COSSATOT RIVER STATE PARK-NATURAL AREA
This park-natural area stretches for 12 miles along the wild and scenic Cossatot River, Arkansas's premier whitewater experience renowned as the best whitewater float stream in mid-America. Located in southwest Arkansas south of Mena, the Cossatot forms Cossatot Falls, a rugged and rocky canyon that challenges the most experienced canoeists and kayakers with its Class IV and V rapids. When the water is high, the paddlers are here. This National Wild and Scenic River is a watershed basin with flow levels dependent on rainfall. After significant precipitation, the river level rises, allowing experienced paddlers the opportunity to test their skills in challenging Class IV and V whitewater. At the river's Cossatot Falls area, a rocky canyon with distinct ledges, the river drops 33 feet in elevation within 1/3 of a mile. Late winter to early spring is peak whitewater paddling season here. Class III-V whitewater is for experts only. Floatable river levels are usually limited to late-fall, winter and spring. For river stage information (in feet) from the Highway 246 access, call (870) 387-3141 or visit the U.S. Geological Survey website for Cossatot River real time data at: waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?07340300.
When the water level is normal, the river's rapids are usually considered Class II-III whitewater. Outdoor enthusiasts can swim, fish and float through riffles and small rapids, from pool to pool, as they relax and enjoy the Cossatot.
The park features a 15,000-square-foot visitor information/education center that is located on U.S. 278 east of Wickes where the highway crosses the Cossatot. The $2.7 million facility was funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas's Conservation Amendment. The center features a large exhibit gallery, two classroom/lab rooms, a wildlife viewing area, gift shop and park administrative offices. The theme of the Interpretive exhibits is ?The Cossatot: A River for All Seasons" and the focus is on the river's ecology. Three information kiosks provide visitors with general information about the Cossatot River, park and other parks and museums that comprise Arkansas's state parks system.