Paddle Boarding The Kings River Navigating the Gravel Beds in Arkansas

Paddler, Cindy, sitting on Kings River Arkansas gravel bar

Side Up to the Bar, The Gravel Bar That Is!

Gravel Bar Definition:

A bar in a river is an elevated region of sediment (such as sand or gravel) that has been deposited by the flow. Types of bars include mid-channel bars (also called braid bars and common in braided rivers), point bars (common in meandering rivers), and mouth bars (common in river deltas). The locations of bars are determined by the geometry of the river and the flow through it. Bars reflect sediment supply conditions, and can show where sediment supply rate is greater than the transport capacity. Source: Wikipedia – learn more here:

Graveler Definition:

Noun. Graveler (plural travelers). According to Wikipedia: 1. One who deals, sells or works with gravel. 2. A container filled with gravel or stones used as a filtration device. 3. Graveler is a rock and ground type Pokémon and part of the Pokémon Legends Game: Arceus Hisui Pokédex. Source: Wikipedia – learn more here:

Siding Up the Bar – Kings River in Eureka Springs Arkansas

The sun warms the rocks along the Kings River as it flows north. The Kings  flow north because its source is high up in the mountains to the South. Thousands of irregular shaped stones, smoothed by water and time line the Kings River bed and meet the beautiful green vegetation that creeps down to the gravel bars or the river itself. Expansive, low, beds of river rock form large bars on this 90 mile long river that runs from the Boston Mountains of Arkansas to Table Rock Lake near the Missouri border. I have been told the water temperature can fluctuate depending on whether the water level is up or down because the gravel bars bake in the sun and give their heat back to the river when the water rises. Siding up the bar takes on new meaning when paddling the Kings River.

When we think of traversing a river, most of us think of navigating the waterway in some kind of boat. Perhaps we picture a traditional canoe or modern kayak or perhaps a flash back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and his wooden raft, or perhaps the movie the Peanut Butter Falcon. Taking a paddle board on the Kings River not only provides the best view of the River runs north because then it provides you with a soft seat on the gravel bar and a more than adequate base for sleeping upon while camping on the river.

When we think of river rocks we most likely picture the well worn, polished and rounded stones that you would find on the shoreline of a Great Lake like Lake Superior. I am confident that there are also rivers whose banks and bellies are lined with the smooth round stones found in craft stores, labeled river rocks. The skipping stones on the Kings are irregular in shape. Some of the rocks are rectangular with more angular edges where they broke off larger rocks more recently  and some have more smooth edges from decades of bouncing along the river bed being polished by the water and the movement across the gravel bottom.  

The size of the gravel beds changes depending on the amount of rain the river is experiencing. The beds are slowly and constantly changing as the water moves pebbles and stone along the river bed. As the river bed diminishes in one area, stones and rocks from the gravel bar move on down the river as they tumble into the water. The song “Like a rolling stone” comes to mind but with the added twist of adding water to push it farther down the stream way from the source of the river.  During a heavy rain session lots of rock will be gathered as the water rushes by the gravel bars. The movement of more rock, created by heavier rains, is a bonus for keeping the river passable by watercraft.

River Energy

In most river valleys there is something, about the magnetic quality of the earth, that speaks to contentment. I first experienced this in Paradise, Montana on the St. Regis River and the Lewis and Clark Trail. Swimming in the St. Regis River simply made me feel happy and content; peaceful. After my trip I read an article in Mother Earth News about this phenomenon. The Author had experienced a similar feeling of Euphoria and wrote about her experience. I will see if I can find the article online and share a link here in the future. Since then I have come to realize that the energy in most wilderness river valleys feeds my soul.

Author John O’Donohue expresses the elegance and energy of the river in his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace.

“The river is a miracle of presence. Each place it flows through is the place it is. The river holds its elegance regardless of the places it flows through….It gives itself to the urgency of becoming but never at the cost of disowning its origin. It engages the world while belonging always secretly within its memory and still strives forward into the endless flow of emerging possibility. In the sublime and unnoticed artfulness of its presence, the wisdom of a river has much to teach us.” 

The personality of a river is always changing as it meanders and wanders through time and geography. The water of a river echos the pattern of our human story as the personality and lives of people, change as we journey through our lives. The spiritual aspects of a river connects with most people, even if they are not seeking a spiritual adventure, because of the delightful energy a river shares with us.

For some people their first river trip starts with a cooler of beer and a float down the river. Eventually many people realize their troubles float away and their mood becomes for energetic as they travel down the river. The conversation often goes like this, “I use to just think if the river as a place to drink and party and then I realized the river is a place where you don’t need to drink to enjoy a euphoric state. The less I drank, and the more I enjoyed the space nature was holding for me, the more energized I felt. “. Paddle boarding is a fabulous way to enjoy the river. You can float, you can stand, you can sit, you can attach a kayak seat, you can even lie down and watch the clouds and the trees go by as you float. Nature also comes to meet you offering up its secrets expressed by the flora and fauna that share the river with you.

What Type of Fin Should I Use on a River?

Paddle boarding shallow rivers, normally enjoyed in a flat bottom canoe or kayak, has its challenges if you do not swap out,  or modify, your paddle boards fin to one that is shorter than the standard fin which probably came with your paddle board.

The average touring fin is 8” or 9”. If you paddle board has the Screw in Fin Box you can find flexible fins for your board that are about 6” in height.  The screw in Fin Box has a channel with a US Standard Fin Box (US Box): of fin box uses a small screw which you screw into a square or rectangular plate that has been slid into a channel in the fin box.

Futures fins also makes what they call a keel fin. NRS also makes grass fins and white water fins for inflatable paddle boards and their commonly used US Fin Box.  The US Fin Box has a channel that is open on one end so that you can slide the fin in and is a common type of fin box. You then secure it by sliding a pin into a slot that rounds across the fin. The pin snaps into place on either side of the fin, securing it there. There is also a Saftey string attached to the pin. If you have an inflatable paddle board with this slide in US Fin Box, then I recommend purchasing an extra fin or two and modify them by cutting them down and reshaping them.  Carrying an extra fin along is always a good part of any safety plan. On a river trip, where you are paddling through the wilderness for several miles, I also recommend bringing at least one extra paddle for the trip.

DIY Modifying Paddle Board Fins for River Paddling

Our Recommended Paddle Boards and Gear on Amazon

Here are links to popular paddle boards and paddle boarding gear we use at Sea Dog Eco Tours. Some are on our wish list, some we use all the time. Follow are Amazon affiliate links. When you shop through our links it helps us buy more paddle boarding gear on our wish list because Amazon shares a very small percentage with us and it does not effect your price at all! Thank you for using our links when ever you shop on Amazon. Once you use a link your purchases for the next 24 hours may help us out too!

Paddle Boards

The Skatinger Paddle Board

Paddle Board Fins:

The Vamo River Fin 3” for traditional Fin Box
The Vamo River Fin 6.5” for traditional Fin Box

The Ledonne Fin Twin Pack for US Fin Box to cut down and modify

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *