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Flyfisher's Guide to Missouri & Arkansas









Click pic to enlarge

Elk River in Noel, MO



Origami Folding Canoe

The White River (River Level & White River Floaters Map)
Crystal clear and ice cold, the White River is a trout fisherman's dream. It is mighty fine for some summer kayaking, too.
  • The White River in Arkansas is my favorite river to visit when Oklahoma's Summer heat gets too extreme for kayaking. This is due to the cool mists that cover the river on hot summer days.
  • Great outfitters like Riley's Station can supply all of your fishing, lodging, and paddling needs on the White River.
  • The Cotter Bridge, also known as the White River Concrete Arch Bridge, is a lovely landmark where U.S. 62 crosses the White River west of the city of Cotter in Baxter County, Arkansas.
  • Elk River Canoeing and Kayaking is not too far away in Noel, Mo.
  • For more float trips try the nearby Buffalo National River or Kings River.
  • Just a short drive away is  Kings River Kayaking near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Take your fly rod and your kayak when visiting this angler's paradise in Northern Arkansas.

White River Lodging & Outfitters List 

Click Photo To Enlarge
Rocky Bluffs on the White River near Buffalo City, Arkansas.
The White River near Buffalo City, Arkansas

The White River, located in northern Arkansas, originates in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks.  It flows northwards from its source at Bull Shoals in NW Arkansas, loops up through southwest Missouri near Branson and then travels back into Arkansas and then generally southeast to its mouth at the Mississippi River.

Cold Clear Water All Summer Long  

Nothing cools you down faster than a spring fed river or a crisp clear lake on a hot day.  Arkansas is loaded with great rivers for kayaking and many are spring-fed. You can read about our most recent float trips on our Kayak Oklahoma blog.

Trip Report  - 7/27/2008 The White River

Paddling the White River in Arkansas

We visited the White River near Mountain Home, Arkansas to briefly escape a wicked heat wave here in Oklahoma. The family rented a cabin and a kayak from Riley's Station and enjoyed an easy eight mile float through thick mists that cooled the air immediately around us down by about 20 degrees.  The Riley Station operation is a family business that provided us with excellent lodging, much needed advice and kayak shuttling on one of the most unique and enjoyable flatwater paddling float trips I have ever experienced.  Check out the Riley's Station website or their White River Fishing Blog to visit them yourself!  More trip details below.

Mists coil around the trees near the confluence of the White River and the Buffalo River in Northern Arkansas. 
The White River

Riley's Station - at the Confluence of Two Great Rivers

Clear water, rocks and mist floating over the White River at the Riley's Station canoe launch.Riley's Station bills itself as an 'Outfitter & Hide-away', they offer clean, air conditioned, cabins, guided fishing and rentals of canoes, motor boats and two kinds of Malibu SOT kayaks. More importantly, they offer a location to-die-for, right where the bone-chillingly cold White River meets the scenic Buffalo River!

They have several cabins, but we chose the one closest to the water, directly facing the confluence. Since the rooms are underground, you get no cell phone signal or Wi-fi, but the view of the mist slipping down the river and wrapping around the trees is simply breathtaking. Even in the ninety plus degree heat, the cold waters of the White River produce ghostly clouds that skim the surface of the water and cool the bodies of the boaters lucky enough to find themselves there.

Kayaking on the White River

We left Riley's at 7:30am and put the kayaks in at a boat ramp about 15 minutes from our cabin called Rim Shoals. The current was running at about 4 mph, so Dianne and I figured we could paddle the eight miles down river to Riley's Station before the rest of the family got restless. I assumed that I would catch some good kayak photography light by launching early, but the mists fooled me! At the Rim Shoals launch, we could only see about 6 feet in front of our boats due to the thick mist that rose about four feet over our heads. Smarter paddlers might have waited for the mists to clear, but we paddled right out into it with nervous giggle.

Kayak level view from inside the White River mists near Rim Shoals boat ramp.The feeling of paddling blindly through these chilling mists in our kayaks, knowing the water below is too deep and too cold to stand, was thrilling. Although the temps were well into the mid-eightees already, at water level it felt like 71 degrees in full sun! The water was deep for the entire trip and the current never slacked up. It was a real 'float trip', as we only paddled enough to control our course and stay away from the sides of the river. Since the White River was rather high, you could hear is whispering through the trees on the banks.

