Just over 720 miles long, the White River heads on the north slope of the Boston Mountains in northwest Arkansas. Flowing north and gathering tributaries, it passes through Beaver Lake and then loops across extreme southwest Missouri, primarily within Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Reservoir.
Dipping back into Arkansas, the White River receives the flow of the Buffalo River, which drains the eastern portion of the Boston Mountains, and then joins the North Fork of the White, which carries runoff from much of south-central Missouri before passing through Norfolk Lake. At Batesville, Arkansas, the White River leaves the Ozark Uplift and enters the broad, flat Coastal Plain of North America, coursing east to merge with waters of the Black River and then winding SSE all the way to its junction with the Mississippi (just north of the latter's junction with the Arkansas River). En route, it takes in flow from the Little Red River, coming from central Arkansas, and numerous meandering streams and bayous across the Coastal Plain.
The southernmost section of the White River snakes through the White River National Wildlife Refuge, a landscape of dense swamp forests on the Mississippi floodplain. The refuge will be my destination this week as I embark on my annual spring road trip. After following the White River from southern Missouri to its mouth at the Mississippi, I plan to return through my old birding grounds along the Arkansas Valley, east of Little Rock, where I honed my skills back in the early 1980s. Details to follow in the coming days!