No Flip Flops!

Image credit corkindependent.com

Few things are more important to a successful float trip than proper footwear. An old pair of sneakers, strap-on sandals, water shoes and the occasional pair of minimalist shoes are commonly worn by experienced floaters.

Also commonly worn, though never more than once, are flip flops. This is because they are completely unsuitable footwear for moving water! Without any sort of positive retention mechanism, like straps, they will fly off your feet the moment you hit the water! This leaves you barefoot on sharp rocks, chasing your ill-chosen footwear down the river.



No Glass!Assuming you are of legal age, consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted on the streams of the Elk River basin.

No Glass

What is not permitted on the water is any glass vessel! Sporting a glass bottle on or near the water is the quickest way to be asked to leave a campground or get an expensive ticket from law enforcement agents. It cannot be stated strongly enough that glass on or near a stream will get you in trouble fast! So help keep our streams safe from glass fragments by repackaging glass-bottled beverages in plastic containers such as emptied plastic water bottles.

Avoid Dehydration

Beside beer and other alcoholic beverages, be sure to pack plenty of water too! Floating can be a physically strenuous activity. When combined with heat and sun exposure, water is a necessity to avoid dehydration.


Anyone participating in a float trip more than three or four miles long should pack a meal. Most float trips offered by area outfitters are about seven miles long. Since the average floating speed during normal water is around 2 mph, these floats will last 3-1/2 hours plus any time spent stopped or overcoming obstacles.

Cold meals such as sandwiches abound on the streams of the Elk River basin. Others choose prepackaged items such as Kraft’s Lunchables for their convenience and waterproof qualities.

Grill grate

Image credit www.fleetfarm.com

But one is hardly confined to such convenience foods! In fact, hot meals such a bratwursts or aluminum foil packet meals can easily be cooked on the banks of your favorite stream with very little gear. All one needs, aside from the food items themselves, are a few two feet long sheets of aluminum foil, a few pounds of charcoal pre-treated with lighter fluid (such as  Kingsford’s Match Light ), grilling utensil and a replacement grill grate found at any store selling grills and accessories. When you are ready to eat, simply dig a 4″ deep hole into an area of firm creek rock. The further in elevation from the water, the firmer the rock will be. The hole’s diameter should be no more than three quarters the diameter of your grill grate. Then line the hole with the sheets of aluminum foil to prevent the rocks below from contaminating the cooking food when they inevitably pop from the heat of your burning charcoal. Now pile the charcoal on top of the foil and ignite. The top of the charcoal should be at least a half inch below the top of the hole. Once the charcoal has turned gray you are ready to lay the grate on top of the hole and begin cooking. Take care not to step too close to the edge of the hole supporting the grate! This can cause the hole to collapse, extinguishing the charcoal. Make sure others in your party know not to get close to the hole too!

UV Protection

During peak season, visitors to the Elk River basin should expect UV Index numbers to climb to 12 or higher on a clear day. With such a high rating, even those not prone to sunburn are advised to take precautions. Experienced floaters frequently bring waterproof sunblock, sunglasses and a hat or visor. Additional cover is also advised for those with sensitive skin.

Tipping Over

Tipped canoeIt happens, and it’s no big deal. Really.

When it happens to you, remember to act quickly to gather your belongings in order of priority. Those priorities, in order of importance, usually include things like children, paddles and the cooler. Canoes and kayaks themselves are virtually unsinkable, so gather the other items first, then catch up to your boat.

Items such as wallets, mobile devices and non-waterproof cameras should not be brought on a float trip as tipping over is common amongst less-experienced floaters.

Stash Your Trash

Litter on our streams is an unfortunate and largely preventable scourge that you can help stamp out.

Specialized trash bags for on-the-water use are freely available at every campground in the Elk River basin. Be sure to pick up one per person for your next float trip.

Placing your trash in the bag as you generate it offers a measure of insurance against accidental littering in case you should tip over. With all of your trash contained in a bag, it can more easily be recovered by yourself, someone else downstream or stream cleanup volunteers at a later time.

Intentional littering of our streams is one of the most unforgivable things someone can do! Not only does it destroy the natural beauty that hundreds of thousands of people every year come here to enjoy, it also aggravates the landowners on whose properties this trash accumulates. Since an aggravated landowner can cause headaches for floaters, it is wise to respect them and their property.

Finally, intentional litterers should be warned that their activities may subject them to public ridicule, law enforcement reporting or a measure of vigilante justice if witnessed by others.*

*This statement in no way should be construed as an incentive to conduct acts of violence against others. ElkRiverReviews.com does not condone such behavior towards alleged litterbugs. We do, however, hope they frequently tip over in rocky, fast-moving, snake-infested water whenever possible.
  • anonymous
    #1 written by anonymous 4 years ago

    I saw a full grown drunk man hang his buttox from a tree and take a crap into the river…IN FRONT OF LITTLE KIDS. This river is not recommended for people that like to keep clean and/or families. Tons of underaged kids getting drunk all day.

    • Dan Jespersen, Editor
      #2 written by Dan Jespersen, Editor 4 years ago

      im guessing u were on elk river, on a weekend, during the prime season (between memorial and labor days)? if so, yes, things can get a bit rowdy.

      for more family-friendly floating, or those that delight in the local fauna, i recommend taking a float during the week, floating on the weekend before the prime season begins, or choosing any stream in the basin other than elk river at any time.

      as for hordes of drunken minors, im a bit surprised as the local authorities are usually watching rather carefully during this period.

  • Bubba
    #3 written by Bubba 2 years ago

    Yeah the Elk riber is disgusting during peak season. Tons of nasty looking half naked women and drunk people. Massive amounts of trash (and who knows what else) flowing down the river. Fights are a common occurrence with all the alcohol. Not recommended for those that like quiet nature time, or who have kids.

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