Park & Recreation River Recreation
Sign In

River Recreation

​Wichita Park & 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 KayakRiver ToursBoatingFishing

River Status

Based on high and low tides, plus the flow rate, some days the river may be closed to public use for safety.


River Status

Based on high and low tides, plus the flow rate, some days the river may be closed to public use for safety.


Kayak ​​​Rentals

​Watson Park​​ | 3022 S. McLean Blvd.

Receive basic instruction on kayak paddling techniques and safety. Then, you're off for a leisurely float. Available on a first come, first serve basis. Waivers must be signed. Pre-registration not available.​ Must be 12+ to ride.

Kayak rental: $10/hour

Tandem Kayak rental: $20/hour

(available during business hours, visit for park hours)

Self-Service Kayak Rentals - Now Available!

 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 at

Wichita Park & 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+. Available during park hours.

Locations Kayak Rental
OJ Watson Park
3022 S McLean Blvd
$10 per hour
Kellogg Bridge
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​
How It Works

Kayak Clinic

Just go with the flow in this one-day kayak clinic at Watson Park! Participants receive instruction on kayak paddling techniques, maneuvering and water safety. End the day with a leisurely trip on the water around Watson Park.

Register online for Kayak Clinic

River Tours

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 1.00-1.25 hours. Advanced registration is required. Tours typically fill up fast so register early!

Floatin' on the River - Sunset Tour

Enjoy the glowing sky and 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.

View available tour times

Floatin' on the River - Sunrise Tour

Kayaks will launch just before twilight into the stillness of the morning and catch the glorious sunrise! Photos will be taken during the tour and at the Keeper of the Plains. The morning will end with a full breakfast on the patio of the Wichita Boathouse.

View available tour times

Floatin' on the River - Senior Tour

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.

View available tour times

Floatin' on the River - Glow Tour

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 ad light snacks afterwards. (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!)

View available tour times

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 & 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 & 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.


USGS Water Data for Kansas

The USGS investigates the occurrence, quantity, distribution and movement of surface and underground waters and disseminates the data to the public.

Visit USGS website


To save time, print off a waiver and have it completed before you arrive to Watson Park if you will be renting our kayaks.

Download waiver

​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, City of Wichita, and Kansas Wildlife and Parks are now working together to develop the 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.

Download the master plan

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.

Boating on the Arkansas River​

All boating activities are "at your risk". The City of Wichita and the Department of Park & 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 water craft in Kansas for lakes and other bodies of water? Visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism page here.

Boat Ramp

The boat ramp area is defined as the area between the Lewis Street Bridge and Kellogg Overpass Bridge. The boat ramp will be locked at 9:00pm. Unlawful use of the boat ramp is subject to penalty or prosecution.

Boat Trailers

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 allowed from a boat or bridge in the designated area.


No swimming allowed in the designated area.

​Fishing Within the City of Wichita

The waters in this pamphlet* have been opened to public fishing through the cooperative efforts between local governments and the Department of Wildlife and Parks. All state fishing regulations apply and, in addition, some waters may require special permits. Some lakes may also have restrictions on the hours they are open to angling and have more restrictive creel limits than state regulations**. There may be special length limitations in effect on these lakes, so read the signs at the park entrances.

Most of these waters receive biweekly stocking of channel catfish from April through September. Rainbow trout are released during the cooler months on a biweekly stocking schedule (October 15 through April 1) at KDOT East Lake and in Big Slough Creek. Most trout are harvested before water temperatures warm to lethal levels.

Many lakes are also stocked with wipers, a white bass/striped bass hybrid. These fish are stocked to provide trophy fish and to help control rough fish and panfish. Bass, crappie, and bluegill sustain their populations through natural reproduction. Additional species include carp, flathead catfish, drum, buffalo, and gizzard shard.

*Information taken from the "Fishing Guide to the Wichita Metro Area" brochure by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks.

**All public waters in the state have a minimum length limit of 15" on walleye and largemouth bass.

Wichita City Ordinances on Fishing

Fishing shall be permitted only in the following areas (excluding, of course, privately owned property within the generally described areas):

Little Arkansas River

Left and right banks (facing downstream) from Central Avenue to outflow into Arkansas River. Right bank (facing downstream) from Bitting Street to Forest Street.

Arkansas River

Left and right banks (facing downstream) within the city limits except the left bank (facing downstream) between Douglas Avenue and Lewis Street and the right bank (facing downstream) between Seneca Street and 500 feet south of Harry Street.

Measuring and Handling Fish

Fish length is measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail, with mouth closed and tail lobes pressed together.

Catch-and-Release: Most anglers release fish immediately if they feel they are just too small to take. Many anglers are strictly catch-and-release fisherman. In any of these cases, it is important to know the basics of fish handling to ensure that they will live to fight again.

First, the most difficult part: catch a fish. If it is obviously under any size limit, release the fish without lifting it into the boat or on the bank. To do this, grab the fish at the base of the tail (a cotton glove makes this easier.) Open the bail of your reel and set your rod down. Free the hook. If the fish has swallowed the hook. cut the line as close to the hook as possible. The hook will eventually rust away.

Fish will survive better if not played to exhaustion. If you must land a fish to measure it, use a net. Don't allow the fish to bounce around on the boat floor. This could injure the fish or remove the mucous coating which protects it from infection. Remove the fish from the net by gripping it gently but firmly around the gill plates and mid-section. Never touch the eyeballs or delicate gills. After removing the hook, wet your measuring board and measure the fish. If the fish is under the length limit or you just wish to release it, don't merely toss it back into the water. Release it gently. If it is slow to swim off, carefully move it back and forth, forcing water through its gills. This will aid the fish's revival.

Although some fish will be lost to hook injury, research has found this to be minimized if they are properly handled.

Remember these guidelines for handling fish.

  1. Wet hands and keep fish in water as much as possible when handling and removing the hook.
  2. Remove hook gently. Don't squeeze fish or put fingers into the gills.
  3. If deeply hooked, cut line. Don't pull hook out.
  4. Release fish only after its equilibrium is maintained. If necessary, hold fish gently upright and move it slowly back and forth in the water.
  5. Do not play fish to exhaustion.