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Summer may be fleeting, but there is still time for adventure. If you’re a water enthusiast like my family, Arkansas is the place to be! With its stunning lakes and meandering rivers, Arkansas offers a treasure trove of exciting water sports activities that will make your summer unforgettable.
My family can’t get enough of the water. There’s something magical about the feeling of the sun on your skin, the cool breeze in your hair and the thrill of gliding across the water’s surface. Greers Ferry is our lake of choice for paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkeling, but there are countless lakes, rivers and plenty of water adventures to try across the state.
Today we’re going to dive into several water sports options available. So, grab your swimwear, dust off your paddles and prepare for an adventure like no other. Arkansas water sports are waiting for you!
When it comes to canoeing, kayaking and tubing in Arkansas, you’re in for a treat! The state boasts some of the most breathtaking rivers and scenic routes that will leave you in awe. One of the must-visit destinations is the Buffalo National River, a true gem for water enthusiasts that offers gentle rapids through turquoise waters, surrounded by towering limestone bluffs and lush forests. Another fantastic option is the Mulberry River, known for its thrilling whitewater stretches and peaceful floating spots. And if you’re up for a lazy river adventure, grab a tube and head to the Spring River or the Caddo River, where you can float along and soak up the sun or head to one of Arkansas’s Water Trails for an off-the-beaten-path experience on Arkansas’s picturesque waterways!
Photo by Julie Kohl.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become incredibly popular, and it’s no wonder why. It’s a fantastic way to stay fit, have fun, and enjoy the serenity of the water. I’ve been SUPing for over eight years, and thankfully, Arkansas offers some incredible locations for paddleboarding, making it a perfect destination for beginners and experienced enthusiasts. A bit like walking on water, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding gives you a unique view of the water and certainly turns some heads. Even after eight years, I regularly have people ask me about what I am doing. For a unique experience, head to Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs or Fairfield Bay on Greers Ferry, both known for crystal-clear water and picturesque surroundings. Beaver Lake has also become a hot spot for paddle boarding thanks to Eureka Outfitters, but the joy of paddle boarding is that it can be done almost anywhere.
Arkansas may not be on your list when planning a whitewater rafting trip, but it should be. The Cossatot River near Wickes offers thrilling rapids to get your heart racing. With its challenging Class III and IV rapids, the Cossatot River is a dream come true for experienced rafters seeking an exhilarating ride. The water levels vary by season, and no outfitters currently offer tours in the area, but you can bring your own kayaking equipment. Information regarding water conditions is usually available through Arkansas State Parks or by visiting American Whitewater.
If you’re looking for an incredible family-style whitewater rafting experience in Arkansas, head to the Mulberry River. Nestled amid the stunning Ozark Mountains, this river offers a thrilling ride through its Class I and Class II rapids. The Mulberry River is known for its challenging yet rewarding stretches, with exhilarating drops and twists that will keep you on your toes. Two and four-person rafts and tours are available through several local outfitters like Byrd’s Adventure Center and Turner Bend Mulberry River Outfitters in Ozark.
When it comes to underwater exploration, Arkansas offers some surprisingly fantastic opportunities for snorkeling. One popular location for snorkeling is at DeGray Lake Resort State Park, where you can dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover aquatic life, including harmless freshwater jellyfish. Kids especially love snorkeling and exploring vibrant underwater worlds. Best of all, you don’t need fancy equipment or a lot of experience. Just grab some snorkel gear from your local Walmart and head to your local lake, river or stream for a unique view of Arkansas.
You might be surprised to learn that Arkansas offers some unique opportunities for underwater exploration when it comes to scuba diving. Beaver Lake, known for its clear waters and fascinating underwater attractions, is one of the top destinations for scuba diving in the state. The Beaver Lake Dive Park offers a line to discover a range of sunken attractions, including an airplane fuselage, a mock submarine and a Volkswagen Beetle. In other areas of the lake, you can dive beneath the surface to discover submerged rock formations, sunken boats and abundant fish species.
Lake Ouachita and Greers Ferry Lake are also popular dive sites. With their crystal-clear visibility, divers can explore submerged forests, swim among freshwater springs, and encounter various aquatic creatures that call these lakes home.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline-fueled water adventure in Arkansas, look no further than water skiing. With its numerous lakes and reservoirs, the state offers the perfect playground for water skiing and wakeboarding enthusiasts. Cedar Creek Water Ski Park in Elkins is ideal for getting your feet wet and learning to waterski. They offer lessons and tournaments and are home to the University of Arkansas Waterski Club Team.
Whether you prefer the tranquility of paddleboarding, the excitement of navigating thrilling rapids, or the awe-inspiring beauty of crystal-clear waters, Arkansas offers a variety of water sports adventures to help you create memories and experience the joy of being one with the water.
Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism unless otherwise noted.
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