Waimea River – Kauai

Length: 10.5 miles/ 1 day, shorter runs possible
Class: III-IV (IV – V top 3 miles)
Gradient: 290 ft/mile top 3 miles, 95 ft/mile
Permits: Only Required for camping in canyon
Recommended Flows: 200 to 2000 cfs at Waimea, Kauai

Shuttle: 20 minutes/ 9.3 miles + 2.5 mile hike
Hike: 2.5 miles/ 2,240 elevation loss. 1.5 hours ends at Wiliwili Camp site administered by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Map of the trail
Season: Whenever it flows. More common in the Winter and Spring but can flow anytime of year.


The Waimea Canyon State Park is a popular tourist destination for those staying on Kauai. Luckily most people stay at the top of the canyon or take a helicopter tour. Even if the Waimea River isn’t high enough to run, the hike down Kukui Trail is peaceful and picturesque. The hike back up is challenging with minimal shade, high humidity and over 2000 feet of elevation gain in a little over 2 miles.

Don’t confuse this run with the Waimea River on Oahu which is popular with surfers.

Koai’e Stream – Lonomea Camp to Kaluahaulu Camp (after confluence with Waimea River) trail crosses the Waimea River to river right just below the Kaluahaulu Camp. Two more crossing below here.

Kaluahaulu Camp to Wiliwili Camp (intersection of Waimea Canyon trail and Kukui Trail)

Waimea River Flows for 2020

Current Waimea River Flows

Commercial Outfitters

There are no commercial outfitters that run trips on the Waimea River. Those looking to rent kayaks and take a nice paddle to a waterfall will want to check out the Wailua River Sate Park on Kauai.

Video: Packrafting the Waimea River, Kauai

microspikes for added traction on muddy steep trails like this one. When carrying a pack full of gear they make descending more controlled and less dangerous. Microspikes cost a little over $20 and pack easily.

The Descent

The hike into the canyon starts of with open terrain and ends in the forest. Once at the intersection with the Waimea Canyon trail it is possible to hike upstream or launch for this point and head down stream.

Kukui Trailhead

Early Hiking

Steep Section

Intersection Kukui and Waimea Canyon Trails

Waimea Canyon Trail/Road

Waimea River (low water)

Rafting vs kayaking – which is better?

kayak vs rafting

Whitewater boating has it’s differences from other sports such as soccer or beer pong. The rules are not really established and so there are no winners or losers, however, some friendly competition is often there.

You will see it when passing another boat, especially when it is a different kind of a boat. Raft and kayak enthusiasts sometimes give each other that furtive glance. But it is without resentment and all in good spirit of course. The point is to be on the river, however there are some differences and we are going to cover them. But first, what are the similarities?

Both of these are water sports

Which water sport is better Kayaking or rafting

Kayaking is an activity involving using a double-bladed oar for paddling and a small boat also known as a kayak for moving across objects of water. A kayak is a boat similar to a canoe, that sits low in the water. In this boat the paddler is sitting while facing forward with his legs up in front, while using a paddle with blades on both sides.

White water rafting represents a recreational activity done outdoor while using an inflatable raft used to navigate down a river or some other body of water. Most often undergone on whitewater or rough water varying in different degrees. It is a fun environment and full of challenges.

Here are some technical differences between kayaking and rafting


  • A single person manages it
  • Kayak is smaller in size, so you are able to reach out to both of the sides with ease


  • Raft is bigger and enables gathering a crowd as large as 10 people
  • It is possible for 9 people to row together (4 on each side and 1 at the back)
  • There is a person at the front to push it downwards to avoid flipping it over
  • It is not required to have 10 or more people, you only really need 2 people, however the bigger the crowd the bigger the party

Which one is more exciting / better?

Which is better activity rafting or kayaking

As always, it depends. Whether you like to partake in activities alone or with a group of friends. If you want to connect with nature by yourself you should try kayaking. On the other hand, if you want to experience an adventure with your friends or family and have a memory which you will remember for a long time, rafting should be your choice!

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White water rafting brings your crew challenges which you need to overcome together, it is a great activity to bind a group of people. Hence, why it is a fantastic choice for team building. After conquering the river, your office will be able to overcome everyday business challenges with great ease.

