Multimillion-Dollar Whitewater Paddling Park Closer to Reality, Not Far from Springfield


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A section of the Illinois River near Siloam Springs, Arkansas, is on track to be turned into a whitewater paddling park — funded largely by the Walton Family Foundation.

The park, once completed, will be about 2.5 hours southwest of Springfield and just across the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, about four miles from Siloam Springs.

Missouri, renowned for its paddling streams and rivers, has no purpose-built whitewater paddling parks.

As envisioned, the park will provide paddlers a series of whitewater rapids built with native river stone to funnel a section of the river into a 1,000-foot curved side channel with seven or more challenging drops. The course could be used by canoe and kayak paddlers and people on inner tubes and rafts.

It’s planned to be built near an old dam, which in years past backed up water to create  Lake Frances, where Siloam Springs got its water.

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