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Ouachita River, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Nix Ferry Road to Camden
~ 37.1 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

From Nix Ferry Road between Gurdon and Sparkman the Ouachita River flows about 37.1 miles through Clark and Dallas Counties down to Sandy Beach Park in Camden at SH 7. The Little Missouri River flows into the Ouachita River about 10.5 miles below Nix Ferry Road, adding significant additional flow to the river. Surrounding the river is more remote wilderness like that on the reach above, with no towns located along the way. SH 7 closely parallels the river a few miles to the east. To the west of the Camden take-out for this reach sits Poison Spring Monument and White Oak Lake State Parks. The river usually is navigable and easy enough for almost anybody to enjoy. Wooded banks and natural vegetation on surrounding land make this a scenic run where there are no campgrounds or outfitters, but ample places for natural campsites that offer paddlers the opportunity for trips of one to three or more days. Roads from Camden lead northeast to Pine Bluff, south and west to Texarkana, north to Arkadelphia and south to El Dorado, all within about 90 minutes of the end of this reach.


Central Arkansas, in Dallas and Ouachita Counties, between Arkadelphia and El Dorado. Texarkana is about 115 miles to the southwest. Arkadelphia is about 30 miles to the north. El Dorado is about 30 miles to the south. Pine Bluff is about 68 miles to the northeast.

Distance from major cities

Little Rock 95 miles; Texarkana 115 miles; Fort Smith 195 miles; Oklahoma City 375 miles; Kansas City 516 miles; Dallas 260 miles; Austin 491 miles; San Antonio 570 miles; Houston 404 miles; Albuquerque 961 miles; Phoenix 1,298 miles; Denver 1,044 miles; Salt Lake City 1,238 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is usually good to very good, flowing clean, clear and cool from Lake Catherine above Malvern, augmented by inflow from the Little Missouri River confluence about 11 miles below the top of this reach. Adequate flows almost always exist for paddling.

Best times to go

This reach of the Ouachita River is navigable in canoes, kayaks and rafts just about all the time. Optimum conditions will frequently be found in spring and fall months, when the air is cooler, but best flows occur during summer months when electricity is being generated at Remmel Dam on Lake Catherine. Winter paddling is great for those who are properly attired for the conditions of cold air and water temperatures.

Hazards to navigation

There are no major hazards to navigation along this reach of the Ouachita River, which is runnable by almost any able-bodied paddler.

River access points

Nix Ferry Road (N 33° 35' 32.67" / W 092° 49' 14.47") between Gurton and Sparkman on river right at 0.0 miles; East Whelen Road at Ouachita CR 196 (N 33° 49' 54.27" / W 092° 53' 40.03") on river right at about 7.7 miles; Ouachita CR 25 at CR 86 (N 33° 48' 19.87" / W 092° 53' 45.20") just below the Little Missouri River confluence on river left at about 10.5 miles; Sandy Beach Park boat ramp (N 33° 35' 32.67" / W 092° 49' 14.47") in Camden at US 79 / Van Buren street / SH 7 Business on river right at about 37.1 miles. There are no known access points between the top of this reach and the take-out at Camden. This run requires a marathon day of paddling or an overnight trip of two or more days, depending upon paddler preference and ability.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no public campgrounds located along this reach of the Ouachita River. Poison Spring Monument State Park, off SH 53 just northwest of Camden, offers excellent camping facilities a few miles away from the end of this reach. White Oak Lake State Park, a little further to the northwest, also offers excellent camping facilities. Natural campsites can be found all along the river, but take care not to camp on private property unless you have first obtained permission.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no outfitters located along this reach of the Ouachita River. Take along everything you need for paddling and camping, and run your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

This is another remote wilderness run on a gorgeous river flowing through undeveloped central Arkansas. The run is longer than most people want to do in a single day, though good flows make it possible to run by getting an early start and paddling steadily at a moderate pace. It is better suited for a two or three day trip for most paddlers who enjoy camping in a primitive setting along the way. The whole area is very natural and scenic, so take the camera to preserve memories. Trips on the Lower Little Missouri River can also end on the Ouachita at Camden, or at any access point downriver from there. The year-round nature of navigable flows allows paddlers to pick a time that fits their schedules as well as their preferences for paddling conditions.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to I+
Length 37.1 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Nix Ferry Road
Lat. / Long. N 33° 35' 32.67" / W 092° 49' 14.47"
Last Take-out Sandy Beach Park
Lat. / Long. N 33° 35' 32.67" / W 092° 49' 14.47"
Elevation 142 - 81 feet msl
Gradient < 1.7 fpm average
USGS Gauge Web: Remmel Dam
Web: Camden
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Anytime, particularly summer
Permits No

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

Arkansas Canoe Club - Promoting the sport of paddling

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

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

Ouachita River

[ Ouachita River Homepage ] [ SH 88 to SH 27 ] [ Remmel Dam to Arkadelphia ] [ Arkadelphia to Nix Ferry Road ] [ Camden to US Highway 167 ] [ US Highway 167 to Moro Bay SP ]


[ Upper Caddo River ] [ Lower Caddo River ] [ Little Missouri River ] [ Moro Creek ]
[ Saline North Fork ] [ Saline Alum Fork ] [ Saline Middle Fork ] [ Lower Saline River ]

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