Regarding safety, rafting is much safer. If you are alone in a kayak and you happen to run into some trouble you will be all alone and at great risk of something bad happening to you. There are more people on a raft, also there is plenty of gear. If you are concerned about safety you can try rafting in the time of the year when the river is more calm. On our tours on Tara river, we have IRF licensed guides who will make sure nothing bad happens to you.

Also if you want to introduce your children to water sports, rafting on calmer tides is what you should pick. It is an exciting experience which they will remember for a long time. We organize tours during the whole year, and the water varies in difficulty throughout the year. So if you are more interested in fast, extreme conditions rafting, we can also satisfy your needs.

All in all. Both activities have their ups and downs. Which one will you chose depends on your preferences, one thing is certain, you will have an experience worth remembering.

Kayaking the Current River from Akers Ferry to Pulltite

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Kayaking adventure on the Current River from Akers Ferry to Pulltite in Missouri. Plan a float trip with tips for Ozark National Scenic Riverways!

kayaking on the Current River in Missouri

Out of all the rivers in the Ozarks, the Current River is the most spring-fed of all of them. This makes it a great river for floating in Missouri, even during the hottest months of summer.

The Upper Current River in my home state of Missouri, the Show Me State, is a popular river for kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and tubing. This 54-mile stretch from Montauk State Park to its junction with the Jacks Fork River east of Eminence, Missouri, is actually one of the more popular float trips in Missouri, meaning it can get especially crowded on weekends.

You can float anywhere from a few hours to a few days on the Current River. Parts of the river move fast, and other parts move slow, requiring a bit more paddling than the Jacks Fork River.

river kayaking on the Current River on Ozarks National Scenic Riverways in Missouri

We planned yet another kayaking trip with my family and set out for a full day of fun, floating on Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri.


There are several popular float trips you can take on the Current River, with several spots to launch your boat. This trip we decided to float from Akers Ferry to Pulltite Campground, so we launched at Akers Ferry.

In order to launch your kayak at Akers Ferry, you’ll need to follow the signs to the launch spot, which is down a gravel road from the general store.

launching kayaks on the banks of the Current River at Akers Ferry

There’s a spot on the riverbank to unload your kayaks. Then you need to drive just a little bit further to a small parking lot where you can leave your vehicle for pickup later.

If you’re launching on the weekend, you’ll likely be unloading with other groups of people, maybe even a bus full of floaters. The launch spot isn’t hard to miss.


The Current River is very popular, so it can get really crowded on summer weekends, especially when it’s really hot. Not only that, but people like to float and drink at the same time.

You throw drinking and inexperience into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for “fun.”

Most other nature lovers and those who crave solitude will tell you if you’re floating on the weekend, to launch either early in the morning or mid-afternoon. They’ll also tell you weekdays are the most peaceful time to float.

peaceful float trip in Missouri on the Current River from Akers to Pulltite

We launched mid-morning on a Saturday in mid-September; and although it was nearly fall, there were still quite a few people floating that day, including a large group of college students.

Akers Ferry to Pulltite on the Current River is about a 5 hour float, so early in the morning is probably best, unless you’re floating when the days are longer in summer.


When you get in the river at Akers Ferry, you may launch with a small group of people. You’ll paddle past the ferry and the campground, but soon you’ll be enjoying the wild expanse of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Akers Ferry on the Current River, MO

Being spring-fed, the river is very cold, and the water is crystal clear, though it does get darker in some of the deeper spots.

Floatable year-round, there are only a few shallow spots where you may have to give yourself a boost to keep going; but most of the time you’ll have no trouble at all. I don’t think I had to get out of my kayak once on this trip, besides during our little incident when I got out to help.

There are places with ripples and small sets of rapids. The Current River is rated a Class I-II whitewater river. Most of the areas with ripples are pretty easy to paddle through, though we did have trouble in one spot, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

kayaking through ripples on the Current River

Just like kayaking the Jacks Fork River, there are places where trees stick out over the water or up from under the water. You’ll sometimes come upon sunken logs or boulders submerged in the water.

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While I almost felt the Jacks Fork River was more beautiful, scenery on the Current River has a beauty all its own, and it’s still a beautiful river to float in Missouri.

kayakers kayaking past bluffs on the Current River from Akers Ferry to Pulltite Campground

There aren’t quite as many bluffs as on the Jacks Fork, though there are still a few bluffs and quite a few caves, Cave Spring being one of them.

There really isn’t any development along the river either, though you will see a privately owned cabin along the way. You’ll also likely see camping enthusiasts enjoying dispersed camping along the banks of the river.

