**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 !!!
ADMIN NOTE: If you want to see what a 1.8 on the gauge looks like on the far upper Jacks Fork, then watch this video right here. This river documents a float when the gauge is at 1.8.
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Ted Haviland - 31MAR21~): In regards to the Buck Hollow gauge: "Anything over 2.0 now is reasonable for a light boat...2.5 with gear. You will drag in a few spots, but if you can "read the river", you will be fine. FYI...My comments in the "first hand" posts below are outdated, as the river has changed a lot since then.
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Ted Haviland - 17MAY18~): "Buck Hollow gauge is good between 2.5 and 3.5 feet. Below 2.5 you're gonna drag some. Above 3.5 gets a bit fast, especially on a rise...4.0 is considered flood stage, and Parks will close the river."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Ted Haviland - 25MAR18~): "People have been asking about river conditions on the upper Jacks fork river, and what levels are best for floating. I have been saying nothing below 3.0-3.5 feet between Prongs and Buck Hollow....I stand by that. though it is "possible" at lower readings...just not comfortable. I had the opportunity, Friday, to go from Blue Springs to Rymers Landing...6.6 miles. The Buck river gauge was at 2.47 feet, and flow was 48.9. There were 4 craft...a 10' kayak, a 12' kayak,a 14' solo canoe, and a 15' tandem canoe with two people and a big yaller dog. We found that the majority of the river was a slow, easy float, but there are few channels in the shallow areas, which makes "picking a line" difficult, especially if you are relatively inexperienced. While the 10' kayak had almost no problem, the 12' kayak & solo canoe were grounding on occasion, if only for short distances. I had to walk once, the solo two or three times. The couple and pup had more problems, grounding often and walking 5-6 times, and for longer distances. As for obstacles, there were a few bad areas where the channel would take a craft into overhanging trees...very little room to skirt between bank and limbs. If you aren't REAL sure, walk. At one point, about 3/4 mile above Rymers there is a large jam of root wads that is a real hazard. The river is narrow, winding in sharp S curves between the root wads, and the current is swift. The current at the top will force you into a large wad, and possibly pin/flip your craft....be CAREFUL! Below that the river splits...wide and easy to the right and a narrow channel to the left with a gravel ridge at the top. The "easy" right side is completely blocked by a large downed tree, while the left channel has a tree overhanging and partially blocking the channel. This run passes Ebb & Flow Spring, so almost to Rymers. I guess that's it. My personal opinion is that anything below 2.8-2.9 should be run by experienced floaters, but we all know about "opinions".....have fun out there....stay safe!"
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Mark~): "On a trip from Buck Hollow to Alley Spring at 2.25'. we drug in many places with no camping gear in our boats on the upper Jacks Fork. Only if guage reads 2.20' or higher do I recommend."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Andy~): "Personal minimum for Mountain View section, in which the gauge is located at Buck Hollow, is about 1.5 if you're carrying any camping gear at all. We have run it at .7 with empty canoes, but that is very low. ---- 2 feet to 3 feet is really good."
1st Hand Knowledge Tip (~By Al~): "Bay Creek to Alley will be work at 47 cfs and dropping with a loaded canoe. If you have an aluminum canoe it will be a LOT of work. Plastic and fiberglass slides over the gravel a little better. That stretch has a whole lot of very shallow, gravelly riffles, and even some slow water areas that are extremely wide and shallow. Upstream the riffles are generally narrower and more rocky...harder on the bottoms of canoes, but probably no more difficult to do. The canoe rentals stop renting canoes for the upper river when the water flow drops to the level it is now (47 cfs and/or 1.22 ft.). That's what is meant by closing the river...they make it sound like the Park Service closes the river so that people won't be pestering them to rent canoes for the upper river."
- Jacks Fork levels at Eminence (LINK) - Lower Jacks Fork around mile marker 37 Also, Jacks Fork levels at Eminence (LINK) **Average = ~2.0', below that you "may" drag your canoe in spots, especially if fully loaded.** NOTE: Flood level = 6.40 ft. Flood stage = 12ft., this is the height at which the campground at Alley Spring floods. Record high level at this point = 19.82 ft on 11/15/1993 Record low level at this point = 0.7 ft on 09/16/1956
**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.