About the Refuge

About the Refuge

Extending along both banks of the lower White River, a tributary of the Mississippi River in southeastern Arkansas, White River Refuge was established September 5, 1935. Its purpose... to protect and conserve migratory birds and other wildlife resources of the region.

Today it is the largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forest in the Mississippi River Valley. Encompassing 160,000 acres it is the largest National Wildlife Refuge within the state. Its fertile forests and 300 lakes, interlaced with streams, sloughs, and bayous provide a haven for a myriad of native wildlife and migratory birds.

For complete information visit the official USFWS website for White River NWR.

Planning your Visit

Admission is free but a refuge user permit is required for hunting, fishing, camping, and ATV use. (Print our your Map and Permit here!)   

Ecological Significance

The refuge serves as the last safety net to support biological diversity for the Delta region. After generations of habitat loss through clear cutting and conversion of forest lands to agriculture, only 10% of Arkansas' original eight million acres of bottomland forest remain standing today.

Educational and Visitor Center 

A modern 10,000 square foot office and visitor center located off of Hwy. 1 in St. Charles, AR. The
facility houses an auditorium, environmental education classroom, and exhibit hall. The interpretive displays educate visitors about the human and ecological histories of the area, the hydrology of the White River, and the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem. The center of the exhibit hall houses two miniature theaters. One educates the visitor about the importance of flooding on the refuge. The other highlights nature at night. Inside this theater, the visitor experiences the refuge on a typical night. As the light dims, a narrator discusses the common sounds of nocturnal wildlife such as frogs, owls, insects, and fox. As each call is played, an image of the animal calling is back-lit on the theater wall.


There is a long history of hunting at White River NWR, which began in 1956 with the first archery
Refuge South Unit 
deer hunt. Five years later in 1961 the refuge held its first gun deer hunt. The refuge was one of the first tracts of public land in the southeastern United States to implement either sex deer hunting, which was very controversial at that time. While deer hunting remains the most popular game animal... duck hunters, coon hunters and squirrel hunters from all over the county flock to the refuge in pursuit of their favorite game animals each fall.


With over 300 lakes, oxbow lakes and ponds spread out across 160,000 acres and 90 miles of river the opportunities for fisherman are staggering. Crappie, bass and
bream are king here!

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