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Neosho River, Oklahoma
Report by Marc W. McCord

SH 96 (Kansas) to Twin Bridges State Park
~ 40 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Neosho River forms northeast of Council Grove in Wabaumsee County, Kansas, then flows south by southeast through Emporia, Lola, Chanute and Chetopa, entering Oklahoma just northwest of Miami in the far northeastern corner of the state. Its waters merge with those of Missouri's Spring River at Twin Bridges State Park on Grand Lake O' The Cherokees a few miles southeast of Miami. While not among the popular places to paddle in Oklahoma, the Neosho offers excellent flatwater conditions on clear water with few hazards of any significance, making it ideal for less experienced paddlers to enjoy. In Kansas, the river is fed by two significant rivers, the Cottonwood and the Lightning, and is dammed in several places to create lakes. The reach from Kansas SH 96 to Twin Bridges State Park is relatively short at about 40 miles, making for a good two or three day trip, though shorter reaches can be run by taking out or putting in between the top and bottom of the run.

Like other rivers of this area, the Neosho flows best in spring and fall months, tending to run low in the middle of the summer unless the surrounding area is receiving unusual rainfall. Twin Bridges State Park offers excellent river access and camping facilities making it the perfect take-out, as well as a base camp location. It is conveniently located just 6 miles from Fairland at the junction of US Highway 60 and SH 137. The area is quite scenic, and river trips are leisurely, so bring along the camera, plenty of food and beverages, camping gear, and don't forget your boat and paddle gear because there are no known outfitters located near this reach of the river.


Cherokee County, Kansas and Craig and Ottawa Counties, Oklahoma near the borders of Kansas and Missouri in far northeastern Oklahoma. The nearest town of significance is Miami, located very near the end of this river. Tulsa is about 90 miles to the southwest and Joplin, Missouri is about 30 miles to the northeast.

Distance from major cities

Oklahoma City 195 miles; Tulsa 90 miles; Dallas 353 miles; Austin 543 miles; San Antonio 623 miles; Houston 789 miles; Little Rock 390 miles; Kansas City 180 miles; Albuquerque 737 miles; Phoenix 1,176 miles; Denver 820 miles; Salt Lake City 1,354 miles (all distance are approximate depending upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is generally good to very good because of the remote, undeveloped nature of the area immediately above and along this reach. Flow is local rainfall dependent, though some additional push comes from dam releases many miles upriver in Kansas.

Best time to go

The Neosho flows best from early spring through early summer, and from late fall through early winter. Expect cold water from mid-November through late-March.

Hazards to navigation

There are no prominent hazards to navigation on the Neosho River. This is primarily a flatwater stream that is runnable by almost any able-bodied paddler in canoes, kayaks and rafts, though rafts will be very slow most of the time.

River Access Points

Kansas SH 96, between US Highways 59 and 69, just east of Oswego at 0.0 miles; US Highway 166 at Chetopa, Kansas at about 11.0 miles; US Highway 69 in Miami at about 27.0 miles; Twin Bridges State Park at about 40.0 miles. There may be other access points for the Neosho River in Oklahoma .

Campgrounds and accommodations

Twin Bridges State Park (918-540-2545), offers excellent camping with 160 campsites, 5 screened shelters with picnic tables, volleyball, fishing, indoor fishing and other activities near SH 137 and US Highway 60, at the confluence of the Neosho and Spring Rivers southeast of Miami. There are no known campgrounds located along the Neosho River. Abundant natural campsites can be found, but many are on private property - always obtain permission before camping there.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known outfitters located on the Neosho River. Rentals and shuttles may be available from Spring River Canoe Rentals nearby.

Reviewer's comments

The Neosho River is a great place to paddle near the Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri borders for those who enjoy scenic flatwater rivers. It is off the beaten path, to be sure, but its remoteness adds to the enjoyment of solitude that many people seek when looking for a place to paddle and camp. Ending at the confluence of the Spring River on Grand Lake O' The Cherokees, paddlers can camp at Twin Bridges State Park and run both rivers if time allows. The run from Kansas SH 96 to the park will be a two to three day trip for most paddlers, but marathoners could complete it in a day while others may take several days. Crowds are not a problem on this river, and the state park is rather small, so the area is never "busy" like you will find around other rivers and parks. Paddling through THIS Miami will not bring you in close contact with alligators!

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 40 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow
First Put-in Kansas SH 96
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out Twin Bridges State Park
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: 07183500 (Parsons, KS)
Web: 07185000 (Commerce)
Web: 07185080 (Miami)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season local rainfall dependent
Permits No

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

[ Arkansas River Homepage ] [ Kaw Lake to SH 99 ] [ Keystone State Park to US Hwy 69 ] [ Salt Fork of the Arkansas River ]
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Last updated September 10, 2014

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