White River Arkansas White River Arkansas

Magic of White River in Arkansas: 5 Must Experience Wonders

The mesmerizing white river in Arkansas is a very famous river that flows through the United States in Arkansas and Missouri.

It originates from the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas and covers about 722 miles (1162 km).

The river makes a northward arc as it flows through the southern part of Missouri and then turns right back to Arkansas and flows southeast to its mouth at the Mississippi River.

The source and origination of the white river Arkansas are the same as the Buffalo River, the Boston Mountains found in northwestern Arkansas, more precisely in the Ozark Mountains – St. Francis National Forest that falls southeast Fayetteville in Washington County.

The white river Arkansas then continues to flow in the northwards direction from its source.

It makes a loop through southwest Missouri before it heads southwest towards Arkansas and to the Mississippi River near Eureka Springs, which is its mouth.

It further flows back to Arkansas and past the bull’s shoals in Marion County, Mountain Home in Baxter County, and Calico Rock in Izard County.

On reaching Batesville in Independence County, the white river initiates its second section, known as the lower white.

The river here becomes a bit navigable as its speed of flow decreases greatly, and the river starts forming shallow-draft vessels.

The white river then flows south of Batesville for approximately 295 miles through the delta region in Arkansas, passing many other places.

White River Arkansas
By: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.

At the last 10 miles (16 km) of the white river, Arkansas becomes a part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. This part of the white river Arkansas is considerably deeper than the rest of the river.

Finally, it empties into the Mississippi River, located in Desha County.

Despite the white river of Arkansas being much shorter than the Arkansas River, it still manages to carry the same amount of water that normally ranges from 20,000 cubic feet per second.

On occasion, it manages to carry more than 100,000 cubic feet per second during periods of floods.

1. Historical Background

Various Native American groups lived along the white river Arkansas coasts thousands of years before the European contract was signed.

The native Americans had managed to build and develop a large town focused on agriculture with their Mississippian mound-building culture.

This establishment was present on the lower white river Arkansas until Hernando de Soto pulled off an expedition navigating the white river Arkansas in the year 1541-42.

White River Arkansas
By: Morphart Creation/Shutterstock

The upper white river coast saw Delaware and Shawnee’s settlements with a Spanish heritage in the year 1780s.

The 18th century marked the presence of numerous French trappers and hunters in the upper white river. In the year 1819, – Henry Rowe Schoolcraft made notes on the scenic beauty and clear white waters of the white river Arkansas, suitable for boating.

Keelboats were one of the earliest means of transportation for early Arkansas settlers.

Above Newport – due to its sharp turns and rapids and the river’s low water levels during the summer months – additional labour is required to move keelboats upstream against the currents.

During this period, downstream travel along the river was the only feasible option to navigate Arkansas’s white river.

On the other hand, the lower white river of Arkansas could be navigated through both the Newport and the Mississippi Rivers.

The river acted as a highway to carry and supply crops and other agricultural products for import and export from a few frontier settlements to river towns such as Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The upper white river, Arkansas, saw steamboat travel’s commencement in the year 1831.

All the settlements and towns along the coast of the upper white river Arkansas kept the river’s pathways clear for steamboats to navigate through with ease.

The river’s winding course leads through a wide variety of environments – starting from the seasonal, fast-flowing waters of the upper White River to the much wider, slower-moving waters that stretch down the river.

One can find various small streams and lakes that are excellent spots for fishing and boating between these extremes.

The most common species of fish to be caught and found here is the trout fish. Trout fishing is a widespread leisure activity at the white river, Arkansas.

Other fish species, including brown trout, bass, and catfish, can also be found in various locations.

White River Arkansas
Photo by Maximillian cabinet/Shutterstock

The White River National Wildlife Refuge was set up under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s oversight to secure all the species of birds that regularly migrate in 1935.

The sanctuary that spreads vastly over 160000 acres of land is one of the largest sanctuaries of hardwood bottomland forest in the Mississippi River valley.

2. Tributaries of The White River in Arkansas

The Buffalo National River and the Little Red River are the main tributaries of the white river in Arkansas.

The lower white river tributaries include the black and cache rivers.

Many other small tributaries have their flora and fauna maintained under individual wildlife protection areas and are maintained by the various departments at the federal and state levels.

The White River Arkansas got flooded below Batesville during the flood of 1927. Along with it, the north and east areas in Randolph, Clay, and Lawrence counties also became flooded due to the white river’s tributaries.

At this time, the Mississippi River’s torrents caused the White to run backwards on its course.

3. Flood Management & Reservoir Creation

Many sections of the white river of North Arkansas were modified and made into dams in the 20th century.

The construction of artificial reservoirs had begun along with hydroelectric power generators to flood control schemes; this also gave birth to water management and destruction and recreational activities along the white river Arkansas.

There are Four significant dams in Arkansas and one in southern Missouri, the most important one being the Bull Shoals Dam.

White River Arkansas
By: Ruth McNeill Photography/Shutterstock

All were built in the year 1960s along the upper waterway. Bull Shoals Dam also makes artificial lakes and produces hydroelectric power for the local people living in the settlements on the coast of the white river.

Various state parks and natural life reserves are located in these regions, including Bull Shoals Dam.

These lakes incorporate Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake (in Missouri), Bull Shoals Lake, North Fork Lake, and Greer’s Ferry Lake.

4. Government Schemes for the White River in Arkansas

Usage of the lesser White River has been intensely greater in agriculture and business than the upper White River.

As rice cultivation in eastern Arkansas has increased, it has progressively depleted Arkansas’s Grand Prairie’s shallow water aquifer.

The Grand Prairie Irrigation Project aimed to pump out the water from the White River with the help of a machine of ditches, pipes, and canals to irrigate farms within the area.

This assignment has met resistance from conservationists and some farmers, who assert that the venture will lower the river’s water stage and create greater sustainable, much less luxurious options to the $319 million mission.

As of 2008, the final of the irrigation pumps is ready to be hooked up pending litigation; the effect of the canal boat route on the lower White River remains a controversial issue.

Right now, a 250-mile-long, eight-foot-profound channel encourages boat traffic from the Mississippi River to Newport.

Regardless of an uncountable measure of the ship traffic, the Lower White River Improvement Project has tried to develop this channel by an extra foot to bring the Lower White’s navigational limit up to standard with other enormous streams.

However, this arrangement is contradicted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and other environment-related groups and unions.


Financing for this measure has been repeatedly turned down at the state and government levels.

Yet, an examination was started in 1996 to analyze the possibility of developing the waterway by utilizing an excess of 100 wing barriers at thirty areas along the stream.

The venture is as yet in an in-between state forthcoming appropriate financing.

In acknowledging neighborhood protection endeavours and energizing administrative help of those endeavours, the central government, in 2013, named the White River a National Blueway—a second such assignment in the country.

Nonetheless, because of public kickback, the U.S. Division of the Interior dropped the White River from the National Blueway program soon thereafter.

5. Things to do Around the White River, Arkansas

The area around the white river, Arkansas, is famous for many activities and events.

The bull shoals white river of North Arkansas State Park is famously known for its trout docks, trout fishing, fly fishing, and spin fishing, especially at the North Fork River, and is situated here at the shores of white river, Arkansas.

This is why fishing is a very famous activity along the white river in Arkansas.

They have a state-of-the-art exhibition hall that is open for visitors and a theatre that shares and depicts the entire area’s history in and around the white river, Arkansas.

As you walk further down into the park, you will also find other amenities and establishments, including 113 campsites for campers who wish to camp and 3 rental RV sites for the crowd who likes to camp on wheels.

There is a riverside store that offers various fishing supplies as well. White River Arkansas state park is well equipped with all the hiking and mountain biking facilities.

By: Africa Studio on Shutterstock

They also host programs and workshops to learn about trout fishing with catch release techniques and Campfire cooking or take part in nature walks.

There are also many places for accommodation along the shore. The list of nearby hotels and resorts for you to have a comfortable stay:

  • White River Front Retreat at 0.9 miles
  • Aunt Grace’s Stay ‘n Play Resort at 1 mile
  • Dogwood Lodge at 1.4 miles
  • Point Return Campground at 1.4 miles
  • Mar Resort & Tackle Shop at 1.2 miles
  • Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock Houseboat Rentals at 1.3 miles
  • Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock at 1.3 miles
  • Lakeview Recreation Area & Campground at 1.4 miles
  • Cedar Springs Country Inn at 0.6 miles
  • Bay Breeze Resort at 1.4 miles

Many other kinds of water sports activities, like swimming and kayaking and many others, are held here at Arkansas’s white river.

Don’t forget to attend any of the many music concerts and fests held here at the white river, Arkansas.

The many food and snack centers and restaurants provide delicious snacks as well as meals.

Some of the best restaurants to go to are Connie’s Cafe, Anthony’s Kitchen, Gaston’s white river resort restaurant, Parkview Pizza, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, barn cafe village food office Letty’s Restaurant, and Big Creek Grill and Bar.

In short, there is nothing here that you won’t find!


If you plan on visiting Arkansas anytime soon, make sure to visit the white river Arkansas without fail and experience the bliss of nature while you stay there.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Sathi Chakraborty


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