Arkansas Waterway Laws

Laws for Canoes, Kayaks and Inner Tubes on Arkansas Waterways

Life Jackets
Every vessel must have one type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PDF) for each person on board. All life vests must be:

  • United States Coast Guard-approved,
  • in good and serviceable condition, and
  • of proper size

ARKANSAS LAW REQUIRES that children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG–approved PFD securely fastened to their persons at all times while on any vessel.

It is our recommendation for everyone to wear a USCG–approved PFD securely fastened, at all times.

Glass Containers Prohibited
No glass containers are allowed in canoes, kayaks, inner tubes or other vessels easily susceptible to swamping, tipping or rolling within the banks of Arkansas navigable waterways, except containers for substances prescribed by a licensed physician. However, people engaged in removing glass previously discarded by others and found within the banks of an Arkansas navigable waterway may not be charged with a violation for possessing that glass if it is being transported in a secure trash container.

Fasten Cooler Lids
All food and beverages in canoes, kayaks, inner tubes or other vessels easily susceptible to swamping, tipping, rolling must be contained in a sealable or lockable cooler or container that  prevents the contents from spilling in the water.

Attach and Use a Trash Container
All canoes, kayaks, inner tubes and other vessels easily susceptible to swamping, tipping or rolling carrying food or beverages must have an attached closeable trash container. The container must be of sturdy construction, or it may be a bag of mesh construction. All trash must be safely and lawfully disposed of. A container is not required for people traveling without foodstuffs or beverages.

Use a Floating Holder for Beverages
All beverages not securely contained in a cooler or litter bag must be held in a floating holder or other device designed to prevent it from sinking beneath the water’s surface.

Paddling Ethics

Share the Water
When approaching anglers or other paddlers, give them a wide berth and proceed quietly, so you don’t interfere with their recreations.

Paddling Safety

Rivers are ever-changing systems with inherent dangers. Here are some tips to help you safely enjoy your time on the water:

  • Never paddle alone.
  • Always file a float plan – tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Check weather forecasts.
  • Carry a map of the stream so you can find your location at any time.
  • Carry a hand-held Global Positioning System unit; it will help you pinpoint your position and how to get back to a launch site.
  • Wear protective footgear and carry drinking water, sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Plan your trip so that your paddling skills are equal to the water conditions.