Crooked Creek is all that its name implies - it is a creek, and it is very crooked. Hell, they could just as well have named it "Tricky Dick Creek"! It forms at the confluence of its east and west forks just south of Harrison near Marble Falls and Dogpatch USA in Newton County, then flows north through Harrison in Boone County and where it turns to flow west to east through Harmon in Boone County and the communities of Pyatt, Summit and Yellville in Marion County, across SH 101 and to its confluence with the White River just north of the White-Buffalo confluence south of Bull Shoals Lake and southwest of Norfork Lake, both of which are situated along the Arkansas-Missouri State Line. To be sure, more people fish for smallmouth bass than paddle the creek, but it offers a very scenic, Class I to II ride of about 72.3 miles with public access points ay several road crossings along the way. This description begins at Hudson Road on the south side of Harrison and ends at SH 101, the last Crooked Creek access point above the White River. Also included are three potential access points below SH 101, two of which are on the White River, the last of which is the boat ramp at Buffalo City.
Its banks are lined with willow, elm, pecan and oak trees making Crooked Creek an even more beautiful paddling destination in mid- to late-fall, when seasonal colors are in full bloom. SH 62 closely parallels the creek along most of its run, and SH 14 and 101 cross the creek at and east of Yellville, respectively, but the trees do an effective job of hiding them from view, giving the creek a feeling of remoteness that contributes to the joy of paddling this stream. As with many waterways in this part of Arkansas, the rapids pose no real hazards to navigation for competent paddlers, but willow strainers and dead-fall can flip, pin and/or wrap a boat, so eternal vigilance is the watch phrase for Crooked Creek. Another potential hazard, though not a frequent concern, is flash flooding, which can occur after a heavy rainstorm or prolonged, lighter rainfall within the drainage basin. Below Yellville, Crooked Creek runs underground except during periods of heavy rain runoff, and attempting to paddle between the SH 101 bridge and the White River Confluence can be difficult during periods of low water.
Over the years a battle has ensued between paddlers and landowners, but recent court decisions have set a precedent for a right of navigation, though private property must be respected - do not access the river from or camp on private property without first obtaining permission. There are no public campgrounds along Crooked Creek, but ample campsites can be found a few miles away at Bull Shoals Lake and Bull Shoals State Park just north of Yellville, Buffalo Point Campground about 14 miles south of Yellville along the Buffalo National River, or a little further to the southeast around Greer's Ferry Lake. Other nearby campgrounds can be found at the three USFS locations in Ozark National Forest just southeast of the White-Buffalo confluence. Because of a dirth of public campgrounds Crooked Creek is best considered for day trips, and parking at access points is VERY limited, as well as remote.
Boone and Marion Counties of northcentral Arkansas, just south of the Missouri State Line and Bull Shoals Lake. The Buffalo National River parallels Crooked Creek to the south, and Ozark National Forest is just southeast from its confluence with the White River below Bull Shoals Lake.
Little Rock 145 miles; Fayetteville 75 miles; Fort Smith 150 miles; Texarkana 289 miles; Oklahoma City 330 miles; Kansas City 471 miles; Dallas 470 miles; Austin 665 miles; San Antonio 745 miles; Houston 579 miles; Albuquerque 872 miles; Phoenix 1,330 miles; Denver 955 miles; Salt Lake City 1,489 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken. Bear in mind that Arkansas does not have many straight-line roads because of mountains and valleys around which they must pass. Allow adequate time based on distance and the often slow driving conditions that prevail in this area.)
Water quality is usually good to very good, decreasing in quality in hot, summer months or during periods of prolonged drought. Navigable flows depend almost entirely upon runoff from recent local rainstorms.
Tpically, the optimum season will be from late-October through late-April, but the river can rise substantially any time after a significant rain event in the area.
Crooked Creek has no rapids or drops that pose significant threats to paddlers and boats. However, its willow strainers and dead-fall debris can be a real danger, especially at higher flows when the current is fast and boats are carried into entrapments at bends in the streambed.
