Cossatot River FR 31 to AR 278

Vandervoort, Arkansas

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The Cossatot River rises southeast of Mena, Arkansas, and is one of the most difficult whitewater streams in the state. The river originally flowed uninterrupted for 87 miles to its confluence with the Little River, but with the completion of Gillam Dam, it has now been broken into two sections. The upper section offers paddlers 22 miles, from AR 375 to AR 278. The Cossatot River State Park Natural Area now protects the section from AR 246 to AR 278, and this is where the shut-ins are located. The shut-ins are strictly for experienced whitewater paddlers who are comfortable on class III–IV rapids. Some say this is a river for decked boats only, but canoes filled with adequate flotation and experienced paddlers have successfully negotiated the Cossatot River. The landscape of the Cossatot departs dramatically from the typical Ozark stream as it cuts through topography that one might expect to find in the Western states. Stark-gray rock outcroppings are covered with pine trees as a result of many years of clear-cutting and replanting. The water quality is good due to protection of the watershed by the Ouachita National Forest and the Cossatot River State Park Natural Area.
A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Ozarks

DESCRIPTION FROM:

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Ozarks

by Tom Kennon (Menasha Ridge Press)

The Cossatot River rises southeast of Mena, Arkansas, and is one of the most difficult whitewater streams in the state. The river originally flowed uninterrupted for 87 miles to its confluence with the Little River, but with the completion of Gillam Dam, it has now been broken into two sections. The upper section offers paddlers 22 miles, from AR 375 to AR 278. The Cossatot River State Park Natural Area now protects the section from AR 246 to AR 278, and this is where the shut-ins are located. The shut-ins are strictly for experienced whitewater paddlers who are comfortable on class III–IV rapids.

Some say this is a river for decked boats only, but canoes filled with adequate flotation and experienced paddlers have successfully negotiated the Cossatot River. The landscape of the Cossatot departs dramatically from the typical Ozark stream as it cuts through topography that one might expect to find in the Western states. Stark-gray rock outcroppings are covered with pine trees as a result of many years of clear-cutting and replanting. The water quality is good due to protection of the watershed by the Ouachita National Forest and the Cossatot River State Park Natural Area.

©  Tom Kennon/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Vandervoort
Distance: 19.5
Duration: 4 sections range from 1.5 to 4.5 hours
Class: Class II-IV
Local Contacts: Cossatot River State Park Natural Area
Local Maps: USGS Eagle Mountain, Nichols Mountain, Baker Springs, Wickes
Driving Directions: Directions to Cossatot River: FR 31 to AR 278

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May 2018