This reach of the Ouachita River in Arkansas begins at the US Highway 167 boat ramp in Calion and ends 22.5 miles downriver at the Moro Bay State Park boat ramp at the Moro Creek confluence. Along the way the Ouachita flows through a marshy, undeveloped area of dense vegetation, but less than half way through this run you have a choice - continue straight ahead on a shorter course that passes through a lock system or take the cut to the left that follows the natural river channel leading to a mandatory portage around a small dam at about 11.7 miles, which has boat ramps above and below the dam on river left. These are the only man-made structures (other than a few lake house near the confluence) that you will see on this run until you reach the boat ramp at Moro Bay State Park on Moro Creek where the two streams meet.
Like most of the Ouachita River, this reach is primarily native vegetation and a lot of flatwater that is easy enough for almost any paddler regardless of skill level. There are boat ramps along the river at 11.4, 11.7, 11.8 and 12.4 miles, as well as at each end of the run. The elevation on this reach is near sea level, starting at 80 feet msl and ending at about 68 feet msl on a gradient of less than one half foot per mile, which means the river will not give much assistance in getting down it. Nearing Moro Bay State Park a few lake houses line the banks, but for the most part this reach of the river is wild and scenic on a slow-moving current. Wildlife is usually abundant, especially since this area is just west of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Louisiana border.
Southcentral Arkansas, starting along the Calhoun - Ouachita County Line and ending along the Calhoun - Bradley County Line at Moro Bay State Park, southeast of Calion and just west of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge. Little Rock is less than two hours away to the north on IH 30.
Little Rock 108 miles; Texarkana 110 miles; Fort Smith 230 miles; Oklahoma City 400 miles; Kansas City 540 miles; St. Louis 506 miles; Dallas 290 miles; Austin 420 miles; San Antonio 500 miles; Houston 350 miles; Albuquerque 900 miles; Phoenix 1,330 miles; Denver 1,070 miles; Grand Junction 1,314 miles; Salt Lake City 1,595 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point at the river and route taken.)
Water quality in this reach of the Ouachita River is generally very good due to a freshwater inflow and very little residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial pollution anywhere near its watershed. The current will almost always be very slow and meandering due to a very shallow gradient of 1 foot per mile or less, the only exception being after a torrential rain event that floods the watershed.
This reach of the Ouachita River is generally navigable almost any time of the year, even during periods of drought, due to its shallow gradient and its close proximity to other streams that feed water into the Ouachita.
There are few hazards to navigation on this reach of the Ouachita River, though care must be taken around the low head dam on the natural channel to the east of the man-made lock channel about 10 miles below Calion.
US Highway 167 boat ramp (N 33° 20' 42.51" / W 092° 31' 59.22") at Calion on river right at 0.0 miles; CR 131 boat ramp # 1 (N 33° 18' 04.99" / W 092° 27' 39.88") on river left at about 11.4 miles (above the dam on the lock bypass channel); CR 131 boat ramp # 2 (N 33° 17' 53.82" / W 092° 27' 59.92") on river left at about 11.8 miles (below the dam on the lock bypass channel); New Lock 8 Road boat ramp (N 33° 17' 38.48" / W 092° 28' 26.87") on river right where the natural channel intersects the lock channel at about 12.4 miles; Moro Bay State Park boat ramp (N 33° 17' 57.52" / W 092° 20' 59.11") on river left at the confluence of Moro Creek at about 22.5 miles. There may be other access points along this reach of the ouachita River, but some of them are on private property where obtaining permission is necessary.
There are no campgrounds or other accommodations along this reach of the river except in Calion and at Moro Bay State Park. Primitive campsites along the river are few and far between. This reach is much better suited for long day trips than for overnight adventures.
There are no known outfitters offering boat rentals, shuttles and other services along this reach of the Ouachita River.
Between Calion and Moro Bay State Park the Ouachita River is about as remote as it gets in Arkansas. The surrounding area is densely vegetated, swampy marshland in southcentral Arkansas just west of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge where wildlife probably greatly outnumbers human habitation. This slow moving part of the river looks about the same as most of the river below Arkadelphia, but its gradient is shallower and the water does not help you very much in getting downstream. Signs of civilization are few and this reach is ideal for those looking to escape the noise and congestion of city life. A camera is mandatory equipment for this part of the Ouachita River. Come prepared for a long, slow day of paddling where you will likely not see another soul during your trip.