Just 6 hours from Fort Worth, the White River in the Ozarks in Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri is an incredible natural playground, with so many fun things to do and see, including the incredible towns of Eureka Springs and Branson, Missouri! The White River offers beautiful, clear and cool lakes, some of the best trout fishing in the world, flanked by limestone cliffs and mountain hiking! Sit back and let me take you on a trip along the river to some of the best stops, then start planning your Ozark vacation!
We’re going to start with the headwaters of the White River, which starts in Northern Arkansas, and flows North into Missouri before heading back south.
Boston Mountains The waters of the White River start flowing here, and it’s an amazing drive for windshield tourist along I-49! For a different view, take Hwy 71 and the Boston Mountain Scenic Loop. Along this twisty route through the mountain, you’ll pass the lookout at Artist Point and Lake Fort Smith State Park. More than just a college town, Fayetteville offers great restaurants, shops and biking trails, and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Devil’s Den State Park is a must visit for amazing views and hiking trails, as well as a small lake for kayaking.
The White River begins flowing North from the Boston Mountains. It’s muddy waters offer some unremarkable fishing, boating and swimming opportunities until you reach Beaver Lake. Here in the limestone cliffs the waters clear up, giving way to good fishing, swimming and several recreation areas. Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, Arkansas’ largest state park, sits on the southern shores of the lake. A tour of War Eagle Cavern is not to be missed! There are several day use areas on the lake, many with good swim beaches. Plan to spend a few hours touring nearby Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a big cat rescue!
Leaving Beaver Lake, the waters of the White River run clear and cold beyond the dam! This is one of your first stops for amazing rainbow and brown trout fishing! Dam Site Lake Park offers camping sites and access to the river.
Eureka Springs, which boast an entire town on the National Registry of Historic Places, is a beautiful location with so much to do! Great shops, restaurants and adventure await you. Don’t miss dinner at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant!
The White River is now forming Table Rock Lake, as it crosses the Arkansas Missouri state line, and this is my favorite location on the river! Minutes from both Eureka Springs and Branson, and nearby Roaring River State Park, I think this is an ideal location to explore the region!
Roaring River State Park offers a campground, hiking trails, trout fishing along the river that is fed by the fish hatchery. It’s pretty amazing! Springs rush out of the ground from caverns, creating the river.
While these aren’t proper fishing shoes, sometimes you just pick your battles!
We rented this great VRBO, Martha’s View, on Table Rock Lake, and enjoyed the quiet seclusion, lake front home, but still minutes from so much to see and do. We had deer in the yard each morning, a huge plus for us!
There are so many great resorts and VRBOs on Table Rock Lake, which extends to the outskirts of Branson!
The White River is impounded here, and Table Rock State Park offers lake access, camping, hiking trails and much more! The water below the dam is some of the best for trout fishing, averaging a temperature of 48 degrees! Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery is located here.
Of course, Branson offers so much to do! The Silver Dollar City Amusement Park, the Titanic Museum, and fun and amazing shows, plus shopping and dining! My brother-in-law and family just spent a week at the Bass Pro Shop’s incredible Big Cedar Lodge and just absolutely loved it! The resort boast lake activities, as well as 5 golf courses and Top of the Rock, with spectacular views of the Ozarks!
After leaving Table Rock Lake, the wild White River is once again impounded to form Lake Taneycomo, There are many resorts and “trout docks” along the river for fishing.
Below Lake Taneycomo, the White River returns to Arkansas, where it is again impounded to create Bull Shoals Lake, the largest lake in the state! Bull Shoals White River State Park is known for their world-class trout fishing.
Beyond Bull Shoals, the White River runs wild again, leaving the Ozarks and offering sporadic recreation along it’s shores. Angler’s White River Resort offers easy rafting down the river.
Steamboats once made their way up the White River to Jacksonport, and a museum and Jacksonport State Park offer information on it’s history. The White River continues to twist and turn it’s way down, passing mostly forest, private land and some WMAs along the Mississippi River Delta until it merges with the mighty Mississippi just North of where the Arkansas and Mississippi River also merge. The Mississippi River is the state line between Arkansas and Mississippi. Between the two rivers, in Mississippi, lies the Great River Road State Park, a day use park that offers access to the river.
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