Paddling is for everyone, but no one should jump into Class III, IV or V whitewater without the right experience. Water level, recent rainfall and other factors can seriously affect the safety of a planned trip.
Check out this list of Arkansas rivers for examples of Class I-V water in the state, but remember—check water levels before you go, consider using an outfitter or guide and always stick to water that matches your experience level.
“I’ve never paddled before.”
The Caddo River
Flows Through: Montgomery, Pike and Clark Counties
This 82-mile river has several sections of Class I and II rapids, and it’s often traveled by families.
“I’m a strong swimmer.”
Lower Richland Creek
Flows Through: Newton and Searcy Counties
Common Routes: Richland Creek Campground to NFR 1201, 8.5 miles
Section II is ideal for moving into Class III runs, with lots of action in the first few miles and a relatively flat end as the creek approaches the Buffalo River.
“I’m able to self-rescue.”
Flows Through: Johnson County
Common Routes: FR 1445A to Horsehead Creek, 5 miles
Don’t let the scenery surrounding the creek fool you; this run is not for the inexperienced.
“I’ve had formal instruction and lots of experience of increasing difficulty.”
Cossatot River Falls
Flows Through: Howard, Polk and Sevier Counties
Common Routes: Ed Banks Road to Highway 278, 6.25 miles
Section I is suitable for those learning to navigate Class II rapids, but section II becomes more challenging with section III getting downright hazardous.