Courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism
By David Cawthon
Springtime rapids lure racers to the St. Francis River.
“The first time you go over a six-foot waterfall in a kayak is a terrifying and absolutely enjoyable moment all at once,” says Garrett Bentley, a six-year competitor in the Missouri Whitewater Championships.
During the event, racers of all abilities compete in three events: slalom, downriver, and boatercross, where multiple kayakers race neck-and-neck. The statewide Missouri Whitewater Association organizes the races, which began forty-nine years ago, and it’s no secret why racers love the St. Francis, a river with a pedigree for prime kayaking. It was one of four final US qualifying locations for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
On March 19 and 20, visit the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, located about a half-mile west of the intersection of Routes K and 72.
Visit missouriwhitewater.org for a schedule of events and for more information.