Ozark National Scenic Riverways was created by an Act of Congress on August 24, 1964 and protects 134 miles of two of Missouri's most treasured spring-fed streams, the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.
Flowing through the southern Missouri counties of Dent, Texas, Shannon, and Carter, the rivers slice through 80,785 acres of the park. In establishing the park, Congress stated the park’s purpose is conserving and interpreting unique scenic and other natural values and objects of historic interest, including preservation of portions of the Current River and the Jacks Fork River in Missouri as free-flowing streams, preservation of springs and caves, management of wildlife, and provisions for use and enjoyment of the outdoor recreation resources.
The Current River
The most spring-fed of all the Ozark rivers, the Current River is one of the most popular float streams in Missouri. Most day floats average no more than 10 miles.
The Jacks Fork River
The smaller Jacks Fork is a tributary of the Current River. The first 27 miles are marked by deep valleys and steep, rocky canyons. Because of the shallow nature of the Jacks Fork, the majority of floats begin near Alley Spring. However, spring rains will occasionally allow floating as far upstream as The Prongs, some of the most beautiful scenery in Missouri.
On The Riverbanks
Although floating tends to be the main recreational focus at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, other activities along the riverbanks offer educational and enrichment opportunities seldom experienced in everyday life. Information centers, exhibits, springs, historic sites, hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and bird watching are just a few of the things to see and experience throughout the park. After undergoing restoration in 2014 that included a new roof, paint and repairs to the foundation, Alley Mill is ready to welcome visitors daily throughout the summer. The one-room schoolhouse and the Alley Mill General Store will be open, as well.Campfire programs may be held most Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer at Alley Spring, Big Spring, Pulltite and Round Spring Campgrounds. Round Spring and the visitor information center there will be open this season and will offer cave tours. Tour schedule will be posted on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/ozar and the park Facebook page. These fun and entertaining ranger programs are enjoyable for the whole family. You don't have to be camping to attend. See the park’s website for a current schedule of activities.
Perhaps the most amazing features found within the confines of Ozark National Scenic Riverways are the size and volume of the springs that feed the cool, clear waters of the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers. The park is home to some of the largest freshwater first magnitude springs (over 64 million gallons of water daily flow) in the country. The two largest and most notable are Big Spring (286 million gallons daily) and Alley Spring (81 million gallons daily).
Operating Hours, Seasons
Ozark National Scenic Riverways is open year around. Numerous visitor information centers are located throughout the park where Park Rangers can provide the visiting public with information about things to do and see in the area. The information center and park headquarters in Van Buren is open year round. Visitor information centers at Alley Mill, Round Spring, and Pulltite are open in the summer.
Most developed areas have restroom facilities which are wheelchair accessible. Accessible camping sites are available at Big Spring, Alley Spring, Round Spring and Pulltite Campgrounds. Accessible trails and picnic sites have been developed at Big Spring and Round Spring.
Camping fees for non-electric sites are $16 per night. Round, Alley and Big Spring Campgrounds have electric sites that are $19. Group campsites sites are $100. Reservations may be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Holders of the America the Beautiful Senior or Access Passes receive half price off on camping. These passes can be issued to citizens age 62 and over (Senior - $10) or citizens of all ages who have a life limiting impairment (Access - Free) at the Van Buren visitor information station.
For more information, contact: 573-323-4236 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/ozar.