Kayaking the Cossatot with the River Way Up [VIDEO]


The Cossatot River, indian for Skull Crusher. Lots of area folks are familiar with the river, but not a lot of folks have seen it when the river is high and extreme kayakers come from all over to run these rapids.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the Cossatot:

The Cossatot River is an 89-mile-long (143 km)[1] river in the U.S. state Arkansas.

Cossatot comes from an Indian term which translates roughly to skull crusher. The Cossatot is known as a difficult (class II – IV+) whitewater stream to canoeists andkayakers and a section at Cossatot Falls in Howard County, Arkansas has been called “the most challenging section of whitewater between the Smokies and the Rockies,” though there are many more challenging runs in the state of Arkansas, such as Richland Creek, Crooked Creek or the Upper Buffalo (Hailstone run). An 11-mile (18-km) section including Cossatot Falls is designated as the Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. Cossatot Falls is a series of back-to-back class III-IV+ rapids that drops around 40 feet in 1/8 of a mile. Rapid names are Cossatosser (class II+), Eye Opener, B.M.F. (class III), Washing Machine (class IV+), Whiplash, (class III+), and Shoulderbone (class II), with Deer Camp Rapid (class III), Devil’s Hollow Rapid (class III+), and Devil’s Hollow Falls (class IV) located downstream of the Falls area. Zigzag (Class III) and the Esses (class III) are other notable rapids on the Cossatot, located above the Falls. Whitewater rapid classes vary depending on water level. At certain higher levels near flood state, almost all of the Cossatot Falls turn into one long rapid.

The Cossatot begins in the Ouachita Mountains southeast of Mena, Arkansas. The river flows through the Ouachita National Forest and then in a generally southerly direction until it empties into Gillham Lake. After exiting Gillham Lake the river becomes leisurely until it joins with the Little River at the site where it empties into Millwood Lake.

The World War II fleet oiler USS Cossatot (AO-77) is named after this river.

Camping sites are located near the Cossatot Falls area, and at the nearby Brushy Creek Recreation area.

The Cossatot is listed as a National Wild and Scenic River and an Arkansas Natural and Scenic River.


Video of kayaking the Cossatot River at 8+ feet from Lance Jones/Vimeo:

Cossatot River at 8+ feet from Lance Jones on Vimeo.

For those that have never used a Kayak, it can be awesome with the right preparation, and frustrating without some patience. We heard from Chris Cole at NatureSportCentral.com, and got permission to share a link to his comprehensive “BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KAYAKING“.


About Author

After more than 30 years with radio and TV stations, I decided to do my own thing by blogging. It affords me the ability to stay super involved in the community, but still, have plenty of time with my 3 new granddaughters and other local projects.

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