Missouri Canoe shares a Current River map, also giving a really helpful mile-by-mile description of the Current River and sights to watch for, places like Akers Ferry, Lewis Hollow, Cave Spring, and Rock House Cave.


Cave Spring is a stop you’ll definitely want to make while floating the Current River.

kayaking at Cave Spring on the Current River

A little over 3 miles from Lewis Hollow, the spring will be on your left. You can’t miss it with the crowd of people who will likely already be there.

the view from inside Cave Spring on the Current River in Missouri

The cave is large enough to paddle your kayak into the entrance, but it doesn’t go back very far.

According to Missouri Canoe, the water at the back of the cave “is 120 feet deep and comes from Devil’s Well via nearby Wallace Well Cave.”


The water is clear and cold, shallow in spots, and deeper in others with a beautiful deep blue color.

You can see to the bottom in many parts of the river. I watched schools of minnows swimming along through the water and actually wished we could do a little fishing.

The current actually felt a bit stronger to me in some areas than Jacks Fork… Then in other areas, I felt like I had to paddle more because it slowed way down.

kayaking into Cave Spring on the Current River

Fed by springs, the water is really cold, so if you flip your kayak, be prepared for a cool down. Normally, you shouldn’t have a problem, but this brings me to my next point.


Closer to Pulltite, there’s a fork in the river where it can get a little sketchy. Where the fork converges on the other end, there’s a tree with a tree root sticking out in the water.

As I rounded the corner and started down a small set of ripples, the current getting stronger, I could see there was a canoe stuck on the tree up ahead.

Jaden was in front of me in his kayak, but he was way ahead of me. He tried so hard to miss them, but ended up crashing into their canoe, which eventually set off a small pileup of people… Then I saw him flip and get sucked under their canoe.

I couldn’t see him come up on the other side, so of course, I started to freak out just a bit, while at the same time trying to stay calm. A very nice man, an experienced kayaker (let’s just call him an angel) stopped to help, which was no easy feat in the current.

In fact, quite a few people stopped to help. Jaden had come up on the other side and was clinging to the tree root; but he wasn’t the only one who had flipped, and stuff was floating down the river.

boy kayaking the Current River from Akers Ferry to Pulltite Campground

It was a scary moment, and Jaden was white as a sheet by the time he finally made it to shore. But all’s well that ends well, and I’m thankful for the ones who stopped to help.

I’m also thankful he didn’t panic. In fact, besides the people in the canoe who were pretty much yelling and screaming, everyone remained pretty calm, for the most part.


Whether you’re a fisherman, an avid birdwatcher, or a nature lover, there are all sorts of animals, birds, and fish to watch for as you float this beautiful river in the Missouri Ozarks.

  • Bring your fishing pole (and license). The Current River is chock full of smallmouth bass. You may also be able to catch catfish, walleye, hog suckers, etc.
  • Mussels and crayfish
  • We did not see any snakes on this kayaking trip, but don’t you worry, there are 25 species of snakes, the most popular of which is the copperhead. While there aren’t quite as many trees to duck under on the Current, you still need to watch out because there may just be a snake sunning itself on a low lying branch. Eek! Also, watch where you put your hands if you float up close to the banks of the river… Again, snakes love to sun themselves on outcropping rocks and boulders.
  • Watch for amphibians like bullfrogs, grotto salamander, and the very rare Ozark Hellbender.
  • With 198 species of birds, the Current River is the perfect place to get out your binoculars and watch for new birds to add to your bird watching list.
  • You may see whitetailed deer and wild turkey.
  • We saw what looked like an otter; you may also see mink, beaver, and muskrat.
  • There are also a wide variety of insects and arachnids. You may even encounter a tarantula or scorpion.
  • And be on the lookout for bears, mountain lions, and cougars.

The thing to remember with animals is that if you respect their space, they will pretty much leave you alone. Remember: YOU are the one invading THEIR space. Respect that and you’ll be fine.

kayaking under trees on the beautiful Current River in Missouri


Pulltite isn’t hard to miss. It’s a larger area with a huge gravel bar where you can pull up your kayaks and load them up.

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We recommend parking one vehicle at Akers Ferry and one at Pulltite Campground. It’s about a 30 minute drive from one place to the other.