Dianne paddling the Malibu X-Factor Kayak on the White river near Buffalo City, Arkansas.Dianne rented a huge Malibu X-Factor Fishing Kayak which came loaded with great features. We have rented SOT kayaks before but we have never gotten such high-end gear. At nearly 14 feet long, this was a much larger craft than either of us have ever paddled. The Riley's supplied the X-Factor with a top-notch high-back seat and a very nice paddle from Crack of Dawn. You ride very high and dry in this kayak, even in waves and boat wake. A true anglers kayak, the X-Factor is stable enough to climb all over and can carry about 600 lbs!  The next time I am shopping for kayaks, I will definitely consider a Malibu kayak for my next boat.

Riley's Station:
Outfitter & Hide-away

129 CR 640
Mtn Home, AR 72653


Outfitter Website: Riley's Station website

This Ain't The Buffalo River, But It's Close

Speaking of boats, this part of the White River (near Buffalo City) is loaded with boats. The motorized jon-boat appears to be the vehicle of choice for fisherman chasing the large numbers of rainbow and brown trout that hunt these cold waters. Although we saw a few other kayaks on the river later in the afternoon, we only shared the water with motor boats.

The small motor boats don't make much in the way of wake compared to the ski boats and bass boats that I am used to avoiding on Oklahoma's lakes. The fishermen struggle upstream slowly in boats with small motors and then they fish their way down river. This is a big change from the Buffalo River paddling trips Dianne and I have enjoyed in the past.  The Buffalo River is all canoes and kayaks, no motor boats. The White River feels much colder than any river that I have ever dipped my toes into. They say it is because the water hear comes from the bottom of a very deep dam's hydroelectric generator facility.  In any case, the cool mists that rise off this cold water are a great comfort on a hot summer day.  The mists are also great for kayak photography as you can shoot some amazing silhouettes.

Flower and butterfly near the canoe launch at Riley's Station Outfitter & HideawayI must admit that Dianne and I were pretty nervous about the sound of boat motors coming toward us in such a blinding mist, but we didn't have any close calls with the dozen or so fishing boats we met.  Of course, we were cautious enough to brace for the boat wakes and we chose conservative paths through the water.  Don't let the green trees and butterflies fool you, I'm told the water is about 50 degrees.  That is dangerously cold water so don't wear cotton, don't paddle it alone and DO wear a PFD... every time.

Kayaking on the White River is a great way to escape the blazing heat of the Oklahoma Summer.  I would love to return to this area for more paddling in the future.  It must be a vision in the autumn and I really need a chance to photograph Cotter bridge from my kayak!

Also, I think Dianne might want to come back and buy one of those fishing kayaks.  Got some tips about paddling the White River? 
Drop a comment on our Oklahoma Road Trips Blog.

My Perception Swifty and Dianne's rented Malibu X-Factor kayak on our White River float trip.

Table Rock Lake Kayaking

Kayaking on the Flat Creek area of Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri.Table Rock Lake impounds the White River near Branson, Missouri. This man-made reservoir was built for flood control on White River, but has grown to become a major tourist destination in the Ozarks. If river levels on the White River are not suitable for boating, try taking your kayaks to nearby Table Rock Lake. The Flat Creek arm of the lake is excellent for canoe and kayak trips, you can even find canoes and kayaks for rent in Cape Fair, MO. We recently paddled our kayaks on Table Rock Lake, trip report on our paddling blog. This lake is a magnet for fishermen in search of Bass and Paddle Fish. The lake's clear waters and numerous shady coves make it ideal for kayak fishing.

Table Rock Lake offers 13 campgrounds managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Swimming areas, picnic spots and boat ramps abound. Full service marinas and over 100 privately owned resorts dot the over 800 miles of shoreline on Table Rock Lake, so there are a million ways to have fun in the sun!

