The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Arkansas City Gage 

We will switch over to the Arkansas City Gage (AG) for this section of river.   This gage is located 24 miles downstream of the mouth of the Arkansas River at mile 554, and has been fixed approximately seven feet below the Helena Gage.


Low Water = -13 to 13 AG

Medium Water = 14 to 29 AG

High Water = 29 to 36 AG

Flood Stage = 37 AG and above


Paddling down to the Mouth of the Arkansas River 

For better understanding of the immensity of this river wonderland while reading the below, go to a map I created on Google Earth: [CLICK HERE: Map of Mouth of the Arkansas River].  Make sure you’re looking at the Satellite View and for extra effect click Earth.


You are entering one of the wildest places in North America — and not because its so quiet, or so remote.  Actually there is a lot of activity here from the nearby Rosedale Harbor, and from all of the hunters and fishermen that frequent the area.  Indeed it’s not the absence of humans here or lack of human activity that makes it feel wild.   Instead it’s wildness comes from the meeting of two great rivers, the Mississippi and the Arkansas, and the dynamic shifty landscape created at their junction.  The last 40 miles of the Lower Arkansas Valley is so flat and flood-prone — and the river waters so unpredictable — that the Army Corps never tried to make it navigable, but instead created access through the White River and Arkansas Post Canal (see previous section).  As result the Lower Arkansas runs untamed as a young tiger as it approaches the big mother river the Mississippi.


Paddlers have many outstanding options as they come downstream of the Great River Road State Park (or leave out of the Rosedale Harbor) and approach the Arkansas Bar.   1) Main Channel: the first choice of course is to stay in the main channel and enjoy the confluence of the Great Rivers as you glide by, the channel opening up so completely wide you feel like you are paddling out of a river delta into the ocean.  2) Omaha & Quapaw (Up and Down): The second choice is to paddle upstream the Arkansas River from the confluence a few hundred yards to the bottom of Big Island, or a few miles to one of the beaches on Cat Island, and then turn around and paddle back out.   3) Island Hopping: Third choice is to run behind several of the many splinter islands crowding the confluence, jump into the Arkansas, and paddle down out of the Arkansas to rejoin the big river.  4)  Circumnavigation of Big Island: 4th choice would be a complete circumnavigation of Big Island, which would be a challenging week-long expedition in of itself.  It might take upwards of 3 days to get up the Arkansas, one day for the portage to the White, One day down the White back to the Mississippi, and one day on the Mississippi.  Add two days for exploration, bad weather, and unforeseen circumstances.


RBD 585-580 Arkansas Bar

The best camping in this section of river is found along the Arkansas Bar which parallels the main channel for five miles (at low water) as the river swings out into and then through Rosedale Bend.  Arkansas Bar ends at the mouth of the Arkansas River.  At low water fascinating campsites can be made amongst the piles of debris and giant snag fields littering the mouth of the Arkansas River.  Beware rising waters!   Bears frequent this area and bald eagles are often seen.  Popular fishing area.  As the water rises above 0 AG (Arkansas City Gage) this sandbar diminishes significantly, only a sliver remains at 5AG and then dwindles completely above 10 AG and no camping will be found.  If you intend to camp on the Arkansas Bar above low water, you must search for it along the giant sandbar at its top end.


At medium water endless beaches and expanses of sand are found at the top end of the bar from 585 to 582.  At high water the only sand is found on the broad plateau of high ground found center island near mile 583.  Entire bar goes under at flood stage.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous September 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Seen lots of Black Bears on Big Island!

