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Beaver River, Oklahoma
Report by Marc W. McCord

Optima Lake to Fort Supply
~ Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Beaver River enters Oklahoma from New Mexico as the North Canadian River, then assumes an alias at the Oklahoma border all the way to Fort Supply, where it again becomes known as the North Canadian River. It flows through Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper and Woodward Counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle east of New Mexico and North of the Texas Panhandle, dipping briefly into Texas northeast of Stratford, the back into Oklahoma where it is joined by the Goff River just northwest of Guymon from which it flows east to Optima Lake, created by a dam on the river southeast of the Town of Optima. At the Town of Beaver it flows through Beaver State Park. The Kiowa River flows into the Beaver northwest of Laverne, then turns southeast to Fort Supply, where it becomes the North Canadian River once again. This report will describe the Lower Beaver River running from below Optima Dam in Beaver County to Fort Supply.

The Beaver River is basically a flatwater stream flowing through the plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle area near the borders of Colorado and Kansas to the north. The surrounding area is a remote wilderness with a few small towns nearby. The Beaver is not a high-flow stream, and seldom has navigable waters, though it flows at sufficient volume for recreational boating shortly after a major rain event within its drainage basin. The entire reach of the river is navigable whenever adequate flows are present. Numerous major highways and county roads crisscross across or parallel to the river all along its run, though signs of civilization along the river itself are rare. The Cimarron River, flowing out of New Mexico, is in near proximity to the north except where it diverges into Kansas before re-entering Oklahoma north of the Town of Beaver. Paddlers running the Beaver River should be prepared for extended paddling in a very remote area, having with them everything they will need for their trip. There are no campgrounds, outfitters or other river-related services available near the river.


Oklahoma Panhandle near the borders of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas, flowing west to east from New Mexico to Fort Supply through Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper and Woodward Counties before becoming the North Canadian River once again at Fort Supply.

Distance from major cities

Oklahoma City 252 miles; Tulsa 357 miles; Dallas 445 miles; Austin 635 miles; San Antonio 662 miles; Houston 691 miles; Little Rock 596 miles; Kansas City 597 miles; Albuquerque 535 miles; Phoenix 993 miles; Denver 414 miles; Salt Lake City 948 miles (all distances are approximate, depending upon starting point, destination point at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is usually good to very good at navigable flows, though it may be sandy or silty from runoff carried downriver. Flows are usually inadequate for paddling, but after local rainfall in the area the river can rise to boatable levels for a short few hours to a few days, then drop again to insufficient levels.

Best time to go

There is no "season" for paddling the Beaver River, which only flows at navigable levels after major rain events within its drainage basin. Flows below Optima Lake will be more consistent due to occasional dam releases. Check the USGS gauges at Goodwell and/or Beaver, depending upon where you want to paddle, before going.

Hazards to navigation

Other than general remoteness and the dam at Optima Lake, there are no particular hazards to havigation on the Beaver River. Be prepared for true wilderness paddling in a sparsely populated area where emergency or other services are not readily available. Take everything with you that will be needed for your trips, but pack as lightly as possible in the event the river drops too low to paddle before the end of your trip.

River Access Points

Unnamed Texas County road running south from Tyrone about three miles below Optima Dam at 0.0 miles; US Highway 83 bridge between Turpin and Grey at about miles; Beaver State Park near US Highway 270 and the Town of Beaver at about miles; SH 149 bridge south of Mocane at about miles; Beaver County road south of Gates at about miles; US Highway 283 bridge north of Laverne at about miles; SH 149 bridge east of Laverne at about miles; SH 46 bridge at May at about miles; Unnamed Harper County road just east of the US Highway 270 - 183 intersection at about miles (last access point for the Beaver River.)

NOTE: It is possible that some of these low-water crossings will be washed out an inaccessible - check with local law enforcement agencies to determine current status of crossings and access points before planning and beginning a trip on the beaver River.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Beaver State Park, at the Town of Beaver and US Highway 270, offers excellent camping facilities and other amenities. There are no known campgrounds located along the river, though many natural campsites can be found. Beware of camping on private land without having first obtained permission.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known liveries, outfitters or shuttle services operating along the Beaver River. Take whatever you need for your trip and arrange your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

The Beaver River, below Optima Dam, flows to Fort Supply as a generally flatwater stream in a very remote, undeveloped area of the Oklahoma Panhandle where signs of civilization few to non-existent. The first real signs of life are around the Town of Beaver and Beaver State Park, then again around May and at Fort Supply. The park offers an excellent stopover for cntinuing downriver, as well as a starting or ending point for shorter trips. The river is not technically difficult, but the remoteness of the area and the distance betwen access points on some reaches makes this a trip to plan carefully, keeping an eye on water levels. Dam-released water supplements the natural flow from rain runoff, but it is not dependable enough to just pack it up and go. Two USGS gauges offer reading at the Town of Goodwell above the lake and at the Town of Beaver below the lake, but both readings are taken in the middle of the reaches. Generally, it is best to avoid trips to the Beaver River during hot summer months when flows will naturally be low, but that can quickly change with a major shower or thunderstorm around the river. With adequate water trips can be extended below Fort Supply on the North Canadian River. This river is best suited for those who enjoy and are prepared for wilderness paddling with the possibility of long portages, especially if the water drops to levels too low to boat. Whitewater hazards are not a concern, but packing economically is of paramount importance. Because of the remote nature of this area contacting the Oklahoma Highway Patrol with your trip plans, including where vehicles will be staged, might be a very good idea so that they are not mistaken as being abandoned, then towed while you are on the river.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to II
Length miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in
Last Take-out
Elevation msl
Gradient max.
USGS Gauge Web: 07234000 (Beaver)
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Local rainfall dependent
Permits No

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