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Ouachita River, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Arkadelphia to Nix Ferry Road
~ 28.4 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Below Arkadelphia the Oauchita River flows generally south by southeast about 28.4 miles through Clark and Dallas Counties to Nix Ferry Road between Sparkman to the east and Gurdon to the west as a Class I flatwater stream. The area is remote and largely undeveloped all the way to Nix Ferry Road. Its flows tend to be adequate enough for paddling most of the year, though they are higher in summer months because of hydroelectric generation at Remmel Dam on Lake Catherine above Malvern. The waters are generally well suited for recreational paddling in canoes, kayaks and rafts most of the time. This reach is somewhat popular with local paddlers, though is not widely known as a great river run because of a lack of river-related services available along its banks. Moderately strong currents facilitate getting downriver without much effort, especially during summer months, when flows are increased according to electricity demand in Malvern, Arkadelphia and nearby towns that receive power from Remmel Dam. This is a scenic wilderness run with few signs of civilization where paddlers can enjoy a good current in a serene setting.

This reach flows through a heavily vegetated region bounded by forests and not a lot of public access for a run of this length. While some are nearby, there are no towns or communicites located along the river banks in this area, so remoteness is what you get when paddling here. You will need to be prepared for a long trip when launching at New Ouachita River Park in Arkadelphia. The whole reach could easily take 2-3 days depending upon flow confitions, paddling skills and paddling speed.


Central Arkansas, in Clark and Dallas Counties, between Arkadelphia and Nix Ferry Road. Little Rock is a little more than an hour away to the northeast on IH 30, and Texarkana is about the same distance to the southwest on IH 30.

Distance from major cities

Little Rock 70 miles; Texarkana 75 miles; Fort Smith 165 miles; Oklahoma City 345 miles; Kansas City 486 miles; Dallas 256 miles; Austin 451 miles; San Antonio 530 miles; Houston 364 miles; Albuquerque 921 miles; Phoenix 1,258 miles; Denver 1,004 miles; Salt Lake City 1,198 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is usually very good to excellent, flowing clean, clear and cool from Remmel Dam at Lake Catherine. Flows are almost always adequate for great paddling, increasing during hot months because of additional releases for hydroelectric generation at the dam.

Best times to go

June through September offer the best months for higher flows, though the river is a year-round stream, weather permitting, with cooler temperatures in spring and fall months. Winter paddling will necessitate wearing coldwater apparel to prevent hypothermia.

Hazards to navigation

There are no major hazards to navigation on this reach of the Ouachita River, which flows as a Class I flatwater stream between Arkadelphia and Nix Ferry Road. Almost any able-bodied paddler can enjoy this run.

River access points

New Ouachita River Park (N 34° 07' 14.92" / W 093° 02' 46.18") in Arkadelphia off SH 7 / SH 51 on river right at 0.0 miles; River Road / CR 304 (N 34° 03' 55.65" / W 093° 00' 22.47") on river right at about 6.2 miles; Ouachita CR 21 (N 34° 01' 29.70" / W 093° 00' 03.70")non river right at about 11.5 miles; Nix Ferry Road (N 33° 53' 55.15" / W 092° 54' 23.06") on river right at about 28.4 miles. There may be other public access points for this reach of the Ouachita River.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no known campgrounds located along this reach of the Ouachita River. Hotel and motel accommodations can be found in Arkadelphia, or nearby to the northeast in Malvern and Hot Springs. Abundant natural campsites can be found all along the river, but some may be on private property where advance permission will be necessary before making camp. Numerous sand bars can be found on river bends, some large enough to accommodate a sizable group, but beware of a rising river overnight.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known outfitters or river-related services available along this reach of the Ouachita River. Rentals, shuttles and information may be available from outfitters in the Malvern area. It is recommended that you bring everything you need for a trip, then run your own shuttles due to the time and cost factors that would probably apply for utilizing services away from this reach of the river.

Reviewer's comments

The Ouachita River is a very scenic place to paddle, and because of hydroelectric generation at Remmel Dam above this reach the river usually has a good, steady current to help you get downstream without a lot of extra paddling. The surrounding area is quite scenic, and intermediate access points allow for trips of various lengths in close proximity to Arkadelphia and Malvern, with Hot Springs and Little Rock located just a little further away. Summers will have higher flows because of electricity demands in the area, though boating can usually be done year-round, weather permitting. The area will be hot and humid in summer, cool to warm in spring and fall months, and occasionally very cold in winter, so dress accordingly. The Ouachita River is a super paddling stream for those who enjoy remote flatwater paddling. This reach is extremely remote, with no signs of development along the way, so wildlife viewing is more likely than seeing people. Be sure to bring your camera.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to I+
Length 28.4 miles
Minimum Flow 200 cfs
Optimum Flow 500 - 2,000 cfs
Maximum Flow 5,000 cfs
First Put-in New Ouachita River Park (Arkadelphia)
Lat. / Long. N 34° 07' 14.92" / W 093° 02' 46.18"
Last Take-out Nix Ferry Road
Lat. / Long. N 33° 35' 32.67" / W 092° 49' 14.47"
Elevation 170 - 142 feet msl
Gradient ~ 1 fpm average
USGS Gauge Web: Remmel Dam
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Anytime, particularly summer
Permits No

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Arkansas Canoe Club - Promoting the sport of paddling

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Ouachita River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

Ouachita River

[ Ouachita River Homepage ] [ SH 88 to SH 27 ] [ Remmel Dam to Arkadelphia ] [ Nix Ferry Road to Camden ] [ Camden to US Highway 167 ] [ US Highway 167 to Moro Bay SP ]


[ Upper Caddo River ] [ Lower Caddo River ] [ Little Missouri River ] [ Moro Creek ]
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Last updated December 9, 2014

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