There is at least one shuttle service that will shuttle your vehicle for you, but it costs around $50, so if you have the time, it’s probably worth planning your trip so you can shuttle yourselves back and forth more efficiently and affordably.


Yes, there are several outfitters that will set you up with what you need to float the river, including shuttle service. There are also several places to stay, including campgrounds and cabins.

kayaking over ripples on the Current River in Ozark National Scenic Riverways

You can usually rent canoes, kayaks, rafts, etc.

Here is a listing of places that offer rentals:

And if you don’t want to rent a kayak, there’s always the option to buy your own kayak, especially if you see yourself kayaking more than just one time. We do enough kayaking, especially on Beaver Lake, that it made sense for us to buy our own.


Especially if you’re kayaking with kids, you’ll want to be sure to pack a few things for your paddle from Akers Ferry to Pulltite in Missouri.

kayaking with a toddler on the Current River on Ozark National Scenic Riverways

    – On a sunny day and even an overcast day, you’ll burn very quickly. My friend, Lynsey from Moscato Mom, has shared her experience with basal cell carcinoma and why it’s so important to guard yourself against skin cancer. – Everyone needs a life jacket, but kids 7 and under have to wear one; it’s the law!
    and food and/or Hats
    – to pump water out if needed. or a hard case for your phone – to keep it out of the water. for fishing from kayaks

Also, wear water shoes or sandals meant for being in the water, something comfortable for walking on rocks and pebbles. Dan loves his Body Glove water shoes, and I love my Teva sandals.


Be sure to check water levels and the weather forecast before floating or river kayaking. You want to make sure it’s safe and suitable for kayaking, especially if the area is experiencing drought or on the other hand, you’re floating after a heavy rainfall.

The National Park Service provides a ton of helpful information, including river levels, places to explore, and a whole lot more.

teen boy kayaking on the clear water of the Current River, one of the best float trips in Missouri

Watch out for other people in canoes, kayaks, rafts, and tubes. Make sure to give yourself and the people around you enough room to maneuver your kayaks, especially through areas where the current gets stronger and the water’s swift.

Especially on hot summer weekends, there are a lot of inexperienced floaters; it’s a great river to float for novice floaters. But when you couple inexperience with alcohol, it can be a little dicey.

Learn how to best use your paddle to maneuver through areas of swifter water; the water can turn you around before you even know what’s happening. And you can get into tricky areas with crowds.

In most areas, you’ll be just fine; but learning how to paddle yourself through these places and around other people can save you from experiencing any injuries or problems along the way.

You will see trees, sunken logs, and boulders sticking up out of the water, and there may be trees sticking out over the water. Watch out for these things, warn others in your group, and do your best to paddle around them.

With 25 species of snakes in the park, you’re very likely to see a few, especially on low lying branches of trees sticking out over the water or on the banks of the river. When paddling close to shore, do your best to keep yourself away from rocks and branches sticking out; snakes love to sun themselves, and we’ve actually had a few close calls.


Glass containers are and styrofoam coolers are prohibited on rivers, trails, in caves, and within 50 feet of the river.

Speaking of caves, all caves in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways are closed, except Round Spring. Do not go into the caves. It’s also prohibited to wade or swim in any of the springs.

Per a Park Service representative, however, it is permissible to float into Cave Spring and then exit back out, since it is not a through cave.

kayaking past bluffs on the Current River in Missouri

You’ll likely see people swinging on rope swings… Don’t do it. It’s illegal to do so.

Check with the park for more laws and policies.


Finally, leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. The more you practice this, the safer and more enjoyable kayaking will be for everyone, including paddlers who come after you.

If you’re considering kayaking in Missouri, the Current River from Akers to Pulltite is a wonderful place to explore. It’s a great place, even for kayaking beginners to get your bearings, with the opportunity to learn how to maneuver your kayak through obstacles here and there.

And it’s an opportunity to create some beautiful memories with your family… Memories you’ll likely cherish for many years to come.

Missouri float trips on the Current River, from Akers Ferry to Pulltite Campground

float trips in Missouri on the Current River, Akers to Pulltite

river kayaking on the Current River in Missouri from Akers Ferry to Pulltite on Ozark National Scenic Riverways

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Source https://www.brexpeditions.com/waimea-river/

Source https://www.tarasportrafting.com/blog/rafting-vs-kayaking-which-better

Source https://adventuresofmel.com/kayaking-current-river-akers-ferry-to-pulltite/

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