Best Places To Kayak In Arkansas

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Arkansas boasts numerous beautiful lakes and rivers that are prime for kayaking! Its intriguing wildlife adds to its excitement, and both kids and adults are captivated by it! Nature has always demanded a kind of respect, and kayaking in Arkansas is no exception.

Kayak registration in Arkansas is unnecessary unless an engine powers it. Anyone on board is required by law to wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. If vision is limited, the watercraft needs lights switched on before and after sunset. Inebrehation while kayaking can get you jailed.

There are finer details to be aware of regarding kayaking in Arkansas, such as what activities are prohibited near the water and what containers food and beverages should come in.

Kayaking In Arkansas

Kayaking excursions are a mainstay for anyone who loves the outdoors in the Natural State, whether you’re a canoe enthusiast, a kayak enthusiast, a lover of huge rafts, or just someone who enjoys hanging out on an inner tube. The rivers and streams of Arkansas are a fantastic opportunity to experience the finest of the beautiful state.

There are, however, legal rules and regulations that govern your kayaking experiences in Arkansas. Firstly, ensure that if you have an engine-powered vehicle, it is registered; watercraft that do not have an engine does not need to be registered.

However, anyone looking to operate on public waterways must first obtain a Certificate of Number (registration) and validation stickers. It is required by law that all persons aboard a kayak have a life jacket (PFD). Children must wear a life jacket that is firmly attached. The United States Coast Guard must authorize all life jackets.

Furthermore, watercraft are expected to have enough lighting to reveal their location to other vessels and alert them to their presence. When vision is obscured for whatever reason, it’s the responsibility of the boaters to have their lights on between dawn and sunset at all times.

Kayaking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have serious legal consequences. An officer is permitted at any time to request that you take a blood alcohol test. Depending on how many times you had been charged with Boating While Intoxicated (BWI), you can be fined $3000 and face up to ninety days in prison.

Once you’ve checked off all the legal requirements, many wonderful kayaking places await you!  Siloam Springs Kayak Park is one of the most popular destinations for whitewater kayaking. There are also numerous other family activities, such as rock climbing, swimming pools, and hiking.

Cane Creek State Park Kayak Trail is perfect for those just starting kayaking. There are options to rent one, or two-person kayaks, and the breathtaking trips are available in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings and with a lot of exciting wildlife to see along the way!

Do You Need Permits To Kayak In Arkansas?

Vessels that are not powered by engines do not need to be registered. Any boat driven by sail or motor (including trolling motors) must be registered when operating on public waterways. To operate a watercraft on Arkansas’ public waterways, you must obtain an Arkansas Certificate of Number (registration) and validation stickers.

As for licensure, To drive a motorboat or sailboat (if you install a sail on your kayak, this qualifies), anybody born after January 1, 1986, must have completed an authorized Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) Boating Education Course.

A kid twelve years of age or older must meet the boating education requirement and be under the direct supervision of someone at least eighteen years old when operating a watercraft with an engine of ten horsepower or more. 

Do You Need Life Jackets To Kayak In Arkansas?

All people on board must have a life jacket (also known as a personal flotation device or PFD). On any vessel, children under the age of twelve must wear a life jacket that is firmly attached. All life jackets must be authorized by the United States Coast Guard, be in good working order, and be the correct size for the person wearing them.

If you forget to bring your life jacket, Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Buffalo Point Ranger Station, and Steel Creek Visitor Contact Station have life jackets available to rent. Life jackets are available in a range of sizes, from newborns to large adults.

Do You Need Lights On Your Kayak In Arkansas?

All motorboats must have enough illumination to alert other vessels of their presence and location. During seasons of limited visibility, they must be visible between dawn and sunset.

The federal government manages several lakes and rivers in Arkansas. The following rules apply to paddled, poled, or rowed sailboats or vessels in federal waters.

Red and green sidelights should be visible from two miles away if the watercraft is less than twenty-three feet long. If it’s not practicable, you should keep at least one white-lighting lantern or flashlight on hand.

Arkansas Kayaking: Registration Requirements

The applicant must submit proof that the HIN conforms with federal legislation when renewing a watercraft or filing for registration for a freshly bought new or used motorboat.

A readable pencil rubbing or a legibly printed image of the HIN might be used as proof. Put a piece of white paper over the HIN and use it as a stencil until the number is clearly visible.

The bill of sale must have a clear description of the boat, including the hull identification number, year, manufacture, and horsepower, as well as the sale price; Both the buyer and the seller must have signed it. If a trailer is present, it should be itemized on the bill of sale or its sale bill for sales tax reasons.

Registration rates for motorboats under sixteen feet long are $7.50, while registration fees for vessels sixteen feet to less than twenty-six feet long are $15. The registration is valid for three years.

Is Alcohol Permitted When Kayaking in Arkansas?

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) rules have been adopted in Arkansas, and they are pretty stringent. If your blood alcohol level has a higher value than 0.08 percent, or you’re under twenty-one and have a BAL of 0.02 percent or more, you’re deemed inebriated in Arkansas.

Motorboats, other vessels, and the manipulation of water skis are all covered under Arkansas BWI statutes.

You’re under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the point that your responses, motor abilities, and judgment are significantly impaired, and you’re putting yourself or others in danger of physical harm or death.

Even if your BAL is less than the legal limit, it’s up to the individual officer to decide whether you’re inebriated.

If you get a first offense, you might lose your driver’s license for six months. You might also face a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in prison. A second conviction might result in losing your driver’s license for twenty-four months, a fine of up to $3,000, and a sentence of seven days to one year in prison.

You might lose your driver’s license for thirty months, be fined up to $5,000, and be imprisoned for a minimum of ninety days to one year if you acquire a third conviction.

What Are Good Kayaking Spots In Arkansas?

Siloam Springs Kayak Park has quickly become a popular destination for whitewater kayakers from all around the region. The river provides kayakers with successive whitewater rapids and standing waves.

Helmets, life jackets, and closed-toed shoes are all strongly advised. The park’s other features include a swimming pool, a climbing boulder, accessible walking routes, picnic tables, a change station, and two rain gardens. 

If you’re new to kayaking, the Cane Creek State Park Kayak Trail is a great place to start. The park hires solo and tandem kayaks at a low cost to its visitors and offers guided kayak trips and instruction for the whole family. The trips are accessible in the afternoon, at sunset, and even at night when the moon is full.

Beautiful cypress trees, lovely water lilies, and a variety of creatures, including majestic eagles and white-tailed deer, as well as ducks, woodpeckers, beavers, and songbirds, can be seen while enjoying the natural Arkansas beauty.

Safety Requirements When Kayaking in Arkansas

For the sake of public safety, glass containers are not permitted in caves, on trails, or waterways within a proximity of 100 feet of any river or stream, except at approved campgrounds, picnic places, or in automobiles on specified roads and parking spaces.

A closeable mesh litter bag must be connected to all canoes, kayaks, tubes, rafts, and other watercraft that are highly susceptible to swamping, tipping or rolling. All garbage must be disposed of safely and legally.

Food and beverages must be transported in a sealed cooler or container that prevents the contents from leaking into the river while aboard a river craft.

Furthermore, any drinking containers that are not securely enclosed in a sealed cooler or mesh trash bag must be held in a holder that can float and that prevents them from sinking beneath the water’s surface.

Most importantly, wear a life jacket because they save lives. Are you wearing a life jacket so that you can assist your child if they fall into the river?

Is it possible for you to swim quickly enough, maybe against the tide, to reach them in time? In as little as twenty seconds, a kid can drown. Wearing a life jacket can give you enough time to go to someone’s rescue.

Remember that this is nature; even the most experienced swimmers may get into danger, and rivers are not your backyard pool. The river’s uneven bottom and debris can make firm footing difficult, resulting in mishaps. Life jackets are not inflatable toys, armbands, loungers, or swim noodles.

When playing in or near water, children should always wear life jackets. In addition, anyone who desires to take a swim should never do it alone; always swim with a friend. Finally, diving is hazardous owing to the uneven ground of rivers, therefore avoid it.

What Is The Minimum Age For Arkansas Kayaking?

Children aged twelve to fifteen may operate a personal watercraft if accompanied by an adult aged 18 or older who can take control of the vessel. A child under twelve may operate a personal watercraft provided an adult aged twenty-one or older is present and willing to take charge.

If they were born in 1986 or later, the older passengers must have a valid boating certificate.

The Game and Fish Commission offers several options for obtaining a boating certificate. One option is to enroll in a class taught by a professional. It entails going to class for a couple of hours each evening for three or four weeks. You can also finish the classes by attending all of them on Saturday.

Boater safety classes are also available online, or you may obtain a DVD or video through the Game and Fish Commission. You can take an online exam after watching the video or doing the online course. It will set you back $15. A free practice exam is available.

Where Can You Rent A Kayak Arkansas?

Buffalo River Float Service, an authorized concessionaire of the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, provides a variety of rental choices. They provide canoeing, kayaking, rafting, tubing, rentals, and shuttle services. These float tours can run anywhere from a half-day to ten days, depending on your convenience and preferences.

These service providers also give guided fishing trips and beautiful tours, ideal for families with children. There are various sand bars along the bank where you may picnic, as well as many turtles. This Float service is guaranteed to be a hit with the kids. It’s ideal for a day out.

Little Red River Outfitters is most known for fishing, but they also offer a variety of other water activities that are hard to pass up if you’re in the area. It’s a year-round stream that’s perfect for kayaking or canoeing. However, verify the water levels before going because it is dependent on the dam release.

For a pleasant stay, there are various restaurants, campers, and resorts in the area. Paddlers and sport fishers would benefit significantly from their fishing guiding services and equipment shops. If you wish to invite relatives or friends, here is the place to go.

Caddo Valley, located in Glenwood, is a hidden gem for anyone searching for a stress-free lengthy stay while enjoying the best Kayaking in Arkansas. They hire tubes, kayaks, and canoes, but their yurt serves as a handy check-in alternative.

The carpenters are considered experts of their art by the majority of those who have rated their stay! All floating activities have found a home in the valley, and shuttle services are available. You can find your serenity and keep it thrilling along the road, whether you’re a beginner paddler or a Class one or two floaters.


Remember to have your watercraft registered if an engine powers it, and always wear a life jacket to avoid any accidents. If you bring along food and beverages, ensure that they come in the proper packaging.