White River National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Recreation Information

Fishing on White River NWR.Credit: USFWS

Fishing on White River NWR. Credit: USFWS

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

The refuge system provides important opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.

Access and Vehicle Use

The maximum speed for any land vehicle is 25 mph. ATV’s are allowed only for wildlife dependent activities referencing (hunting and fishing). Refuge roads on the South Unit are open to vehicular traffic March 1 through December 15. All other refuge roads are open year round. A locked gate, road closed sign, or other barrier (i.e. mounded dirt) means the road is closed to all vehicle travel. Consult user permit brochure for areas closed.

All licensed vehicles must stay on gravel roads. On both the North and South Units, ATV’s may only be used on yellow marked trails and are only allowed for wildlife dependent hunting and fishing activities.  The trails are marked with high visibility yellow ink on trees.   An ATV is defined as a vehicle with a maximum tire pressure of 15psi, and a maximum dry weight of 1,550 lbs. All other non-licensed motorized vehicles are prohibited on the refuge. Personal watercraft (jet-ski, sea-do, wet bike) are prohibited on the refuge. ATV’s may not be left unattended overnight or stored on the refuge.

Boats, other than flat-bottomed johnboats 16 feet or less in length, with owner’s name and address permanently displayed or valid registration may be left on the refuge from March 1 to October 31.  All boats must be removed from the refuge November 1 thru February 28. Check your user permit brochure for regulations referencing specific dates and time.

The use of ATV’s on gravel roads is prohibited anywhere on the refuge unless signed otherwise. An ATV is defined as a vehicle with a maximum tire pressure of 15psi, and a maximum dry weight of 1,550 lbs. All other non-licensed motorized vehicles are prohibited on the refuge. Personal watercraft (jet-ski, sea-do, wet bike) are prohibited on the refuge.

The Mississippi River

For more information how to travel the Mississippi River, visit our partner's site: Experience the Mississippi River.



The Refuge is open for hunting of white-tailed deer, turkey, small game and waterfowl in designated areas.


Sport Fishing and Frogging

Fishing is permitted year round in LaGrue, Essex, Prairie, Scrubgrass and Brooks Bayous, Big Island Chute, Moon and Belknap Lakes next to Arkansas Highway 1, Indian Bay, the Arkansas Post Canal and adjacent drainage ditches, those borrow ditches located adjacent to the west bank of that portion of the White River Levee north of the Arkansas Power and Light Company powerline right-of-way, and all refuge owned waters located north of Arkansas Highway 1. All other refuge waters are open to sport fishing from March 1 through November 30 unless posted otherwise.

Frogging is permitted on all refuge owned waters open for sport fishing as follows: South Unit, frogging is permitted from the beginning of the state season through November 30; North Unit, frogging is permitted for the entire state season. The use of bow and arrow for taking bullfrogs or fish is permitted by Special Use Permit.



Camping on White River NWR.Credit: USFWS

Camping on White River NWR. Credit: USFWS

Camping is permitted year round on the North Unit (except the Kansas Lake Area and other areas listed on the map legend) and on the South Unit at Jacks Bay, Moon Lake, Hudson's Landing, and the Floodgate campgrounds. All remaining campgrounds on the South Unit are open for camping from March 1 through December 15, except until December 31 for Prairie Lakes and Smokehouse Hill Campgrounds.

Camping Regulations
  • No loud noise in campgrounds after 10:00 pm, including generators.
  • Camping is restricted to those individuals involved in wildlife dependent activities only.
  • Campers can stay no longer than 14 days during any 30 consecutive day period.
  • Campers must occupy site daily.
  • No fires are to be left unattended; fires are to be extinguished upon departure.
  • All trash must be removed from campsite upon departure.


Wildlife Observation Tips

Butterflies on White River NWR.Credit: USFWS

Butterflies on White River NWR. Credit: USFWS

  • Early morning, late afternoon
  • When the weather clears after a storm
  • Spring bird migration usually goes from mid-March through mid-May
  • Fall migration is from September through December 
  • There is an Observation Tower located at the Demonstration Area for Wildlife Observation and Wildlife Photography–except for periods November 1st –February 28th. The area is closed during this time for use as a waterfowl sanctuary.
  • You will see more animals if you are QUIET 
  • Be sure to listen for animal calls or songs, or try sitting down along the trail and waiting
Friendly Reminders:
  • Insect repellent
  • A raincoat
  • Your camera (don't forget extra batteries and a cloth to keep your lens clean)
  • Lunch to eat along the trail
  • Binoculars or spotting scopes are helpful for observing wildlife, and a good field guide will help you identify what you see
  • Vehicles are allowed on designated roads only
  • Foot traffic is also permitted year round on roads and trails, except for areas closed to all entry.


Upland Trail

The Upland Trail is a one mile paved loop trail that is handicap accessible. It offers interpretive panels and benches. No motorized vehicles are allowed and pets must be on a leash. The trail can be accessed from the parking area located off of Hwy One, or from the Visitor Center parking area. The trail is open all year during daylight hours.

Bottomland Hardwood Trail – The Bottomland Hardwood Trail is a 1.5 mile, mainly earthen loop trail, which majority can be accessible even when the White River Level at St. Charles is 28 feet.  The trail can be accessed from the parking area located behind the Visitor Center parking area.  The trail is open all year during daylight hours.   

Last updated: May 10, 2013