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The First Signs of Spring

March 18, 2010
The start of the course

St. Francis River, Millstream Gardens Conservation Area

Sunday is the beginning of Spring. I can’t say it feels like it yet, but this weekend, eight miles outside of Fredericktown, Missouri’s 43rd annual Whitewater Championships are going to be held. Events start at 9:30 a.m. March 20-21; the championships are run on the St. Francis River.

I can’t kayak. I tried once, first in a pool and then on a “Class I.” I liked the pool. In the pool, you don’t run into large rocks or trees or hang upside down underwater.

Racers making their way down the course.

Racers making their way down the course.

The racers at the championships will be running on Class II-III whitewater. It is pretty amazing to see racers maneuver the poles and somehow avoid large rocks.  Millstream Gardens Conservation Area is about 20 miles away from Elephant Rocks State Park. Did I mention the rocks are elephant large? Spring is the best time to whitewater kayak or canoe on the St. Francis. As the rains lessen, the river isn’t floatable. For more information, or if you want to try out whitewater yourself, go to


Racer entering the most difficult part of the course.

The area is beautiful in the spring. Dogwoods and redbuds in bloom everywhere and there are tons of trails to hike. Tiemann Shut-ins, Caster River Shut-ins, Johnson Shuts-ins, Elephant Rocks, Taum Sauk Mountian are just a few places to enjoy nature in the area.

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