navigation bar

War Eagle Creek, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Arkansas SH 23 to Arkansas SH 45
~ 27.1 miles

navigation bar River descriptions categorized by state First Aid and general safety information Southwest Paddler on-line store Southwest Paddler Yellow Pages listings Environmental issues and concerns Photos of rivers and surrounding areas Trip reports with photos How to advertise on Southwest Paddler Advertiser Index Internet links to related information and services Southwest Paddler visitor comments General disclaimer Product Reviews Federal and state navigation laws Credits for contributors Web Campfire

SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

War Eagle Creek is a part of the White River system of waterways. War Eagle Creek is somewhat of an anomaly by Arkansas standards - its flow is almost perpetual, though it is seldom boatable during summer months when the southwestern United States is usually hot and dry. It also flows in a generally northerly direction. The creek begins its life southeast of Huntsville near the small community of Boston in Madison County, then flows generally northwest across SH 68, through Withrow Springs State Park to Beaver Lake just east of Bentonville and Rogers in Benton County of far northwestern Arkansas. Its headwaters are situated between the Upper White River (West Fork) to the west and the Hailstone/Buffalo National and Kings Rivers to the east. War Eagle Creek is a Class I to II moderate whitewater stream with some rapids in its upper reach that approach Class III difficulty at higher flows, usually when it is cold in this remote corner of "The Natural State of Arkansas".

The creek forms among the hardwoods of Ozark National Forest and flows through alternating forests and farmlands as it approaches Beaver Lake just south of the Missouri State Line. Its primary hazards are brush and debris piles left over from dead-fallen trees that find their ways into the creekbed. Scenery all around the creek is excellent. The high, tree-covered bluffs surrounding the creek remind you of the Buffalo National River in many ways, though War Eagle Creek is much smaller and much lower volume. The flow is moderate except during drought periods or right after heavy local rainfall, two conditions which present very different characteristics to the stream. It is an excellent fishing stream where anglers will find a variety of bass, bream, catfish, perch and even walleye.

The gorgeous Withrow Springs State Park, through which War Eagle creek flows, often serves as a base camp for people canoeing, kayaking or fishing the waters of the creek. Hiking trails in the park provide scenic vistas of the creek below and the surrounding valley, as well as by a tributary creek where War Eagle Cave is located, and which serves as the home of several bat species. Wildlife is also abundant around the creek, and visitors may see bobcats, deer, groundhogs, foxes, turkeys, many species of birds including kingfishers and woodpeckers, otters, wood ducks and who knows what else. Butterflies are abundant in spring and summer months.

NOTE: War Eagle Cave has been close to the public since April, 2010, in an effort to protect it from a bat-to-bat disease called White-nose Syndrome, a fungus that has killed millions of bats in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states. The disease is transmitted bat to bat. White-nose Syndrome was discovered in the northeastern United States in 2006, and has now spread as far west as Tennessee. For more information about this cave closure, visit:

Basically, War Eagle Creek is a fun ride of about 26 miles without many true dangers (unless you hear some guys playing "Dueling Banjos" in the woods), but a lot of gorgeous terrain is all around. Withrow Springs State Park is located at just about the midway point of this run, and can be an excellent stopover for overnight trips, as well as an intermediate access for shorter trips starting or ending there. Bring your camera to this leisurely, scenic, moderate whitewater creek and enjoy the Ozark National Forest on another of Arkansas' many wonderful paddling streams.


Madison and Benton Counties of far northwestern Arkansas very near the headwaters of the Hailstone/Buffalo National River and the West Fork of the White River, then flowing northwest to Beaver Lake east of Rogers and Bentonville, and just south of the Missouri State Line.

