Arkansas River named National Water Trail

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that a portion of the Arkansas River in Kansas has been designated a National Water Trail by the National Park Service. It is an honor shared by the Kansas River – the first such trail named in the state.

The Arkansas River National Water Trail is 192 miles long, begins in Great Bend, Kansas and ends at the Kansas-Oklahoma border southeast of Arkansas City. It runs through widely varied prairie and woodland habitats and passes a number of cities along its course. Although the Arkansas River enters Kansas at the Colorado border west of Syracuse, it is frequently dry in the western part of the state.

Most streams and rivers in Kansas are privately owned, but the Arkansas River, Kansas River and the Missouri River are “navigable waters,” and are open to the public between the ordinary high water marks on each bank. When these rivers flow through private land, permission is needed from adjacent landowners to access the rivers. Currently, 22 access points have been developed along the Arkansas River in partnership with cities, counties and private landowners, providing access for recreational paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities.  .

“This designation is a tremendous honor for the people and communities who have worked for decades to build a foundation of respect for our Arkansas River. Our next steps will be focused on providing users with the information they need to enjoy all that our river has to offer. By engaging even more citizens through supporting responsible use of our water resources, the health and biodiversity of the Arkansas River ecosystem will only continue to improve,” said Jessica Mounts, who is leading the project at KDWPT.

For more information about river access in Kansas, visit and click on Activities, Rivers. Information about the National Water Trails System is located at