**RIVERS NOTE** March, April, May and the first half of June "usually" bring some persistent heavy Spring rains to the area. With this in mind, the rivers can rise VERY QUICKLY in a short matter of time. I speak from experience, awaking one morning on the Current to the river being all the way up to my tent and flowing like a muddy torrent. So please be aware of the weather. After a heavy rain, the rivers will be pretty muddy for a short period, and as they drop back to normal levels they will remain murky. This cloudy type of water could take a few days or more to subside as long as no more rain falls in the area upstream from ones location. Personally, I prefer to float mid-June through mid-September (mid-September through mid-November for the fall foliage) due to this reason. When I go to the river, I prefer to see it "crystal clear", not "murky" and definitely not "muddy". To each their own, but this is just my 2 cents worth. Feel free to call any of the outfitters on either river to find out the exact water conditions of the area that you are going to visit before you leave so as not to disappoint yourself with less than desirable river conditions. One thing thing the graphs below cannot do is give you a visual.
If the river is at flood level (see notes below), then it is likely to be closed to boating. If it is at "Flood Level" or is rising toward it, dangerous conditions either exist or are likely. !!! Lest we forget - see here !!!
**WHEN DOES THE UPPER CURRENT RIVER GET CLOSED? Per Ranger Skyler Bockman in May of 2021, the decision to close the upper Current is actually made by the local NPS law enforcement officer. As for the Akers gauge the river is closed at flood stage which is at a stage of 4 feet, not 2 feet. The ranger said that the river would never be closed because of a stage of 2' on the Akers gauge. Decisions to close certain stretches of the river might also be made on the basis of visual references at Cedar Grove and at Round Spring. At Cedar Grove there is a metal railing along the downstream side of the low water bridge. It sticks up only about 4 or 5 inches above the bridge surface. If the water rises high enough over the bridge to touch that railing, the stretch of river below Cedar Grove will be closed. At Round Spring there used to be a USGS gauge but it is long broken and was never replaced. But there is a visual marker that the local NPS law enforcement officer has made on one of the bridge supports that he uses to decide whether that stretch of the river should be closed. The Ranger also said that decisions to close stretches of the river are not taken lightly and are always made with some degree of reluctance due to the fact that many people's livelihood depend on visitors paddling the rivers.
**UPPER CURRENT RIVER ADMIN NOTE** I have floated from Baptist to Akers (the swiftest part of the Current River) with the Akers gauge reading about 1.32 ft. before. I did drag in spots mainly between Baptist and Cedar Grove, but only had to get out a few times due to the fact that there was definitely no paddling through the shallowness. Many of the drag spots we paddled right on through and there were plenty of deep holes along the entire stretch. We had a fully loaded canoe (3 people and a cooler) and would do it all over again if if given the chance at that gauge depth, since the benefit of the upper stretch of the river (Baptist to Cedar Grove) is that most people steer away from the low water, which sets the scene for some privacy on the river. Since I don't mind some dragging and walking some, a 1.00 ft. gauge reading would probably be my personal cut-off for the Baptist to Cedar Grove stretch with an empty canoe and a 1.20 ft. gauge reading for a fully loaded canoe. Below that gauge depth, I'd opt for floating below Cedar Grove. Welch Spring (just above Akers) replenishes the rivers floatability tremendously.
14JUL20 UPDATE: On a trip from Baptist to Two Rivers, the Baptist to Cedar Grove section had the Akers gauge reading 1.28. Maybe walked 6-7 times with multiple fully loaded with gear kayaks. No problem. It was a great section just like the admin of Missouri Scenic Rivers said. Easy to get out and basically lead your boat around debris and low water. There were no logs or trees to go over or under (this year). We loved it. In fact I was asked to make it an annual trip. -- Roberto (Jalapeno) Jupina
28AUG20 UPDATE: "Flood level on the upper Current at Akers is at the 4 foot stage, as indicated by the red line on the USGS gauge webpage. That corresponds to a flow of not quite 3000 cfs, which is a good bit of water. A stage of 2 feet corresponds to a flow of about 900 cfs which is certainly higher than usual for summer levels, but not I would not consider to be very high. I put on the Current River in mid June on a day when the Akers gauge was recording 750 cfs and the river was not "high" at all and the water was clear. I would have welcomed another 100-200 cfs in fact. As for when the NPS chooses to close the river, they will sometimes do so well before flood stage in anticipation of imminent heavy rainfall or during a time when the gauge shows a rapidly rising discharge. And as for the water being muddy, this will often occur on a stream that has just seen heavy rainfall over its headwaters even before the river has risen a great deal at some downstream point. When the discharge is on a downward trend, the water might be crystal clear at the same level at which it was muddy on the up-rise. And there is a big difference between average (mean) and median discharge level. Those sharp up and down peaks in river level have a much greater influence on "average" levels than they do median levels. If you added the average daily flow for every day of a year and divided by 365 I would not be surprised to find an average corresponding to a stage of 2 feet. The levels in winter and spring would obviously be much higher than in summer and the median level would be significantly less". -- Peter Blanc
**FINAL NOTE** Usually more than 2+ ft. above desired average leads to an undesirable float due to heavy rains which in turn leaves the river muddy and high. Flash floods are a serious issue on these rivers, so please pay attention to the weather, especially during the spring. The exception would be the upper Jacks Fork above Bay Creek, where high water is desired by some, especially kayakers, to float this usually low stretch. These average figures are personal guestimates from first hand knowledge. Any figure updates will be taken into consideration.