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Caney River, Oklahoma
Report by Marc W. McCord

Wah-Sha-She State Park to SH 20
~ 55.5 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Caney River forms just north of Grenola, Kansas in Elk County, then flows southward into Oklahoma near Elgin, Kansas to its confluence with the Verdigris River just south of Oolagah Lake near Claremore in Rogers County. The river is dammed at SH 10 near Bowring to form Hulah Lake, immediately below which is located Wah-Sha-She State Park, an excellent place to begin trips downriver in Oklahoma. The river flows parallel to and west of US Highway 75 until a few miles below Bartlesville, where it passes under the highway for a few miles before crossing under US Highway 169 near Collinsville, below which it enters the Verdigris River. The Caney River is basically a flatwater stream with a gentle gradient that makes it well suited for recreational paddlers in canoes and kayaks, though rafts can ply the river if they don't mind a slow, uneventful ride. Trips have the option of taking out at SH 20 on the Verdigris River just below the confluence, or continuing on down the Verdigris to any access point on that river. This is an historic and scenic part of Oklahoma, so take your camera along. Trips can begin in Kansas, ending at Hulah Lake, though this report describes the river below the lake flowing entirely within Oklahoma borders.


Osage, Washington and Rogers Counties just south of the Kansas State Line. Nearby towns include Bartlesville, Collinsville and Claremore. Tulsa is just a few miles below the Verdigris River confluence and OOlagah Lake is just to the east of the river above the confluence.

Distance from major cities

Oklahoma City 175 miles; Tulsa 70 miles; Dallas 384 miles; Austin 574 miles; San Antonio 654 miles; Houston 630 miles; Little Rock 346 miles; Kansas City 230 miles; Albuquerque 717 miles; Phoenix 1,156 miles; Denver 800 miles; Salt Lake City 1,334 miles (all distance are approximate depending upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is usually very good to excellent, flowing clean, clear and cool to cold from Hulah Lake. Navigable flows are common, though the current is moderate except after a major rain event in the surrounding area. Flows are predominantly dependent upon dam releases at the lake, so expect low flows in drought periods.

Best time to go

Generally, any time other than the dead of summer is a good time to paddle the Caney River. Because of "simmertime" temperatures the best seasons are late-February through early June and late-September through late November.

Hazards to navigation

There are few serious hazards to navigation on the Caney River. This stream is a delight for less experienced boaters as well as those who just enjoy paddling a gorgeous river without the worries about whitewater thrills.

River Access Points

Wah-Sha-She State Park below Hulah Dam at 0.0 miles; Washington County road between Dewey and Bartlesville at about 14.0 miles; US Highway 60 in Bartlesville at about 15.5 miles; Washington County road connecting US Highway 75 and US Highway 60 at about 17.0 miles; Washington County road between Ochelata and Bartlesville at about 22.0 miles; Washington County road between Oglesby and US Highway 75 at about 25.5 miles; Washington County road between Talala and Ramona at about 35.5 miles; US Highway 169 bridge near Collinsville at about 46.0 miles; SH 20 bridge below the Verdigris River confluence at about 55.5 miles. There may be other acess points for this reach of the Caney River, particularly in and around Bartlesville.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Wah-Sha-She State Park (918-532-4627), located just below Hulah Lake, offers excellent camping facilities with 158 campsites, nature trails, fishing and river access. There are no known campgrounds located along the Caney River, but motels and other accommodations are available in Bartlesville and Collinsville.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known outfitters providing rentals, shuttles or information along the Caney River. Take everything you need and run your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

The Caney River is scenic and delightful for those who enjoy flatwater paddling. Trips can begin in Kansas and continue to or down the Verdigris River with a vehicle portage around Hulah Dam above Wah-Sha-She State Park. In all but drought periods the river has a near perpetual flow, often at navigable levels, due to releases at Hulah Dam augmented by inflow from area creeks and runoff from local rainfall. The river is accessible from several points allowing for trips of various lengths, but there are no known campgrounds between Wah-Sha-She State Park and the Verdigris River confluence. There are also no known river-related services to be found along the river, so be sure to take with you everything you need for a trip, including at least two vehicles to run your own shuttles. Paddlers will find more recreational use of the river and adjoining lands near the top of this reach, becoming more secluded and less used the further you paddle below the state park. Unless adequate flow exists it is best to avoid the hot summer months.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to I+
Length ~ 55.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow
First Put-in Wah-Sha-She State Park
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out SH 20
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: 07174400 (Batrlesville)
Web: 07175500 (Ramona)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Spring and fall months are preferable
Permits No

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

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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 ]
[ Bird Creek ] [ Cimarron River ] [ Salt Creek ] [ Spring River ] [ Stillwater Creek ] [ Verdigris River ] [ Neosho River ]

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