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White River, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Sylamore to Guion
~ 11 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Between Sylamore Creek and Guion the White River flows about 11 miles as a Class I stream of flatwater with very occasional small rapids. This reach of the river leaves behind the Ozark National Forest, though the general area is still quite scenic and natural. There are no towns or cities of any significant size nearby, so the river retains its clean, gorgeous character. This short run is great for recreational paddlers in canoes, kayaks or rafts, and easy access on either end makes trips here quite enjoyable. There will be far fewer others on this reach of the river because of the slower current, wider channel and warmer waters which reduce the trout population to almost zero, though many other species can still be caught by those with a valid Arkansas fishing license. This run ends just a few miles northwest of Batesville.


Stone and Izard Counties of northcentral Arkansas, just south of the Missouri State Line and Bull Shoals Lake. The river forms the partial boundry between Stone and Izard Counties. Batesville, to the southeast is the nearest town of any size.

Distance from major cities

Little Rock 165 miles; Fayetteville 122 miles; Fort Smith 175 miles; Texarkana 309 miles; Oklahoma City 355 miles; Kansas City 497 miles; Dallas 490 miles; Austin 685 miles; San Antonio 765 miles; Houston 600 miles; Albuquerque 721 miles; Phoenix 1,490 miles; Denver 980 miles; Salt Lake City 1,514 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken. Bear in mind that Arkansas does not have many straight-line roads because of mountains and valleys around which they must pass. Allow adequate time based on distance and the often slow driving conditions that prevail in this area.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is generally good to very good, flowing clean, clear and cool from Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes. Flows are usually adequate for paddling year-round, weather permitting. This reach of the river is more prone to flash flooding than other sections because of the added inflow from the Buffalo River, so watch for signs of changing flow rates when on the river.

Best time to go

Any time is a great time to paddle this reach of the White River, though winter paddling will be quite cold and will require appropriate clothing to prevent hypothermia. Summer days will be hot and muggy. The optimum seasons are March through June and October through November.

Hazards to navigation

There are no significant hazards to navigation on this reach of the White River. However, paddlers need to be aware of weather and climate conditions around the river and surrounding areas because of flash flood potential. Inflow from the Buffalo National River can raise the flow on the White River quite substantially after a rainfall that may not even be seen on the White River itself.

River Access Points

SH 9 access between Sylamore and Allison at 0.0 miles; Guion Public access of SH 58 at about 11.0 miles. There are no other access points for this reach of the White River, though it is navigable below Guion down to Batesville or points beyond.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Bull Shoals Lake State Park offers excellent campsites with drinking water, restrooms, showers, and other amenities (this is the ONLY public camping area on this reach of the White River); Blanchard Springs Recreation Area (501-757-2213), off SH 14 northwest of Allison and north of Fifty-Six, offers 32 campsites, drinking water, restrooms, showers, picnic area and Blanchard Springs caverns for off-river exploration (this camping area is NOT adjacent to the river). Abundant sand and gravel bars, as well as riverbanks, offer excellent primitive campsites for overnighters, though most paddlers will not be camping if running this reach only. Ozark National Forest sits along the river right bank, and much of the river left bank is prvately-owned. Avoid camping on private property without having first obtained permission.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known liveries or outfitters operating along this reach of the White River. Bring your own boats and gear, and run your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

This reach of the White River is one of the least paddled sections, and that means that those who come here will be more likely to have the river to themselves. Paddlers can enjoy a lazy river with a wide channel and a short length of only 11 miles, which is perfect for less experienced paddlers who cannot go long distances or safely navigate faster currents and moderate drops. While still quite beautiful, the area surrounding the river is less spectacular than the forested and mountainous areas above. Ozark Folk Center State Park is located just a few miles to the west of this run. Trips have the option of continuing downriver to Batesville, the next access point below Guion, or beyond, though the river continues to become more gentle and less scenic as it winds its way toward its confluence with the Black River, and eventually to the Mississippi River in Desha County. If your idea of a great river trip is a lazy float, then this reach is right up your alley.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 11 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Sylamore Creek Public Access
Last Take-out Guion Public Access
Elevation msl
USGS Gauge Web: Norfork
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

White River map courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Arkansas Floaters' Guide
White River map courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Arkansas Floaters' Guide

Arkansas Canoe Club

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

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

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

White River

[ White River Homepage ] [ Bull Shoals Dam to Cotter ] [ Cotter to Buffalo City ] [ Buffalo City to Norfork ]
[ Norfork to Calico Rock ] [ Calico Rock to Sylamore ]


[ Bayou Des Arc ] [ Big Creek ] [ Black River ] [ Cache River ] [ Bayou DeView ] [ Current River ] [ Eleven Point River ] [ Little Red River ]
[ Middle Fork Little Red River ] [ Archey's Fork Little Red River ] [ Strawberry River ] [ Wolf Bayou ]
[ Salado Creek ] [ North Sylamore Creek ] [ Crooked Creek ]

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