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Laws for Canoes and Kayaks on Arkansas Waterways

Life Jackets
USCG approved wearable PFD (life jacket) graphic All vessels must have at least one United State Coast Guard-approved wearable PFD (life jacket) for each person on board. All life vests must be in good condition and of proper size

Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket, which must be securely fastened while on board any vessel.

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.

Glass container images 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

Respect Private Property
Please respect private property along navigable streams and avoid stopping on private property unless it is an emergency. Private property may be marked by fences, signs or purple paint. Keep noise levels low and plan your stops on public land.

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

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.

Arkansas Water Trails

The AGFC constantly offers new ways for people to enjoy the outdoors. Arkansas Water Trails is a watchable wildlife program setting up a network of float trips that are well mapped and offer a variety of information. Learn more at the Arkansas Water Trails web page.

For more information about paddle sports safety in Arkansas, please visit: