The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
Arkansas City Gage (AG)
We will now switch over to the Arkansas City Gage (AG) for this section downstream of Rosedale. The Arkansas City Gage gage is located 24 miles downstream of the mouth of the Arkansas River at mile 554.
Low Water = -13 to 13 AG
Medium Water = 14 to 29 AG
High Water = 29 to 36 AG
Flood Stage = 37 AG and above
LBD 591 – 587 Great River Road State Park
(Note: closed since the 2011 Flood, but supposed to reopen in 2012). There are hot showers and other camper conveniences at Great River State Park, but be aware that the park is built for vehicle access, not river access. This is not a good place to put-in or take-out unless the river level is just right, around 30-35 AG. Even at high water levels, when the river is running close to the edge of the park, you will have to portage your canoe (or hide it and lug your gear) to reach the campsites. At high water this portage might be several hundred yards, but at low water you would have to cross one mile of loose sand to reach the park. Not a good idea unless you like self-torture. If you need some cleanup and personal hygiene you might as well make camp close to the river’s edge somewhere along the bottom end of the sandbar and then walk in for showers. A five-story tower was built at the park with good views of the river upstream and down, but in recent years it has been closed due to disrepair. The 2011 flood was not kind to the park, but recent news reports say that it will be rebuilt and remain open. Call State Park for the latest information at (662)759-6762.
For the paddler seeking a good campsite, the river side of Great River Road State Park never closes, because primitive camping is found along a series of bluffs at the bottom end of the Terrene Sandbar in between mile 592 and 593. There you will find the elements of the ideal campsite: easy access, protection, and good views. At low water you might have to climb a steep bank to reach flat sites, but as the water rises access gets easier, above 13AG you will be able to pull into one of many charming inlets that form in between the sandy bluffs. These inlets become flowing channels above 23AG but good camping is still to be had until the water gets to 33AG, when you will be best advised to continue downstream to the Arkansas Bar for dry camping.
LBD 587 to 584.5 Malone Field (Barge Fleeting Area)
Most of the force of the river gets pushed out towards Big Island around the Terrene Dikes and a long slow-water area is found left bank descending below Great River Road State, sometimes pooling completely. A large eddy often forms near the last point LBD at mile 587 and the water pools below. If you have made a stop on the tallest bluffs bottom end of the above when you are ready to return to the river inspect the channel below and watch carefully downstream as you pull out. Large tows pull up to the bank in this area for fleeting services out of the Rosedale Harbor, and then pull back out into the river. You will see tows in places you don’t usually see them, and there is no schedule to their activity. They run when they are packed completely with barges and then take off. Best practice: listen to VHF channel 13. Tow pilots will announce their intentions before pulling out. When the coast is clear paddle hard from the Mississippi shore and head over towards Big Island RBD and make you travel down the right side of the channel. Not only will you will be the furthest away from any tow activity, but you will also enjoy the fastest current.
LBD 584.5 Mouth of the Rosedale Harbor
The best boat ramp in the area is found two miles up the Rosedale Harbor. Better maintained and easier access than Terrene landing. Possibly re-supply point. Its a 2 mile hike to reach the town of Rosedale for food & water. Safest parking of any boat ramp in the area, but there is no guarantee. As with all boat ramps along the Lower Mississippi River its best to arrange a shuttle if you are doing anything longer than a day trip. [CLICK HERE: for shuttling options].
The entrance to the harbor is found deep within Rosedale Bend. The Mouth of the harbor will be near impossible to discern from the surrounding left bank descending as you approach from above. Look for small tows leaving & entering. If you are intending to enter the harbor approach bank left as you pass mile 585 and float along one to two hundred yards off shore until you see it and then paddle on in using the eddy to your advantage. (Note: this is a balancing act for paddlers: if you stay too close to shore you will be paddling deadwater. If you stay in the fast water too far off shore you will miss the entrance!). A fluctuating eddy is found at the mouth of the harbor, circulating counterclockwise from bird’s-eye-view. [CLICK HERE: using the eddy to your advantage].