Hudson Road Bridge (N 36° 11' 53.77" / W 093° 07' 15.40") south of Harrison just east of SH 7 on river left at 0.0 miles; Winterberry Drive Low-water Bridge (N 36° 12' 30.49" / W 093° 07' 03.55") south of Harrison just east of SH 7 on river left at about 0.8 miles (poor parking); Old Stonewall Road (N 36° 13' 06.40" / W 093° 06' 31.07") in Harrison just east of SH 7 adjacent to the soccer fields on river left at about 2.0 miles; Harrison Junior High School parking lot (N 36° 13' 29.75" / W 093° 06' 31.38") in Harrison just east of SH 7 at W. College Avenue on river left at about 2.6 miles; Minnie Harris Park Access (N 36° 13' 41.54" / W 093° 06' 22.17") in Harrison at S. Main Street and S. Walnut Street on river right at about 3.0 miles; Upper Silver Valley Road (N 36° 14' 39.68" / W 093° 04' 40.34") at low water bridge on river left (possibly private property) at about 6.5 miles; Lower Silver Valley Road (N 36° 14' 39.57" / W 093° 03' 59.85") at low water bridge on river left (possibly private property) at about 7.8 miles; Bolin Hill Road low-water bridge (N 36° 14' 36.41" / W 093° 02' 51.41") on river left (possibly private property) at about 9.9 miles; Hathcoat Road low-water bridge (N 36° 14' 14.79" / W 092° 59' 14.47") on river left (possibly private property) at about 16.1 miles; Sharp Lane low-water crossing (N 36° 15' 17.80" / W 092° 56' 58.78") on either side (possibly private property) at about 20.4 miles; McDonald Road low-water crossing (N 36° 14' 24.06" / W 092° 56' 13.17") on either side (possibly private property) at about 23.0 miles; Harmon Road Public Access (N 36° 14' 02.23" / W 092° 55' 20.58") north of US Highway 62 on river left at about 24.2 miles; Arkansas Spur 62 / Foster Road (N 36° 14' 53.28" / W 092° 50' 35.97") off US Highway 62 in Pyatt on river right at about 33.4 miles; Pyatt Access (N 36° 14' 45.35" / W 092° 50' 05.52") off US Highway 62 on river right at about 34.1 miles; Snow Public Access boat ramp (N 36° 14' 36.43" / W 092° 47' 59.61") from Marion CR 4006 bear left at 4007 split (about 1.3 miles) and turn left at railroad tracks, then continue about 0.7 miles to access on river left at about 40.7 miles; Unnamed county road low-water bridge (N 36° 14' 21.78" / W 092° 45' 53.44") off CR 405 south from US Highway 62 east of Snow (possibly private property) on river left at about 44.0 miles; Georges Creek Access (N 36° 15' 08.81" / W 092° 44' 56.31") off Old US Highway 62 near the interesection of northbound SH 125 and US Highway 62 east of Snow on river left at about 46.1 miles; Kelley's Slab (N 36° 13' 45.89" / W 092° 42' 38.30") just below Marion CR 4002 west of US Highway 62 on river left at about 52.6 miles; SH 14 boat ramp (N 36° 13' 21.42" / W 092° 40' 45.77") in Yellville City Park just south of US Highway 62 on river right at about 56.1 miles; Marion CR 7055 Access (N 36° 15' 03.12" / W 092° 36' 01.43") south of US Highway 62 at Flippin on river left at about 62.6 miles; Marion CR 6001 low-water bridge (N 36° 14' 24.51" / W 092° 35' 03.55") south of US Highway 62 at Flippin on river left (possibly private property) at about 64.9 miles; Marion CR 7046 low-water crossing (N 36° 14' 46.12" / W 092° 34' 17.71") south of US Highway 62 at Flippin on river left at about 68.6 miles; SH 101 Bridge (N 36° 14' 35.76" / W 092° 32' 48.33") south of Flippin and US Highway 62 on either side at about 72.3 miles (this is the last practical access point above the White River confluence); Doe Bambi Lane (N 36° 14' 09.79" / W 092° 32' 09.77") south from Marion CR 7033 on river left (possibly private property) at about 73.2 miles. There are no other known public access points for Crooked Creek.
Additional access points are available on the White River. Marion CR 6062 boat raamp (N 36° 12' 13.63" / W 092° 28' 40.81") on river right at about 81.9 miles; Buffalo City boat ramp (N 36° 09' 52.10" / W 092° 26' 26.41") on river left at about 85.6 miles. The Buffalo National River confluence is 0.7 miles below the Buffalo City boat ramp.
There are no commercial campgrounds located along Crooked Creek, though single night tent camping is allowed at the Snow Public Access at 40.7 miles, at Brookshor at about 43.7 miles, on the bend at about 51.0 miles and on the same bend at about 51.7 miles. However, canoe camping can be done along the creek, but be sure to locate well above the waterline just in case the creek rises overnight. The creek is prone to flash flooding during rainy periods. Additional off-creek camping can be found at any of several excellent campgrounds nearby, including: Bull Shoals Lake State Park, which offers excellent campsites with drinking water, restrooms, showers, and other amenities; Buffalo Point Campground, about 14 miles south of Yellville, offering tent sites, cabin rentals, drinking water, electrical hook-ups, restrooms, cold showers and other amenities (food, supplies and gasoline are available about 1 mile away); Blanchard Springs Recreation Area (501-757-2213), off SH 14 northwest of Allison and north of Fifty-Six, offering 32 campsites, drinking water, restrooms, showers, picnic area and Blanchard Springs Caverns for off-river exploration (this camping area is NOT adjacent to the river); USFS primitive campsites all along the Buffalo National River (most have pit toilets); US Army CoE Campgrounds around Greer's Ferry Lake offering excellent campgrounds and amenities.
When paddling Crooked Creek, as with all rivers, creeks and streams, always be respectful of private property rights. Always avoid trespassing unless necessary to avoid injury or death, and always leave the area you visit cleaner than you found it. Avoid damage or destruction to all private and public property. The "Leave no trace" policy of land and waterway use should always be practiced. Be respectful and courteous whenever interacting with landowners along the creek.
There are no known liveries or outfitters operating along Crooked Creek. There is at least one known shuttle service for private boats and vehicles operating on Crooked Creek. Bring your own boats and gear, and run your own shuttles if not contracting locally for moving boats, gear, people and vehicles.
Whether fishing, paddling, or both, Crooked Creek offers spectacular scenery and a moderate whitewater trip on Class I to II rapids over about 72.3 miles from Harrison to Arkansas SH 101 just east of Yellville, or 85.6 miles if you go alal the way to the White River confluence and then down the White River to Buffalo City boat ramp. This seasonal stream is usually navigable from October through June, but is best in late-October through late-April, during the "rainy" season. Nearby roads are well hidden by the gorgeous trees along the creek. Paddling in late-fall is especially beautiful when plants along the creek begin changing colors. Canoe camping can be done along the creek, but paddlers should be aware of flash flood potential and set up camp well above the waterline to avoid an unpleasant surprise in the middle of the night. Crooked Creek is very near many other great Arkansas paddling destinations, not the least of which is the Buffalo National River and its tributaries just a few miles to the south. The creek is off the beaten path, and getting there takes some effort, but the drive is specatcular and offers as many great photo opportunities as will be found along the creek, so bring your camera. With no river-related services available along Crooked Creek it is necessary for paddlers to bring everything they need and run their own shuttles. If you are planning to drop a line, then be sure to have a valid Arkansas fishing license. Whenever the creek rises watch out for power boats coming upstream from the White River and Bull Shoals Lake to fish its waters.