All right, so the Eleven Point River isn't all that close to St. Louis. But we feel the benefits of this Ozark waterway warrant the four-hour drive. Beginning near the southern Missouri hamlet of Thomasville (about 80 miles west of Poplar Bluff off Highway 160) and meandering southeastward, ultimately into Arkansas, this spring-fed river is one of the most pristine in the state. Spots along the typical float include detours to the source of the springs, providing those brave enough to swim in these eddies with nipple-hardening, flesh-numbing temperatures and gorgeous aqua waters. The river has plenty of slow-moving sections as well, perfect for putting aside the paddles and stretching out in the sun. Best yet: Even on the most insane floating weekends, the Eleven Point remains relatively crowd-free. That's what we call a hefty return on your four-hour-drive investment.
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