Mark Twain National Forest
  • Home
  • Downloads
  • Return to Portal
  • North Fork Recreation Area (ACW)

    Notice: Portions of this recreation area remain closed due to flood recovery. Please contact the ACW Office for more information.

    North Fork Recreation Area provides camping, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking and fishing access to the beautiful North Fork of the White River, which has a total of nine major springs flowing into it. Two of its largest springs are Big Springs and Blue Spring, which contribute some 18 million gallons of cold, clear water every day. North Fork Recreation Area serves as trailhead for the Ridge Runner National Recreation Trail (35 miles long) and the Blue Spring Trail.

    Hours of operation:

    • North Fork Recreational Area is open seasonally 5/15-12/1 (no water after 10/15), including day use area (river access and picnic area).
    • Gate will be closed at CC Highway from 12/1 – 3/1. Walk in traffic welcome at this time for day use only - NO CAMPING ALLOWED during this time.
    • Day Use: 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM. Campground is for Campers only. Quite Hours: 10:00 PM – 6:00 AM; Check out time: 2:00 PM

    Rentals and Guides:

    Dawt's Mill/Ozark Mills Carriage Co.; Petit's Canoe Rental; River of Life; Sunburst Ranch Canoe Rental; Twin Bridges Canoe Renta


    • Campground nightly fees are $10.00/nonelectric; $15.00/electric;
    • Day Use Area Fees: $2.00 per vehicle; $10.00 per bus.
    • Annual day use parking permits available for $20.00 at the Ava Ranger District, 417-683-4428 (M-F 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM)

    Campground Camping

    North Fork Recreation Area offers 20 campsites, each with table, fire ring, and tent pad. Drinking water and vault toilets and garbage collection are centrally located. Sites are suitable for small travel trailers.

    RV Camping

    Sites are most suitable for small travel trailers, but some can accommodate up to 34' RVs. Two campsites have electricity available – one is the host site. No water and sewer hookups available at this location. The RV pedestal hookup is a 30 amp and also has a 110 outlet. The use of generators is not prohibited, but remember quiet hours start at 10:00 PM.


    Float, Wade, or bank fish to catch bass, sunfish and/or trout in the North Fork of the White River.

    Day Hiking

    Day hikers can enjoy the 0.6 mile Blue Spring Trail, or portions of the Ridge Runner Trail or Devils Backbone Wilderness Trails.

    There will be renovations to the day use portion of the recreation area beginning summer of 2016. A new launch will be constructed and the current launch site/water play area will be reconfigured. There could be short-term closures as a result of the renovation. Please check the Mark Twain National Forest website or call the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs District office for the current information relative to closures of the area. Thank you for your patience while we improve the North Fork Recreation Area. Thank you.


    Backpackers can leave from here to enjoy the 36.5 mile long Ridge Runner Trail (external link) or the 12.5 mile long Devils Backbone Wilderness Trail (external link).


    There are 10 sites for day use picnicking with grills and tables. The area also offers vault toilets, drinking water and centralized garbage collection.

    Boating - Motorized

    North Fork is a popular canoe launch from which to float the White River through the Devils Backbone Wilderness. There are several private access points downstream, in addition to the public accesses managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation at Blair Bridge and Patrick Bridges. Some outfitters also offer trips from upstream launches to this point.

    Boating - Non-Motorized

    A gravel boat launch provides small boat access to the river.


    The area is not managed for swimming: there are no lifeguards, depth or hazard markers, and the water is not tested. Wading, tubing and water-play do occur here. Use caution as the current, river bottom and debris can create hazards at anytime. Respect others, as this area is for everyone to enjoy.