Oklahoma is even less known for its whitewater rivers than is Texas. The Glover River is a welcome exception when it is flowing, but it is a seasonal river that is best avoided during the dog days of summer. Flowing through McCurtain County in far southeastern Oklahoma, near the borders of Texas and Arkansas, the Glover offers about 32.6 miles of scenic beauty amid some challenging rapids and falls that can be dangerous for the ill-prepared, improperly outfitted or careless paddler who does not plan his or her route, then follow it. The river begins in the far southwest corner of the Kiamichi Mountains between the Kiamichi River to the west and the Mountain Fork River to the east, flowing generally parallel to US Highway 259 until it reaches its Little River confluence. North of Cedar Mountain the river offers spectacular vistas that strongly resemble many you will find in Arkansas or Missouri. The river is as difficult and potentially dangerous in low-water conditions as it is in or near flood stage, with the best whitewater trips coming as the river has peaked at flood stage, then started dropping. Unfortunately, it drops fast, so you almost need to be there when it peaks to get the most bang for the buck.
The Glover is not a casual river that anybody can run - intermediate to advanced whitewater paddling skills and swiftwater rescue training are highly advised for those who want to run it. The upper reach of the river drops through high bluffs with steep sides and a boulder-strewn riverbed with a cobble and gravel bottom. Dense forests surround the river channel offering seclusion for the outside world. Pack light and pack it dry - a light boat will be appreciated during portages, and stowing items in drybags will protect them from water exposure when running the rapids and waterfalls to be encountered on the Glover. It is generally best to run short trips due to insufficient water for downriver trips most of the time, and with eight access points in less than 28 miles it is easy to find sections to paddle. Most of the time some walking will be required on the upper section above Forest Road 71400 / 53000, especially during prolonged droughts. The lower section almost always has adequate water for a good trip except during hot, summer months of little or no rainfall.
Southeastern Oklahoma is hot and dry most of the year. Protective clothing, sunscreen and cheap sunglasses are recommended. Footwear is necessary for protection against rocks and other objects that could cause foot injuries. Aside from summer temperatures and low water conditions, the Glover is an enjoyable place to paddle for those who are skilled, prepared and ready for some good whitewater - the best Oklahoma has to offer! The native scenery, especially in early to mid-Spring, is spectacular. Primitive campsites along the river are abundant, with most of them on Weyerhaeuser Company property. Weyerhauser now charges a permit fee for access to their land (see information under "Permit Requirements" below for details.) Please leave your campsite and the river cleaner than you found it, as you should with all rivers and campsites along them.
It should be noted that parking near the Glover is very limited, and this is especially true at the last takeout at the low-water bridge just west of the Town of Glover, at the 32.6 mile marker, where the navigable section of the Glover River ends.
McCurtain County in far southeastern Oklahoma, near the borders of Texas and Arkansas.
Oklahoma City 175 miles; Tulsa 240 miles; Shreveport 150 miles; Little Rock 240 miles; Dallas 200 miles; Austin 390 miles; San Antonio 470 miles; Houston 490 miles; Albuquerque 717 miles; Phoenix 1,156 miles; Denver 450 miles; Salt Lake City 1,276 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)
Generally good. The Glover flows over a bed of solid rock and gravel shoals. The upper section may require some walking, even when the river is flowing. Except during prolonged droughts the lower section should almost always have enough water for an enjoyable trip. Check the USGS gauges before going, or else make backup plans to paddle another river in case you get there and find that the water went someplace else.
Due to the aforementioned low water conditions on the Glover, the prime times to paddle it are October through May or June. The upper river, especially, is frequently too low to paddle from mid-June through September unless there is sufficient local rainfall. The best time to go is right after a good rainfall in the drainage basin of the river. Caution MUST be exercised when paddling the Glover in high-water conditions due to potential dangers from boulders, tight drops and dead-fall debris piles. The lower reaches near the Little River confluence can occasionally be tubed. On the whole, the Glover River is best left to whitewater canoeists and kayakers with at least strong advanced level skills and swiftwater rescue training.
Permits to access Weyerhauser lands around the Glover River are now required by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). The annual fee is $16.00 for Oklahoma residents and $25.00 for out-of-state residents, though a $5.00, 3-day special land use permit is available for non-fishing and non-hunting activities within the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area (TRWMA). Permits can be obtained from any business where hunting and fishing licenses are sold in Oklahoma.
