Wichita Park and Recreation is activating the river with exciting river adventures and a whole new way to experience downtown Wichita! We offer a variety of ways to kayak on the river and at Watson Park from leisurely rentals to river tours.
Self-Service Kayak Rentals (closed until Spring)
Per the terms of the rental agreement that each user must sign prior to rental, the user is responsible for the cost of any missing or damaged equipment during their rental. To avoid any such charges, we recommend that users report any issues regarding lost or damaged equipment by emailing Rent.Fun.
Wichita Park and Recreation has partnered with Rent.Fun to offer a self-service kayak equipment rental service. Users scan a QR code on the cage to reserve and pay for a kayak rental for a specific amount of time at that location. All users must be 18 or older. Available during park hours.
|OJ Watson Park
3022 S McLean Boulevard
|$10 per hour
605 S Wichita (behind the building)
|$30 for 2 hours, then $15 per hour
|Riverside Tennis Center
551 Nims (east of the bubble)
|$30 for 2 hours, then $15 per hour
Floatin' on the River Tours
Available June through September
See the Keeper of the Plains and downtown skyline like you've never seen it before! Following a short kayak training, you'll set off on a leisurely paddling tour from the ramp just south of the Wichita Boathouse, to the Keeper of the Plains and back. No prior experience is necessary, however this is a strenuous activity, which lasts approximately 1 to 1.25 hours. Advanced registration is required. Tours typically fill up fast so register early!
Enjoy the glowing sky and the ever-changing colors of the sunset on this kayak tour! There's a brief stop for photos at the Keeper of the Plains and then it's back to the patio of the Wichita Boathouse to enjoy a barbeque dinner while relaxing to the sounds of soothing music.
Seniors 55+ will spend a little time learning kayaking basics and then set your course towards the Keeper of the Plains at a relaxed and easy pace. Not sure if you can make the return trip back? We've got you covered! The evening ends with a barbeque dinner on the patio of the Wichita Boathouse.
Enjoy a moonlight trip along the river with the stars shining overhead! You and the kayaks will be glowing with lights and glow sticks as you make your way to watch the lighting of the firepots at the Keeper of the Plains. Enjoy desserts and light snacks afterward. (Note: The lighting of the firepots is subject to mechanical or weather issues and is not guaranteed to occur, but it's fun when it does!)
Bring Your Own
Individuals are welcome to bring their own kayak on the Arkansas River and to Watson Park from sunrise to sunset. Wichita Park and Recreation requires you to sign a waiver when utilizing your own kayak at Watson Park. Check-in at the clubhouse before getting on the water at Watson Park.
Rules on the Water
- Individuals can only be on the water from sunrise to sunset.
- No motorized crafts are allowed without written consent from the Wichita Park and Recreation Director, Troy Houtman.
- Kansas law requires that children 12 years old and younger wear a life jacket while on board any vessel.
- Any occupant of a personal watercraft, regardless of age, must wear a life jacket. This includes both kayaks and SUPs.
Boating on the Arkansas River
All boating activities are "at your risk". The City of Wichita and the Department of Park and Recreation are not responsible for damages or injury caused or allegedly caused by boating activities on the Big Arkansas River. Please be aware that the river bottom is very shallow in many areas and boating should be done with extreme caution and only after a slow surveillance of the entire boating area by the boat operator prior to use.
Boating shall be confined to the center portion of the river. Need to register a motorized watercraft in Kansas for lakes and other bodies of water? Visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Non-motorized craft may operate within the area between the Lincoln Street Dam and the Amidon/Meridian Bridge. Do not proceed upriver from the Amidon/Meridian Bridge. The area near the 21st Street Bridge is hazardous.
Non-motorized craft must stay 50 feet away from the "Falls Area" at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers.
Maximum speed limit is 40 mph.
All Federal and State regulations pertaining to boats and equipment, boating activities, boating safety, and safety equipment are in effect for all watercraft operating within the designated area.
Upon a signal or request from an occupant of a duly marked police boat, a uniformed officer on the bank, or any duly appointed representative of the Department of Park and Recreation, all watercraft shall immediately dock at the nearest bank indicated.
All boats must stay 150 feet from the Lincoln Street Dam.
The boat ramp area is defined as the area between the Lewis Street Bridge and the Kellogg Overpass Bridge. The boat ramp will be locked at 9 pm. Unlawful use of the boat ramp is subject to penalty or prosecution.
Boats requiring trailers must use the designated boat ramp. Time spent on the ramp must be kept to a minimum. The ramp may not be used for boat repairs.
No person or organization shall operate any concession from within the designated area, which sells or rents boats or boat rides without written permission from the City of Wichita, Department of Park and Recreation.
No fishing is allowed from a boat or bridge in the designated area.
No swimming is allowed in the designated area.
Arkansas River Corridor Access Plan (ARCAP)
The Arkansas River Corridor Access Plan was formed by three counties, municipalities, public interests, and the state for a coordinated planning approach.
Public outreach efforts included a series of three public meetings along the river corridor where input and ideas were solicited. The result was the Arkansas River Corridor Access Plan.
The ARCAP will:
- Highlight the Arkansas River as a regional attraction and establish it as a "premier recreational amenity" for the state and the region
- Enhance and improve recreational opportunities along the river by providing a "general guideline" for future access point development along the river
- Provide economic benefits and opportunities to our city and region by improving quality of life
- Foster and increase awareness of our natural environment and improve educational opportunities related to wildlife and conservation
- Improve public safety along the river (more eyes and more responsible eyes watching out for illegal activity)
Sedgwick County, the City of Wichita, and Kansas Wildlife and Parks are now working together to develop a companion public safety plan to support the Arkansas River Plan. This plan will include coordinated law enforcement, fire and EMS access, way-finding signage, waste handling, boater safety, and public education.
The Arkansas River was awarded the distinction of being a "National Water Trail" by the National Park Service. ARCAP played an important role in this designation and checked many of the boxes required by NPS.