Kayak Branson is open year-round and provides quick and easy access to Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo. Single, double, and triple size kayaks for rental plus fishing kayaks and touring kayaks for sale. Located at 5403 State Highway 165, Branson, Missouri 65616. Also offering shuttle services to and from Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo.

Nearby Road Trips: Sylamore Scenic Byway

The Sylamore Scenic Byway is made up of a 26.5 mile portion of Arkansas Highways 5 and 14, and Forest Service Road 1110. Runners are instructed to keep a lookout for waterfalls as they dash along the North Sylamore Trail.

The route goes through a park-like portion of the Ozark National Forest which leads visitors to Blanchard Springs Caverns. The Byway is also a major link to Mountain View to the south and the mountain community of Calico Rock to the North.


Places to Stay During White River Float Trips

The White River offers more motor boat outfitters than canoe and kayak outfitters.  I've been told that many local outfitters don't put floaters on the White River, so make sure before you book anything.  Of course, The Buffalo River offers loads of outfitters and float trips.  As usual, the outfitters that Dianne and I have actually used and verified the services of are marked "Tested & Approved".

Rainbow Drive Resort

669 Rainbow Landing Drive
Cotter, AR 72626

(870) 430-5217
Outfitter Website: http://www.rainbowdriveresort.com/

Canoe rental, shuttle services, johnboat rental, guide services, campground and supplies. Upscale riverside resort cabins & lodges with Satellite TV, Jacuzzi & WIFI.

White River Inn & Kayaks

604 State Hwy. 56
Calico Rock, AR 72519

Phone: 870-297-4450

Small riverside motel only half a mile from the White River and 15 miles from Norfork Lake. Canoe & Kayak Rental on site.

Blue Heron Campground & Resort

150 Blue Heron Drive
Flippin, AR 72634


Outfitter Website: http://www.blueheroncampground.com/

Located under the U.S. 62/412 Bridge near Cotter,
Canoe & Kayak Rental, lodging, campground and supplies.

Canoe & Kayak Rental at Blue Heron

$30.00 per day for self-shuttle

$40.00 per day with shuttle to Wildcat Shoals

$50.00 per day with shuttle to White Hole

Wild Bill's Outfitter

23 Hwy. 268 East #1
Yellville, AR 72687


Outfitter Website: http://www.ozark-float.com/

Canoe & kayak rental, shuttle services, lodging, campground, restaurant, guide services and supplies.


Riley's Station:
Outfitter & Hide-away
(Tested & Approved)
129 CR 640
Mountain Home, AR 72653


Outfitter Website: http://www.rileysstation.com/

Canoe & kayak rental, shuttle services, cabins, johnboat rental, guide services and supplies.


The White Buffalo Resort

418 White Buffalo Trail
Buffalo City, AR 72653


The White Buffalo Resort is located on 3/4 mile of White River frontage at the mouth of the Buffalo National River. Tall sculptured bluffs and spectacular sunsets abound at this scenic spot that is open all year. Canoe Float Trips offered are from Cotter, Arkansas to Buffalo City or Rim Shoals to Buffalo City. 

Lodges, cabins (some with satellite TV, whirlpool tub), camping & RV spots, swimming pool, Jon Boat & Motor and Canoe Rentals, Children's Playground.

Outfitter Website: http://www.WhiteBuffaloResort.com


Riverview Resort & Country Store
17939 Highway 62 West
Eureka Springs, AR
(479) 253-8367
Outfitter Website: http://www.eureka-net.com/riverview/

White River cabins, Jon-Boat Rental, canoe & kayak rentals including shuttle service:
5 mile $40
8 Mile $50

Shuttle service $20

Picnic lunch available by request.


Gaston's White River Resort
1777 River Road
Lakeview, Arkansas 72642
Phone: 870-431-5202

Gastonís White River Resort hosts a Fly Fishing School in Lakeview, Arkansas.
The class aims to provide you with the best instruction and quality education. The cost is $205.


2011 White River Fly Fishing School Dates

June 18th & 19th
July 9th & 10th
August 13th & 14th
September 10th & 11th
October 15th & 16th
November 5th & 6th

Visit www.gastons.com/school.php or call 870-431-5202 for more information.




...Complete Oklahoma Area Float Trip Outfitters List




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