Arkasas kayaking

Where to Kayak in Arkansas

Arkansas you ask? Why would you want to kayak there? Well believe it or not there are some of the best kayaking spots in the country in this little known state.

The streams and rivers of The Natural State (Arkansas) are quite beautiful. Though several large waterways can be kayaked year-round, however spring is the best time for good water levels. The most well known of all the Arkansas streams is the Buffalo National River.

It is a federally protected park to it stays pristine for generations to come. The the best things about the Buffalo is that there is a section of the river which is good for all levels of kayaking. The upper part of the river is considered the wildest part, especially after a hard rain. The middle portion of the river is excellent for kayakers with some experience, and the lower portion of the river is perfect for beginners. Note: This portion of the river is especially popular with hikers as it’s not accessible by car, you will need a portable kayak, here is guide on how to choose the proper kayak and paddle.

buffalo river

I have divided the 10 major Arkansas rivers in sections so you can find the perfect spot to kayak. Some of the rivers will qualify for more than one designation because of different sections of difficulty found in the river. The description will help you decide if that portion of the rive is a good fit for your level of expertise.

You will find rivers, creeks and water trails that give you beautiful scenery, a look at native wildlife and time to enjoy nature. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission manages more than 600,000 acres of lakes and more than 90,000 miles of rivers, streams and creeks.

Families who want to start kayaking should start out with a this first crucial step: research. The most important part of kayaking is preparation, and you should consider where you are going to put your kayak in the water and where you’ll take it out.

You also want to consider water level, recent rainfall, and the amount of time you’re going to be on the water. This will determine how much drinking water, food and sunscreen.

Almost all major rivers have outfitter services, which will  prepare you for your day on the water. The outfitters will rent kayaks, lifejackets, paddles and other equipment. The companies will also run shuttles that take you directly to entry points and will pick you up down the river so you don’t have to worry about how you will get back to your car.

Kayakers should always consider paddling safety and what to do in case of tip-overs. I would also recommend taking a class before embarking on a trip.

Please try to remember to respect the environment and keep Arkansas beautiful while paddling the rivers. If you pack it in, pack it out.

So jump in your kayak and enjoy the best that Arkansas has to offer:

The Buffalo National River

The river is, of course, one of the most popular floating rivers in the state. The lower part of the Buffalo is pretty easy and usually has water year round. Its also known as a wild river, meaning you’ll be surrounded by trees and nature your entire route. If you have them, bring your binoculars to watch birds and wildlife. Multiple outfitters offer a variety of tours and rental services.

Little Maumelle Water Trail

This river is a great choice for first time kayakers. The slow-moving stream is dotted with beautiful Cypress Trees, and leads all the way down to the popular Two Rivers Bridge. Plus, families can take guided kayaking tours led by a Pinnacle Mountain park tour guides.

Little Maumelle Water Trail

Saline River

The saline rive runs right through Benton(yes home of Warren Buffet) and is a close-to-home option for families in central Arkansas. The serene river meanders through forests, fields and farmland and is a great area for fishing, swimming and watching wildlife. Saline River Kayaking offers a short 4-mile tour from Peeler Bend to Lyle Park.

Spring River

This river near the Missouri border is fed by the Mammoth Spring, so this means the 58 degree cold water flows year round and is totally crystal clear. Stay clear of the party crowds that go there on the weekend and try a weekday kayak tour for a calmer, more family-friendly experience.

Ouachita River

This river offers fun for families that are more adventurous. You don’t even need a kayak to float from Remmel Dam at Lake Catherine to the whitewater park in Rockport near Malvern. People hop in with pool rings and rafts for the gentle float. The scheduled releases from Remmel Dam tend to keep the water levels high enough to float even in the dry summer months.

Caddo River

This beautiful river is a popular kayaking river for families and frequent canoe trips alike. It runs almost 40 miles from the Ouachita Mountains all the way to DeGray Lake. Beginners kayakers enjoy the six-mile ride from Caddo Gap to Glenwood, which has a few small rapids. For a slower float, drop your kayak in at Glenwood and ride to Amity. Several outfitters provide rental and shuttle services.

8 Tips For Kayaking Safety

Kayaking is a fun summertime sport, but it can be dangerous if you kayak in a reckless manner or do not take precautions.

# 1 Wear PFD’s. Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket that is securely fastened while on board any vessel.

#2 Bring along food and plenty of water, especially in the summer.

#3 Wear plenty of sunscreen, a hat and protective shoes.

#4 Pack a first aid kit in case of scrapes, bumps or bruises, and bring along insect repellent.

#5 Know your physical limits, don’t go on a long trip for your first time out.

#6 Check the weather forecasts, its a good idea to call the outfitter ahead of time to confirm that the river is safe for paddling.

#7 If you tip over in a current, keep floating until you can get out where it’s safe.

#8 If you fall out of the kayak in the rapids, do not try to stand up. Its possible to get your foot can get stuck on the bottom of the river and drown.

Most important of all, have fun while enjoying the beautiful Arkansas rivers!

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