The Ultimate Wildlife Adventure: Paddle Boarding Through Missouri's Natural Splendor

Missouri, often dubbed the "Show-Me State," offers a breathtaking array of natural wonders for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. For those seeking an exhilarating experience that combines tranquility and adventure, paddle boarding in Missouri's picturesque water bodies is an unbeatable choice. From serene lakes to winding rivers, the state boasts an abundance of opportunities to witness its diverse wildlife up close and personal. Here's a curated list of 20 captivating locations for an unforgettable paddle board wildlife expedition, complete with vivid descriptions that transport you to each unique locale as we explore the best places to view wildlife from a sup in Missouri.

paddle board on a lake

1. Table Rock Lake.

Nestled amidst the rolling Ozark Mountains, Table Rock Lake is a paradise for paddle boarders and nature enthusiasts. Glide along the clear turquoise waters while marveling at the lush forests lining the shore. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and bald eagles soaring above, especially during the fall months when foliage paints the landscape with vibrant hues.

2. Current River.

Flowing gently through the Ozarks, the Current River offers an enchanting experience. Crystal-clear waters reveal underwater life, and as you paddle, you might spot elusive river otters and playful beavers. Springtime presents a special spectacle as redbud trees burst into bloom along the banks.

3. Mark Twain Lake.

Immerse yourself in the charm of Mark Twain's inspiration as you paddle the serene waters of Mark Twain Lake. Explore coves and inlets where great blue herons wade gracefully, and in the distance, white-tailed deer emerge from the woodlands. Summer mornings are ideal for spotting young animals venturing out with their mothers.

4. Lake of the Ozarks.

A boater's haven, Lake of the Ozarks offers a unique paddle board perspective. As you glide along the shoreline, red-tailed hawks circle overhead while raccoons and squirrels playfully forage for food. Fall transforms the scene into a mosaic of red, orange, and gold, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

5. Meramec River.

Venture down the Meramec River and marvel at its limestone bluffs that rise majestically from the water. Keep an eye out for deer, foxes, and even the elusive bobcat on the riverbanks. During twilight, as the sun dips below the horizon, bats emerge from their daytime roosts to begin their nocturnal hunt.

6. Bull Shoals Lake.

Bordering the Missouri-Arkansas state line, Bull Shoals Lake is a haven for aquatic life. Paddle through the clear waters to spot bass, crappie, and bluegill swimming beneath your board. In the evening, as you drift along, you might glimpse the mesmerizing dance of fireflies along the shoreline.

7. Big Piney River.

Experience the untamed beauty of the Big Piney River as it winds through steep bluffs and dense forests. Keep an ear out for the calls of barred owls in the twilight hours, and if you're lucky, you might even spot a timid river otter slipping into the water.

8. Pomme de Terre Lake.

Paddle the calm waters of Pomme de Terre Lake, surrounded by rolling hills and abundant wildlife. Watch as great egrets wade in the shallows, and if you're patient, you might catch sight of a wary deer taking a sip from the water's edge.

9. Jack's Fork River.

Afloat on Jack's Fork River, you'll encounter a captivating tapestry of nature. The river's clear waters reveal the underwater world as you navigate through shoals. Keep your eyes peeled for river mussels, freshwater turtles, and the occasional glimpse of a mink darting through the underbrush.

10. Clearwater Lake.

Nestled within the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest, Clearwater Lake is a hidden gem. Paddle along the tranquil shoreline and witness the grace of ospreys diving for fish. Autumn transforms the forest into a riot of colors, offering a stunning backdrop for your paddle board adventure.

11. Eleven Point River.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the Eleven Point River's emerald waters and abundant wildlife. As you paddle, you might see playful river otters sliding into the water and white-tailed deer discreetly observing from the safety of the trees.

12. Thomas Hill Reservoir.

Thomas Hill Reservoir's still waters provide a serene setting for a leisurely paddle. Glide along the shoreline, where you might spot a variety of waterfowl, including graceful great blue herons and determined little grebes.

13. Roaring River State Park.

Paddle along the tranquil Roaring River in the state park that shares its name. Admire the vibrant wildflowers along the banks and keep an eye out for playful squirrels and raccoons scurrying through the undergrowth.

14. Montauk State Park.

Montauk State Park's picturesque waters are a haven for paddle board enthusiasts. Glide across the clear streams and observe brook trout darting beneath you. During spring, witness the captivating courtship displays of wild turkeys and the vibrant blooms of dogwood trees.

15. Little Niangua River.

Explore the serenity of the Little Niangua River as it meanders through lush forests. Paddle beneath the shade of towering sycamore trees and listen for the calls of red-winged blackbirds echoing through the air.

16. Long Branch Lake.

Long Branch Lake offers a peaceful escape for paddle boarders seeking wildlife encounters. Watch as great horned owls take flight at dusk, and observe the intricate patterns of water snakes gliding along the shoreline.

17. Gasconade River.

Venture down the Gasconade River, where towering bluffs and dense vegetation create a sense of awe. As you paddle, you might glimpse river otters frolicking in the water and watch as bald eagles soar gracefully overhead.

18. Stockton Lake.

Experience the beauty of Stockton Lake as you paddle along its peaceful coves. Keep an eye out for the distinctive call of the pileated woodpecker echoing through the forest, and spot white-tailed deer grazing near the water's edge.

19. Black River.

Navigate the meandering waters of the Black River and witness its diverse ecosystem. Marvel at the intricate root systems of cypress trees as you paddle, and observe the captivating dance of dragonflies and damselflies along the shoreline.

20. Huzzah Conservation Area.

Conclude your wildlife paddle board adventure at the Huzzah Conservation Area. Paddle along the Huzzah Creek, where you might spot river otters playing in the water and deer cautiously approaching the edge for a drink.


dog on a stand up paddle board

Embarking on a paddle board expedition through Missouri's water bodies is an invitation to immerse yourself in the state's rich natural tapestry. Each location holds its own allure, whether it's the graceful flight of a bald eagle, the elusive presence of river otters, or the vibrant explosion of color during the fall season. As you navigate these tranquil waters, remember to respect the habitats and creatures that call them home, ensuring that generations to come can also experience the wonder of Missouri's wildlife in all its glory.

Tips, Tricks, and Fun Articles await.

Here are a few quick links to help you keep going, don't forget to check our blog out for more tips and expert advice. For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards.

Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you! And check out the Glide O2 Angler and why it makes an incredible platform for birding and wildlife viewing.