Tell me about AR and LA paddling

Looks like early next week I’ll be heading to Hot Springs, AR for a few days. Figure I might as well take off a couple weeks and do some hiking/paddling while I’m down there. Never been to the south before so I’m looking forward to it.

I see lots of lakes (reservoirs), creeks, and rivers. Can anyone give me some specific places to look? I’m very interested in driving into Louisiana and paddling around in a swamp, the Atchafalaya looks fantastic. Is there anything similar a bit farther north in LA to save some driving?

What can I expect from the area this time of year? Looks like highs in the low 60’s is average but what about water conditions? Is stuff going to be high/low? Is it a very rainy season? Many bugs in winter? Assuming snakes/'gators won’t be much of an issue in the cooler weather? What else should I know about?

I’ll be taking my Bell Magic, Springer Spaniel, and Caravan set up with a cot in back. I’d prefer to paddle/hike out of the way places. No whitewater in my plans.

Just found out about it this morning so I’m just in the beginning stags of planning, but I’ve only got a few days to get ready.

Any advice much appreciated.


Arkansas Paddling…
If you want to paddle swamps…you can get that right here in AR, too.

Here some photos of some swamp trips in East Arkansas:

Because we have had a VERY wet year, most of the White River basin is still in flood…that is actually GREAT for swamp paddling as the bayous spread way into the surrounding bottomland forest. You MUST have a GPS and REALLY know how to use it, but the swamp paddling opportunities are numerous. We’ll be doing a swamp paddle this coming Saturday and have another one planned for next Saturday Dec 5th as well.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Buffalo River in Arkansas as well. Here’s photos from a trip we did just a couple weeks ago. Picture perfect weekend and we had the river all to ourselves. This section will be too low to paddle without more rain, but I believe some lower sections will still be running (even w/o more rain). The Buffalo is really a special river!

I don’t have personal experience with paddling Lake Ouachita, but it is a beautiful lake (and very close to Hot Springs).

Feel free to visit the message board at Arkansas Canoe Club ( for more trip ideas or company if you would want any while you are down here.

If you are interested in some of these off the beaten path swamp paddles, the folks at ACC can provide more detailed information. The wildlife viewing in the swamps is great!

Weather wise this time of year it could be warm or it could be cool - it is very variable. Chances are good it will be in the 50’s or even low 60’s, but that could shift higher OR lower. Not a lot lower, but you need to be prepared for some temp swings if you plan to be down here for a couple of weeks.

I hope you enjoy your time down here.


LA is wonderful
San Diego is even better

Added them to the research list.


You can keep them both.


Wow, Heather!
I’ve been close to otters several times (once this year) and never have I gotten a decent pic. Those are the best I’ve seen! Margaret and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Now time to head off to work. Take care. Terry

As Paddle Lupe said…
the premier paddling destination in the Arkansas Ozarks is the Buffalo. Lower sections below Highway 65 are class 1 and pretty easy paddling, with wonderful scenery and beautiful water.

Closer to Hot Springs, the Ouachita River above Lake Ouachita is pretty nice, mostly class 1. The Caddo River is somewhat similar. Several Ouachita Mountain streams have some pretty serious whitewater when they are running full, but the Caddo and Ouachita are flatter.