The Ozarks are full of amazing natural beauty that you won’t find anywhere else in the U.S. Lakes, rivers, forests, and prairies are just a few of the stunning ecosystems just waiting to be explored. Among these is the White River – a body of water with a long history in the heart of the Ozarks.
722 miles long, the White River starts in the Boston Mountains in northwest Arkansas in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, just south of Fayetteville, and flows through both Arkansas and Missouri. Once the river reaches Branson, Missouri, it becomes Lake Taneycomo (short for Taney County Missouri) and is held back by the Powersite Dam near Forsyth, MO. The Powersite Dam was the very first dam built along the White River in 1913, and the flow stems from Table Rock Lake. Downstream, it flows into Bull Shoals Lake and back into Arkansas, and from there, the White River meanders towards the mouth of the Mississippi river. More than 20,000 cubic feet per second of water is carried by the White River. There are 8 dams built along the White River; 2 of these dams are in Missouri, and the remaining 6 are located in Arkansas.
Along the lower part of the river, visitors can explore the White River National Wildlife Refuge. At more than 160,000 acres, this refuge in Arkansas is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Created in 1935, the White River National Wildlife Refuge provides a safe harbor to hundreds of different species, including the largest group of wintering mallards in the Mississippi Flyway. Bald Eagles, geese, black bears and the incredibly rare ivory-billed woodpecker also call the refuge home. With all the incredible flora and fauna, it is no wonder that this area on the White River is classified as a Wetland of International Importance.
With all the life that the river supports, it has become famous for its angling and fishing opportunities, especially trout, although white bass fishing is also common along the White River. You can find a number of fishing resorts on the riverbanks, all geared towards fishermen who come from far and wide to drop a line in the water.
The scenery along the White River is as picturesque as it comes, with thick forests, open green pastures and tall bluffs – perfect for the naturalist to explore and enjoy. There are numerous entry points along the White River for boating, floating and fishing – if you are an explorer at heart, take the opportunity to experience this beautiful river in the heart of the Ozarks!