that is calm and manageable for novice river-goers seeking to stay cool this summer. 

Although, no float trip is complete without a dry sack to tow along down the river. But what is so special about the dry pack? Aside from keeping everything dry, it’s an excellent way to tote along four snacks with a purpose.

  1. Sweet and Sour
  2. Protein Boosters
  3. Drinks for Hydration
  4. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable

All these snack ideas provide sustainable energy and hydration to keep your energy up, which helps you enjoy every minute on the river.

Sweet and Sour Snacks

There is no better combination for managing your electrolytes when it comes to sweet and sour snacks. The heat index in southwest Missouri can be particularly brutal in July, so keeping your electrolytes stable with a balanced blend of sugars and salts will help keep you having fun and staying calm and more relaxed while in the sun.

A fantastic sweet and sour snack that is pre-packaged and re-sealable is trail mix, a must-have on Elk River. Trail mixes are available premade or ho; here’s an easy recipe we found online

To keep it simple, you can grab some Ziploc snack bags and toss in your favorite salted nut or seed, throw in a preferred dried fruit, like raisins, a few M&M’s, and BAM; you’ve got a personalized trail mix for your float trip.

Protein Snack Boosts

Protein is an excellent choice for float trips. It can help sustain your energy levels all day long. For example, one cup of nuts has 27 grams of protein, which equals 813 calories.

If you’re watching your calorie intake, you can always reach for a Quest White Chocolate Raspberry, which contains 190 calories and only 1 gram of sugar.

Hydrating Snacks

Drinking river water is not advisable, so you should be packing plenty of hydrating snacks. It may sound strange to think of water as a snack, but water intake speeds up your metabolism, making you feel full.

It plays a significant role in staying well-hydrated while outdoors. After all, your body will sweat more than three liters of water an hour just sitting in the sun. That works out to six pounds of water weight loss in a single hour.

While you might not think of hydration as a snack, it’s essential to being out in the sun all day. A good rule of thumb is having 64 ounces of water for every person in a floating device. In addition, some manufacturers make water bladders that hold up to 100 fluid ounces of water.

Pack Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Snacks

Other excellent snack choices are fresh fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, oranges, or carrots. All these choices can play a part in replenishing your electrolytes too.

Dehydrated fruits are also an excellent option since these snacks are less like to bruise or get mashed while on the river.

Top Snack Picks 

For us at Lazy Days Resort & Campground, our top picks for a well-packed dry sack for a float down Elk River is a snack-size bag of shelled pistachios, a Cliff bar, chili cover dried mangos, 32 ounces of bottled water, and one packet of strawberry kiwi flavored Propel.

Booking Your Elk River Float

If you’re planning a float trip down Elk River, we at Lazy Days Resort & Campground would love to have you stay with us. We offer all our guests access to set off on an Elk River float trip right from our property. 

We have some of the valley’s premier Elk River RVing sites at the Lazy Days Resort. We are only a one-minute drive southwest of Interstate 49. Take exit 5 at mile marker 6. The resort location is between Noel and Pineville, Missouri.

Book your stay today and your float trip too. Here’s what some of our recent guests had to say about their stays at Lazy Days Resort & Campground!

Affordable Elk River Float Trips!

Summer is fast approaching, and Elk River floating season is already in full swing. If you find your mind turning to thoughts of the river as the days get longer and warmer but are concerned about the cost of a trip, we’re the perfect solution.

Affordable Pineville MO River Floats

At Lazy Days Campground, we offer the most affordable Elk River you’ll find anywhere in Pineville or Noel, Missouri. Our rates start at only $30 for a one-person kayak and only get more affordable as you add more people to your float trip! Plus, we offer floating on both Elk River and Big Sugar Creek!

Getting to Lazy Days Campground

One of the best things about a float trip at Lazy Days Campground is how easy it is to get here. We’re the closest outfitter on Elk River to I-49. In fact, it only takes one minute to drive from the exit off I-49 to our campground. We’re just far enough to get away from the highway noise but not far enough away to make us impractical to get to.

We’re also just an easy 15-minute drive from Bentonville, Arkansas. So, for those of you in NWA, we’re an easy and affordable day trip! Bring the whole family!

Kayaks, Canoes, Rafts & More

We provide everything you need for your day on Elk River. To start with, you can choose a:

  • One-person kayak
  • Two-person kayak
  • Two-person canoe
  • Three-person canoe
  • Six-person raft
  • Eight-person raft

Beyond that, we provide everything else you will need, including life vests and paddles. Transportation back to Lazy Days Campground is also included!

Note: Please be aware that personal floating equipment is not allowed on Lazy Days Campground property.

Reserve Your Elk River Float Today!

We sincerely hope that you will join us for a float on the beautiful Elk River soon! Reserve your Lazy Days Campground float today!

5 Fun Things To Do While In Noel, Missouri

If you’ve never been to the Ozark Mountains, you’re probably wondering what all there is to see and do in the area. There is one place that needs to be at the top of your must-see just for all the fun and excitement around the town of Noel, Missouri.