This is not a cut-and-dried matter. According to ODWC, if your trip begins and ends on USFS property, then permits are NOT required. However, if inside the TRWMA you stop along the way for ANY purpose, including hiking, picnicking, fishing, bird watching, hunting or any other activity outside the riverbanks, then the ODWC permit is required. It should also be noted that land along parts of the Glover River, including the streambed, are privately-owned. Getting out of your boat, even in mid-river, may constitute a trespass. Always obtain landowner permission prior to accessing non-public lands. According to federal law, these rules are not enforceable in emergency situations where a trespass is necessary to avoid serious injury or death.
There are numerous hazards on the Glover that demand attention and careful boating. These include small waterfalls, outcroppings and rock gardens, as well as low-water bridges. The rocks in the river bed can be very slippery and dangerous, potentially causing foot or other injuries, especially at low water, so be careful when walking in the Glover (or any other river, for that matter!) Portages may be required at low water to get around some obstacles, raising the prospect for foot injuries. At high water the Glover can be dangerous, posing a threat to life, limb and gear. Unless you are properly skilled, trained and outfitted do NOT attempt to run the Glover at high water.
(NOTE: In recent years several deaths have occured when boaters were caught on the Glover River when it flashed. Know the current conditions and the weather surrounding the river before you go. Topography on the upper reaches leaves little room for escape if the river suddenly rises.)
The major hazards to consider are the low water bridges at 7.2 and 16.3 miles below the FR 56000 put-in when the water is flowing high and fast, as well as Wolf Falls (13.6 miles) and Meat Hollow Rapid (15.0 miles). All these hazards fall into the extremely dangerous catgory if not negotiated properly. Scout all rapids and plan the safest route to run them, or else find a safe portage to avoid injury. DO NOT attempt to run the low-water bridges at high water unless you know the water is sufficiently high enough to allow clearance for the bottom of your boat, and then be very careful about hydraulic currents on the downriver sides of those bridges.
Low-water bridge at FR 56000 and the river at 0.0 miles; FR 72000 / 55000 at 7.2 miles; Camp Glover (with prior permission from the caretaker of the camp, and as an emergency only) at 10.3 miles; FR 53000 / 71400 at 16.3 miles; Low-water bridge at 20.1 miles, Highway 3 bridge at 25.0 miles; Low-water bridge just west of Glover at 27.5 miles.
The best place to camp when running the Glover is just a little drive away from the river at Lost Rapids Camp at Pine Creek Lake. On Highway 3, go 7 miles west from the junction of Highway 98. Primitive camping areas are available at Meat Hollow Rapid (15.0 miles). Many natural campsites are available along the banks of the Glover, which is bordered by Weyerhaeuser Company land, and is open for public use providing you have obtained the required land use permit described in the "Permit Requirements" section above. As with all uses of the great outdoors, you should impact the area as little as possible, and always leave it cleaner than you found it.
There is one known commercial outfitter who offers rentals and shuttles on the Glover River, however, his operation is not constant. It is generally best to take everything you need and run your own shuttles.
The Glover River is one of those you need to catch right after a good local rainfall unless you just really want to walk and carry your boat for extended distances. However, whenever the water is flowing the Glover is a beautiful, scenic and exciting whitewater ride that will get your juices flowing - if not, then you are already dead and just don't know it! The Glover is near the Mountain Fork, Little and Kiamichi Rivers, as well as Eagle Fork, Buffalo and Bok tu Kolo Creeks, so you have an option of running either of those streams in addition to or instead of the Glover without having to drive very far. If the Glover and Upper Mountain Fork are flowing, then the creeks will usually be navigable.
The Glover sits in a largely undeveloped part of Oklahoma, so commercial development is scarce, at best. There are no convenience stores, outfitters or other services near the river, so be sure to take everything you need for your trip. If you are a fishermen, then you might like this river, which has protected areas for wade fishing. Using low-visibility line, light tackle, small bait and careful casting you can pull an abundance of perch, smallmouth and largemouth bass and other species. Fishing is best on the upper section of the river, above the rapids and faster moving waters.