Distance from major cities

Fort Smith 82 miles; Fayetteville 20 miles; Little Rock 175 miles; Texarkana 262 miles: Kansas City 280 miles; Oklahoma City 262 miles; Dallas 422 miles; Austin 638 miles; San Antonio 718 miles; Houston 531 miles; Albuquerque 804 miles; Phoenix 1,262 miles; Denver 887 miles; Salt Lake City 1,421 miles (all distances are approximate, and depend upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Overall, water quality is usually good to very good due to the remote and undeveloped nature of the area, though farmland runoff can degrade it slightly, especially in spring and summer months. Flows are almost always adequate for paddling except during the summer months, when the creek can drop to levels that are not navigable. War Eagle Creek gets its water from local rainfall and runoff from feeder creeks and streams.

Best time to go

Usually, any time other than summer months is a good time to paddle War Eagle Creek. Prime conditions exist from late-October through March, depending upon season rainfall and occasional winter snow witnin the drainage basin.

Hazards to navigation

There are no major rapids or similar hazards on War Eagle Creek at normal flows, though some of the Class II drops on the upper creek can approach Class III status when the creek rises above normal levels. Brush and debris piles from dead-fall occasionally create potential strainers and entrapments that must be avoided, but they are minor problems for competent boaters. At optimum levels beware of deadfall logs in the creek or trees extending from the banks that must be avoided. These can become even more perilous at higher flows.

River Access Points

Arkansas SH 23 bridge southeast of Huntsville at 0.0 miles; Arkansas SH 68 bridge just east of Huntsville at about 10.0 miles; Withrow Springs State Park, on river right at SH 23, at about 14.0 miles; Rocky Ford off County Road 8500 at about 16.1 miles; Arkansas SH 45 bridge just north of Hindsville and west of Withrow Springs State Park at about 27.1 miles. There may be other access roads between the first put-in and the last take-out mentioned, as well as below SH 45 and Beaver Lake.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Withrow Springs State Park offers 47 campsites, drinking water, restrooms, showers, electrical hook-ups, picnic facilities and canoe rentals. There is one other known campground located along War Eagle Creek. Parts of the creekbanks lie within Ozark National Forest and are available for primitive camping, but other parts of the banks are privately-owned lands, and trespassing should be avoided unless having first secured landowner permission to be there. Several other state parks are located nearby.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

Canoe rentals and shuttles for rented canoes are available at Withrow Springs State Park. One other known commercial outfitter operates on this creek.

Reviewer's comments

If you are looking for a place that is as gorgeous as the Buffalo National River, but a lot less crowded, then War Eagle Creek may be just what the doctor ordered. This beautiful creek is a tributary of the Upper White River in Northwest Arkansas. It offers a somewhat short whitewater paddling season except in wet years, though it is generally navigable with some walking most of the time. It is always an excellent fishing stream, and wildlife sightings are a frequent event here. War Eagle Creek is also surrounded by many other great Arkansas rivers and creeks, so a trip here can be combined with ventures on other watereways at the same time. Most of the whitewater is easy enough for less experienced boaters except in high water conditions, so just about anybody can enjoy this river. Be sure to bring a camera - there is plenty of opportunity for nature photography in this area!

Technical Data
Class Rating I to II (III w/ heavy rainfall)
Length 27.1 miles
Min. Stage
Opt. Stage 2.0 - 3.0 feet
Max. Stage
First Put-in SH 23 Bridge
Lat. / Long. 36° 2' 29.65" / 93° 42' 17.62"
Last Take-out SH 45 Bridge
Lat. / Long. 36° 07' 52.70" / 93° 56" 51.83"
Elevation 1,294 ft. msl
Gradient 4 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Hindsville
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Year-round, wather permitting
Permits No

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 Upper White River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Upper White River Homepage ] [ Upper White River ] [ West Fork Upper White River ]

Southwest Paddler
Click to return to the Southwest Paddler Homepage
Home Page
Southwest Paddler

Arkansas Rivers Index
Canoeman River

Guide Services
Return to the homepage
Home Page

CobraGraphics - Web Designs with a Bite!

Send E-mail This web page designed, created and maintained by
Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics
© November 18, 2002. All rights reserved.
Last updated December 31, 2014

Copyright © 1997-2015, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.