Aside from the town’s name, Noel, you might be thinking of “visions of sugar plum fairies dancing” through your head. But, in truth, Noel nestles along the valley floor in the heart of the Elk River watershed. The basin covers over 1,032 square miles, and with that much room to move, there are plenty of places to stay, sites to see, and memories to be made.

Here are our five top spots to see for fun in Noel.

1. Lazy Days Campground

If you’re looking for a perfect place to make memories with family and friends, Lazy Days Campground is the ideal spot. They offer all the amenities and conveniences for your reservation.

Whether car camping, staying in your RV or needing a cabin, Lazy Days are the perfect getaway for you, your family, and friends. We have conveniently located a half-mile southwest of I-49 on Missouri State Highway H., less than 10 minutes away from the champing town of Noel, Missouri.

They have 12 cabins, one of which is a treehouse-style cabin that sleeps 12. They offer full-service hookups for your RVers too. And if you’re looking to rough it in a tent, they provide numerous tent sites right along Elk River for a peaceful night’s sleep. To check out their availability, contact them today.

2. River Rafting and Float Trips

When planning your visit to Noel, Missouri, there is one summer activity people throughout Missouri and visitors from across the country come to do: river rafting and float trips. 

That’s what makes staying at Lazy Days Resort & Campground another convenient option. Elk River flows past Lazy Days Resort, giving guests access to one of Noel’s most popular tourist attractions. You can even schedule to launch your rafting trip, river float, or boat tours right onsite at Lazy Days.
They complete the scheduling and supply the raft, kayak, or canoe with a single paddle or a double-bladed paddle for you and your guests. If you’re looking for a change of scene, you can also book a float trip down another body of water, Big Sugar Creek. They will drop you and your fellow floaters off and pick you all up at the end of your watersports day trip.

3. Local Shopping in Noel, Missouri

If floating down the river isn’t your thing, or you’re all water-logged out, head to The Antique Flea in Noel, Missouri. The treasures there abound, and you can also stop in for a bite at the attached cafe.

This tiny gem of an antique store is family-owned and operated and reportedly was still selling sweet tea for only $0.50 with free refills until 2014. It is a beloved town favorite by Noel locals. If that isn’t enough, go back on another day to peruse all the local businesses, restaurants, and shops in Noel.

4. Tall Pine Distillery

Another popular local restaurant with nonstop local fare is the Tall Pine Distillery. You can stop in to taste some of the finest Ozark whiskey, brandy, and moonshine the Distillery has to offer.

As a “grain to glass” distillery, you won’t be disappointed having tasted their unique signature flavors and any seasonal tastes. So whether you’re looking for a perfectly aged bourbon, a taste of banana foster, or prefer the fruit notes of huckleberry, Tall Pine Distillery will deliver a remarkable finish to your time visiting the Noel area.

5. Bluff Dwellers Cave

For you history buffs out there, Bluff Dwellers Cave is just a short 13-minute drive from Lazy Days Resort. But, even if you’re a novice rock hound, these caves are a remarkable sight.

The family-operated tours take visitors through a maze of caverns and caves. That shines a light on the darkness inside Mother Nature’s unique ability to carve out unique cave formations, from a 75-foot rimstone dam to a 10-ton balanced rock.

They just started their Spring and Summer hours: opening from 10:00 A. M. to 6:00 P. M. each day. Those times will continue through the end of October.

Planning A Trip to Noel, Missouri

If you are just getting started on planning your trip to Noel, Missouri, keep in mind that this is no trip to Yellowstone National Park. This place is unique, not because of some world-famous white water rafting trip like you find in the Grand Canyon National Park, but because of the easy, laid-back days. 

You get the kind of days when you book a stay at the Lazy Days Resort and Campground. Then, you get all the free time to float down Elk River with a single-blade paddle in any boat you like.

Lazy Days Campground is Only 14 Minutes from Bentonville, Arkansas!

Located just a quarter of a mile off of I-49, Lazy Day Campground offers the easiest access you will find to Elk River. In fact, we’re only a brief, 14-minute drive away from Bentonville, Arkansas. We’re also just a few feet from Pineville, Missouri!

Lowest Price Floats on Elk River

If you’re looking for affordable full-service access to Elk River, we have you covered! We offer floats on Elk River, Big Sugar Creek, and Little Sugar Creek! And beyond that, we supply you with EVERYTHING you will need for your day on the water!

Our Prices

Our floats start at $30 a day for one person and a kayak, and the average price per person only gets better from there!

Floating Options

We have what you need to enjoy Elk river! Choose from…

  • Kayaks
  • Two-person kayaks
  • Rafts
  • Two-person canoes
  • Three-person canoes

*All paddles and vests are included!

Reserve a float now!

Pineville | Elk River Stay & Float

At Lazy Days Campground, we also have many stays from which to choose. Whether you want a beautiful, rustic, or family-sized cabin or prefer to pitch a tent down by the river, we have something for you! Additionally, we also offer RV sites with full hookups! But as we move into the warmer days of spring, be sure to book your stay and float early before we’re all booked up for the season!

Find your Pineville, Missouri stay!