VIENNA, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has temporarily closed Paydown Access on the Gasconade River near Vienna to allow for construction of a new boat ramp. A closure sign has been posted at the intersection of Highway 63 and Maries County Road 302 leading to the access.
Construction crews will replace the existing boat ramp, extending it farther into the river channel, and reorienting it to face downstream. This will strengthen the ramp and provide more reliable access for boaters. Construction is scheduled to be complete and the access reopened by Oct. 1.
“We chose this time of year for infrastructure improvements because it’s typically our low-water season and also allows the public to enjoy the majority of gigging season which is extremely popular on the Gasconade River,” said Area Manager Aaron Holsapple.
MDC purchased the Paydown Access property in 1959 and added a boat ramp in 1970. Camping pads and the original privy were eventually added along with shade trees for the central campground. Over the past 15 years, MDC has improved the area by adding more shade trees, campfire rings, and constructing a new privy.
Devastating floods in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, and a record-high flood in 2017 have repeatedly battered the river access area. Constructing a new ramp, oriented with the river’s flow, will allow the infrastructure to better withstand high-flow and flood events in the future, ensuring users easier and more consistent public access to this popular river.
“By replacing the ramp with a downriver orientation, users should find it much easier to load their boats when leaving the river,” said Holsapple.
The nearest public MDC accesses on the Gasconade River are upriver at Belle Chute River Access south of Vienna, and downriver at Rollins Ferry River Access east of Rich Fountain.
Area users should check the MDC Online Atlas at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/paydown-access in September for updates on construction progress and re-opening date. For more information, call (573) 897-3797.