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1. Is there a fee for going through the locks?

No fees are charged to recreational vessels on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The cost of operating and maintaining the locks is funded with taxpayer dollars.

2. How long does it take to go through a lock?

The time is dependent upon a number of factors such as the number and type of boats wanting to lock through, the capacity of the lock, river conditions, the amount of rise/fall of the water at the lock and the speed at which the lockmaster raises/lowers the water. A single recreational vessel with an experienced crew going through a lock with only a few feet of rise/fall could lock through in 20-30 minutes. Since commercial vessels have priority over recreational vessels, a recreational boater may be delayed an hour or more.

3. What is the process for locking through?

The vessel captain must contact the lockmaster, either by marine radio or cell phone, in advance of a designated arrival at the lock and request lock through. Once approved by the lockmaster for entry into the lock, the vessel must enter the lock and tie to a floating bollard or mooring pin that is inset in the lock wall. The lockmaster will then close the gate and raise/lower the water in the lock. The vessel will rise and fall as the elevation of the water in the lock changes. When the elevation of the water inside the lock reaches the same elevation as the water on the other side of the exit gate, the lockmaster will open the gate and approve the vessel to exit the lock. For vessels that have no communications capability, there are other notification devices, such as pull chains, light signals, horns and sirens fixed to the lock wall.

4. How far, in miles, is it between marinas for fuel and supplies?

Dumas/Pendleton to Pine Bluff (Island Harbor) 49
Pine Bluff to Little Rock (LR Yacht Club) 60
Little Rock to Morrilton (Charlie’s Hidden Harbor) 47
Morrilton to Russellville/Dardanelle State Parks 30
Russellville/Dardanelle to Clarksville (Spadra) 22
Clarksville to Van Buren (Wildcat Marina) 70
Van Buren to Sallisaw (Applegate Cove Marina) 40
Sallisaw to Muskogee (Three Forks Harbor) 52

5. How long does it take to reach Little Rock, the Mississippi River, and New Orleans from Muskogee?

Travel time is dependent upon boat speed, river conditions and lock delays. Mileage from Muskogee to Little Rock is 261, Muskogee to the Mississippi River is 392 and Muskogee to New Orleans is 992. There are 15 locks between Muskogee and the Mississippi River (Lock numbers run consecutively except number 11 is omitted). With all these variables, travel time can vary significantly.

6. What is the clearance under the bridges on the McClellan-Kerr Waterway?

Clearances vary, depending on the fixed elevation of the bridge and the variable elevation of the water. At normal river elevation, clearances vary from 52 to 73 feet. All bridges have clearance gages installed on the pier protection cells or the navigation span pier located on the right side of the channel. The gages indicate the vertical clearance under the bridge. For planning purposes, information specific to each bridge can be found in the Navigation Charts for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa and Little Rock Districts.

7. Where can you obtain the Navigation Charts for the McClellan-Kerr Waterway?

Navigation Charts may be obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa and Little Rock Districts,, Tulsa District Navigation Office – 918.669.7366; Little Rock District Navigation Office –501.324.5551.

8. Is there a minimum size boat that is safe to travel on the waterway?

There are no minimum size restrictions for boats on the McClellan-Kerr Waterway. Canoes, kayaks, dinghies, PWCs, fishing boats, etc., can all travel the waterway. Safe travel on the waterway depends on a number of factors including experience, knowledge and river conditions. A knowledgeable boater with an awareness of his/her personal abilities and limitations, the boat’s performance characteristics and limitations and river/weather conditions can safely travel the inland waterway system.

9. What is the width and depth of the McClellan-Kerr Waterway?

The actual width of the waterway varies from one stretch to another. Kerr Lake and Lake Dardanelle are large bodies of water several miles across in places. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a navigation channel width of 300 feet on the White River, Arkansas Post Canal and Lake Langhofer, 250 feet on the Arkansas River, 150 feet on the Verdigris River and 225 feet on San Bois Creek. Within the navigation channel, depths are maintained at 9 feet throughout the Navigation System. The navigation channel is marked by buoys, maintained by the U. S. Coast Guard or indicated in the Navigation Charts.

10. What size boat can be maneuvered in the Arkansas River?

The Arkansas River has sufficient channel width to accommodate most any size recreational vessel.

11. What size boat can be maneuvered in Three Forks Harbor?

The harbor is 500-feet wide and 1700-feet long and is sufficient in size to accommodate most any recreational vessel; however, the entrance channel is only 50-feet wide.

12. How is navigating on the McClellan-Kerr different than navigating in one of the lakes in Oklahoma or Arkansas?

One big difference is that recreational vessels on the McClellan-Kerr Waterway may encounter barge traffic and, therefore, boaters should be well versed in waterway protocol. Also, boaters on the McClellan-Kerr may encounter river flows that are, at times, unsafe. While the normal river flows in the waterway are not that much different than in the lake, high water events resulting from heavy rainfall over extended periods of time may produce significant flows that are unsafe.