The Arkansas Whitewater Course

Arkansas canoers and kayakers have dreamed about a summer whitewater course for a long time. The Arkansas Whitewater Course will make this dream a reality. We've spent a great deal of time researching and planning the design of a world-class whitewater course. Please read on to find out more about our plans, or contact Bill Herring at for more details.

NEW! The Arkansas Whitewater Course in the News!

The Arkansas Whitewater course has recieved a good deal of recent press coverage, with a segment on Fayetteville's ABC affiliate, 40/29 and articles appearing in print in Arkansas Business, The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, The Morning News, The Southwest Times Record, and Get Out Magazine (click on the links to view articles). The course has also been discussed on the Channel 5 News Morning Show in Fayetteville/Fort Smith. We're generating a lot of interest lately - thanks to everyone for spreading the word!

Course Plan Images

Dave Irvin of Irvin and Zingre Architects in Kansas City has designed a 3-D model of the proposed course in Autocad. Click on the four images below to see the full size rendered images (about 350K each). It's the next best thing to being there! If you ever need building plans, Dave is the man!

This is the overhead plan view. Note the drop in rapids #1 - #3 is 10 feet, and it drops another 10 feet in rapids #4 - #7. Rapids #1, #2, and #3 feature play holes and class III type drops. Rapids #4 - #7 feature waves and small holes and are class II type rapids.
This is a bird's eye view looking toward the pumps. You can get a sense of the steepness of the upper section. Notice that kayaks (Dave says they are Dagger Centrifuges) are placed in the drops to give a sense of scale. It may help to refer back to this image when looking at the next two.
This is the view a boater would see sitting in the upper pump pool looking over the first drop. If it looks like a steep creek, it's because it sort of is! Only there are no undercuts or other major hazards and the pools are bigger than they look from here! The first horizon line is a 2-foot ledge into a hole. The second horizon is hard to see, but it is just after the first pool you can see below the first drop. It's a 2- to 3-foot plunge around both sides of the rock in the middle. Then the really turbulent looking drop below that that has the tall rock on the left is the #3 drop, a total drop of 5 feet through two wave/holes.
This is the view from below rapid #3 looking up at the steep, playboating part of the course. This shows the relative heights of the drops pretty well. It looks intimidating without being able to see the pools! Boaters who don't want to mess with the class III drops at the top can carry on a trail to where the red boat is parked. This provides a launch for the class II lower section.

Hope you've enjoyed the tour. Keep reading to find out more about the whitewater course plan!

The Course

We've conducted extensive research for the course, including studying other course designs around the world, contacting dozens of equipment vendors and engineers, discussing construction plans and costs with four engineering design firms and contractors, and a bunch of insurance options. The major problems associated with building a course are generating sufficient water flow, building the course "streambed", securing the land to build it on, securing liability insurance at an affordable price, and, of course, paying for all of the above. One by one, these hurdles have all been overcome.

It has taken a great deal of thought and time to come up with an optimal design. The design that is most promising includes the following features:

Can it work?

The existing course that most closely parallels the design of the proposed Arkansas Whitewater Course is the Nene Whitewater Centre in Northampton, U.K. ( The water flow in that course is pumped by three 35 cfs pumps powered by electric motors, for a maximum total flow of 105 cfs. The course has a total drop of about 15 feet over a distance of 900 feet and averages about 15 feet wide. The course is entirely lined with concrete and features concrete "rocks" (the biggest difference in our proposed design is the use of natural rock instead of concrete). The course features class II and III rapids. A flow of 70 cfs is released for kayakers to do retentive rodeo moves in one of several holes (the 2/3 flow creates more retentive holes). A flow of 105 cfs is released for commercial rafting on the course as well as for other kayak events such as racing and training. You can see lots of photos of the course on their web page at

The Nene Course clearly demonstrates that a whitewater course that supports kayaking and canoeing (training, racing, and playboating) and even whitewater rafting can be built with 100 cfs of pumped water and a 15 to 20 foot drop. Certainly many lessons can be learned from the Nene course, including the idea of putting the most difficult/continuous rapids at the top of the course, where beginners can put in below them.

How You Can Help

The primary way revenue will be generated to support the course will be through user fees. This revenue will depend on the number of users per day the course will attract. There is a need for hard evidence to show there will be a sufficient revenue stream to pay for the course expenses and make a significant profit.

That's where a survey can help. The best way to demonstrate the revenue potential of the Arkansas Whitewater Course to investors is to conduct a survey of potential users, and that is exactly what we're doing. You can help by filling out the online survey and submitting it to our database. The more surveys we collect, the more likely we are to be able to start building the course.

Every response is one step closer to our goal, so send in your survey, and spread the word about the Arkansas Whitewater Course.

Bill "Fish" Herring

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