Echo Bluff State Park and a Float on the Current

October 21, 2016

Echo Bluff looms majestic over Sinking Creek on a cold, foggy morning at Echo Bluff State Park in Shannon County, Missouri.

Joyce and I left Wednesday afternoon to meet up with a couple of old friends, Charlie Rabeni and Danny McClendon, at Echo Bluff State Park. Our plan was to have dinner at the lodge and complete final preparations for a float on the Current River from Pulltite Access to Round Spring State Park. Charlie was one of my professors at University of Missouri, where I received an MS in Fisheries and Wildlife. He was a wonderful professor and friend, and remains a good friend to this day. Danny, one of Charlie’s MS students, has been a good buddy of mine for years and is one of the best naturalists I know. Danny is the only one of the four of us who hasn’t retired yet but we continue to encourage him to see the light and take the plunge.

Upon arrival at the beautiful lodge at Echo Bluff, Joyce and I checked in and headed over to the campground to find Danny and Charlie, and more importantly to get a first glimpse of Charlie’s Scamp mini-camper. Joyce and I have been talking about a fiberglass mini-camper for two years but this was our first chance to check one out. We weren’t disappointed when Charlie gave us the grand tour. I even took my shoes off and tried the cozy little bed inside the “egg” as I liked to call the little trailer.



The four of us in front of Charlie’s nifty Scamp mini-camper (13 feet) that he has towed all across the United States during his adventures with his wife, Jane, and sometimes solo. Charlie was nice enough to let Danny stay a few nights in his tiny, but spacious, home away from home. I didn’t ask about what rules were in place for snoring and/or other bodily sounds.

We all headed back to the lodge for dinner and enjoyed the likes of crab cakes, shrimp, meat loaf, and pot roast. What a meal it was and we were all ready for bed a little after dark. Joyce and I said good night to the boys and headed up to our gorgeous room with a balcony overlooking Sinking Creek. Charlie and Danny headed back to the egg.

On Thursday morning, a local canoe outfitter “Running River” picked the four of us up in front of the lodge and whisked us off the our put-in at Pulltite Access. Although Charlie owns several canoes and kayaks, and I just traded in my 25 year old, Old Town canoe for a brand new Wenonah Adirondack canoe made with lightweight Royalex material, we decided to be lazy and just use the outfitter’s canoes. I seem to keep thinking of excuses not to put my new canoe in the water so I received a good bit of teasing from Charlie along the lines of, “Danny, you know you have to get that first scratch on that Wenonah at some point in your life.”

It wasn’t long before we were on the Current River, heading downstream in a couple of well-worn aluminum canoes filled with food and drink, extra clothes in dry bags, and my compact travel camera, a Canon Rebel T-5 in a dry box. I hadn’t been in an aluminum canoe for 30 years so I had forgotten how much they love to stick to rocks and logs. It took a while for me to get used to the abrupt stop that occurred each time we scraped against something. All was well though, and nobody tipped over, even though the Current River was living up to its name after a hard rain the previous evening.



Charlie couldn’t resist wade fishing during each rest stop along the way. I always enjoy spending time on a stream with such a well-known stream ecologist, although Charlie is more comfortable asking questions than answering them. He has always been one of the most inquisitive people I’ve ever known.



Fishing was slow but Danny pulled in a nice smallie. The excitement of the day was when Danny missed a 19 to 20 inch smallmouth during one of our stops. He got a great look at the huge fish but it wasn’t meant to be. It took a while to pull him away from the scene of the action.

The day was cloudy and cool, and the colors were less than spectacular but we couldn’t have been more happy as we floated the entire 10 miles with the river completely to ourselves. We made it to Round Spring by late afternoon, where the outfitter picked us up and delivered us back to the front door of the lodge. Now that is service!

On our second evening at Echo Bluff, Charlie made a tasty dinner of brats and beans for the gang. He also pulled out a great bottle of wine and some dark beer. What a meal! After that, we scrounged some firewood from the nearby woods and made a warm campfire. It was the perfect evening, but Joyce and I finally headed back to the lodge to get some rest after a long, wonderful day.

The next morning, I gathered my my equipment and headed down to Sinking Creek, right behind the lodge, for some sunrise images. I was pleased to see the fog roll in along Echo Bluff as the first rays of morning added color to the rocks and vegetation. The featured image was my favorite from the session.

As I was finishing the morning shoot, I ran into a couple of other photographers who had the same idea as me. One of them knew me right away as she had attended one of my workshops a few years ago. I was humbled when she said the workshop had inspired her to become a serious photographer. Her appreciation was music to my ears.

I highly recommend Echo Bluff State Park if you are planning a trip to the Ozark Scenic Riverways. The lodge is on par with most National Park lodges I’ve visited, and the park features spacious cabins with great views, as well. I found the lodge’s staff to be first rate, so helpful that I was compelled to give a 2017 Missouri Department of Conservation Natural Events Calendar to Elvira, who handled our visit. On our way out of the park, we stopped at the campground to say a second goodbye to Charlie and Danny. We were surprised to find that they had already broken camp and hit the road for home. I was happy to see that I’m not the only one who always has to make an early start. Good times!

Thanks for looking,


Email me at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images and Print Information:


6 comments on “Echo Bluff State Park and a Float on the Current”

  1. Wonderfully done, Danny! The top image is so full of atmosphere.

  2. Wait, wait, I will have to read the blogpost at leisure, later. Fustofal (as I spell!)..that first image…it just took my breath away! WOW Danny! I’ll read the rest later…but =gasp=.

  3. Hi Danny, It was great to see you again at the park. You have been an inspiration!

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