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
St. Francis to Helena
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
671 – 673 LBD St. Francis Bar
670 LBD St. Francis Dikes
669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes
668 RBD (A View Of) Crowley’s Ridge
668 – 663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)
665.5 LBD Trotter’s Pass
663 RBD Helena Harbor
Helena Boat Ramps  
663 RBD Helena-West Helena
Quapaw Canoe Company – Helena Outpost  
661 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 Yazoo Pass
Helena to Island 63
663 LBD Leaving Helena Harbor
Fleeted Barges  
Small Towns in Harbors  
Buoys and Other Stationary Objects  
Highlights of Civilizations  
Wild Miles  
Pollution Within the Helena Industrial Reach  
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 LBD Yazoo Pass
How to Get Into the Old Entrance of the Yazoo Pass  
LBD Alternate Route to Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass
Yazoo Pass Mileage  
Rivers & Robert Johnson  
656 LBD East Motezuma Bar
657 – 654 RBD Montezuma Towhead
654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing
Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale  
652 LBD Friars Point
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
Beavers on the Lower Mississippi River  
652.2 RBD Kangaroo Point
648 LBD Horseshoe
646 – 649 RBD Dewberry Island 61
646 – 642 Old Town Bend
641 – 635 LBD Island 62
640.5 – 637 LBD Island 63
640.5 LBD Entrance to Top End of Island 63 Chute
637.5 LBD Entrance Into Bottom End of Island 63 Chute
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Island 63 to Hurricane
Muddy Waters Wilderness  
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Old Levee at Quapaw  
Levee Break Below Quapaw Landing  
Great Flood of 2011  
637.5 LBD Island 63 Chute
636 LBD Burke’s Point
The Flanking Maneuver  
634 RBD Modoc Old River Lake
632 LBD Robson Towhead
632.5 RBD Fair Landing
Jackson Cutoff  
Sunflower Cutoff  
625.6 RBD Mouth of the Mellwood Lake
624 – 627 LBD Sunflower Dikes
Diving Duck  
624.5 LBD Mouth of De Soto Lake
621 – 624 LBD Jug Harris Towhead
620.8 RBD Mouth of the Chute of Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 67
619.6 BD Wood Cottage
620 – 617 RBD Old Levee at Knowlton
616 LBD Knowlton Crevasse
619 – 609 RBD Island 69
615.5 RBD Island 69 Old Back Channel
616 – 614 LBD Cession’s Towhead
610 LBD Hurricane Pint (Dennis Landing)
Hurricane to Rosedale
605 – 610 LBD Island 70
The River Mirage Effect  
604 – 601 LBD Henrico Sandbar
603 – 597 Scrubgrass Bend
601.5 – 598 LBD Smith Point Sandbar
600.5 LBD Entrance
598 LBD Exit
Secret Channel Behind Smith Point Sandbar  
599 RBD Mouth of the White River
The White River  
Montgomery Point Lock & Dam  
At the Mouth of the White River  
How Does a Lock Work?  
Arkansas River: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Tulsa  
White River National Wildlife Refuge  
597.5 – 580 RBD Big Island
596 – 594 Victoria Bend
592.1 LBD Terrence Landing
597.5 RBD Entrance
591 LBD Exit
RBD Near Mile 3 of the Old Channel of the White  
Wreck of the Victor?  
Old Channel of the White  
Arkansas City Gage (AG)  
591 – 587 LBD Great River Road State Park
587 – 584.5 LBD Malone Field (Barge Fleeting Area)
594.5 LBD Mouth of the Rosedale Harbor
Rosedale Harbor  
Rosedale, Mississippi  
Rosedale to Arkansas City
Arkansas City Gage  
585 – 580 RBD Arkansas Bar
580 RBD Arkansas River
Paddling Past the Mouth of the Arkansas  
A Detour Up & Down the Arkansas  
Island Hopping  
The Floating Sensation  
Circumnavigation of the Big Island (52 Miles; 5-7 Days)  
Below the Arkansas Confluence  
581 – 576 LBD Prentiss Sandbar
578.4 RBD Napoleon Light
574.5 LBD Mouth of Lake Whittington
575.8 RBD Caulk Eddy
575 – 572.5 RBD Caulk Neck Bar
576 – 572 Caulk Neck Cutoff
572 – 567 Cypress Bend
Cypress Bend – Pallid Sturgeon  
571 – 567 Catfish Point Bar
568 RBD Chicot Landing
Reading Google Maps  
Approaching Choctaw Island  
Choctaw Island Geomorphology  
564 – 558 Chocktaw Bar Island
Note on Low-Water Camping  
Arkansas City Boat Ramp  
561.7 LBD Easton Landing – Mounds Boat Ramp
560.5 LBD Mounds Landing
Addendum: Take-Out in Greenville or Lake Village  
Best Campsites Along the Lower Mississippi Water Trail  
End of Trail  
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO