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Ouachita River

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General Information

Description - The Ouachita River's scenic beauty is due in part to the bluffs along the route. Though they are common sights in north Arkansas's Ozarks, these occurrences are few and far between in the Ouachita Mountain range.
Other features of the Ouachita River are its clear water, intriguing rock formations, and a canopy of overhanging trees. In its upper reaches, the dogwoods and redbuds which bloom in the spring make for an unmatched setting of beauty. With only sparse population along its banks, the river also offers a sense of solitude. The Ouachita's long, lazy pools and sparkling shoals make the river especially inviting for families wishing to pause for a swim and/or picnic along the way. Wildlife viewing is another distinct possibility on this river. Floaters report seeing beaver, deer, wild turkeys, and an assortment of wading birds.

Supplies can be obtained in Pencil Bluff, Mount Ida or more distant towns like Mena and Hot Springs. In addition to the Forest Service Campgrounds along the river, the Corps of Engineers has developed numerous camping sites on Lake Ouachita. Canoe rentals are available in Pencil Bluff.

Recreation - A major draw is its location within the Ouachita National Forest. The Forest Service provides campgrounds, picnic areas, and access points along the river and several of its tributaries. In addition, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission maintains several access areas along the stream. These developments attract not only experienced river travelers, but many people venturing out for their first trip in a canoe.

The Ouachita has been a favorite fishing spot among sportsmen for decades. Heavy stringers of small mouth and spotted bass come from the stream year-round, although the best angling for big bass (four-pounders are not uncommon) is usually during the cooler months from October through March. In the lower reaches just above Lake Ouachita, the spawning runs of white bass always attract large numbers of spring fishermen, and, as might be expected, this cool stream supports large numbers of green and longear sunfish. Anglers will also land an occasional walleye, largemouth bass, rock bass, catfish or bluegill. Wildlife viewing is another distinct possibility on this river. Floaters report seeing beaver, deer, wild turkeys, and an assortment of wading birds.

Climate - Arkansas has a temperate climate with the coldest temperatures near freezing during December, January and February. Daytime highs for these months usually reach 55 degrees F. Spring and fall temperatures are very mild with lows dipping to 44 degrees F and highs reaching 70 degrees F. July and August are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures reaching 90 degrees F. June and September average temperatures usually reach into the mid-eighties. Spring and winter months are the wettest of the year.

Location - The Ouachita River is located in the Ouachita National Forest of Arkansas. From its beginnings where two small creeks converge at the base of Rich Mountain in Polk County, the Ouachita River winds its way through the scenic Ouachita Mountains until it joins Lake Ouachita.

Major access points include the U.S. Hwy. 270 crossing, the Arkansas Hwy. 379 bridge, several county road crossings off Arkansas Hwy. 88, and a handful of Forest Service Campgrounds.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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More Information

Contact Information:
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, One Capitol Mall , Little Rock, AR, 72201, Phone: 501-682-7777, Fax: 501-682-2523

Additional Information:
Arkansas Rivers and Streams - Arkansas has numerous rivers and streams located throughout the state. We have information on 13 rivers, four creeks and one bayou.


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