What is River Parks Authority?

River Parks Authority is a public trust authority created to develop and maintain the public park lands along the Arkansas River in Tulsa County. In Tulsa, there are three separate public park agencies: River Parks Authority, the City of Tulsa Parks Department, and the Tulsa County Park Department.

Isn't Gathering Place a River Park?

Yes, technically it is. While Gathering Place is legally a River Park, it is managed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Gathering Place will transform nearly 100 acres of Tulsa’s waterfront along the Arkansas River into a dynamic and active space. Gathering Place will blend nature with an urban setting providing Tulsans and visitors more space to play, relax and gather together along the river. The park, centrally located, will include features such as a lodge, boathouse, nature walks, two land bridges connecting the two sides of river parks, sporting areas and a pond.

For more info, please call 918.779.1000 or visit www.gatheringplace.com.

What rules govern public use in River Parks?

Park land controlled by the Authority is governed by Title 26, the City of Tulsa’s Parks Ordinance. If needed, the Authority may also approve and post additional rules to govern activity in certain areas of the park, such as the 41st Street Plaza, Turkey Mountain, and River West Festival Park. Most of River Parks falls under the enforcement jurisdiction of the Tulsa Police Department, except some portions of the M.K.&T. (Katy) Tulsa – Sand Springs Trail.

What are some of the primary rules that apply to River Parks?

• Curfew is 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. in all areas of River Parks
• Pets must be on a leash [Note: this rule differs from Title 26 which allows pets to be off leash, if under the immediate control of the owner.]
• Consumption of beverages containing alcohol is prohibited in parking lots
• No motorized vehicles, motorized bicycles, or motorized equipment
• See detailed rules for Zink Dam under “What is Zink Lake and Dam?” below

Are there lighted trails?

Most of the River Parks trails are lighted. However, most of the lights operate on timers and go off at night shortly after the park’s 11 p.m. curfew, then come on again when curfew lifts at 5 a.m. The M.K.& T. (Katy) Trail is not lighted between 11th Street (Southwest Boulevard) and 81st West Avenue in Sand Springs.

What guidelines govern trail use?

River Parks’ trails are enjoyed by tens of thousands of park users, year-round. The park system has dual trails where space allows on the east bank from 11th to 71st Street. The trails are marked with symbols to designate the trail lane closest to the river for pedestrians and the lane closest to the street for cyclists. As trail renovation continues on the west bank, the trail is being widened and marked to also feature separate cycling and pedestrian lanes between 11th and 71st Street. The pedestrian lane on the west bank will also be the lane closest to the river.

For your safety and the safety of others, please observe the following guidelines:
• Cyclists should ride at a safe speed and are encouraged to wear helmets
• All trail users should be alert to their surroundings
• Share the trail with courtesy, especially when walking, running or cycling with a partner or group
• In the event of an emergency, call 911 immediately

What About Park Safety?

River Parks covers hundreds of acres along a trail corridor that stretches from Sand Springs through Tulsa to Jenks. Trees and shrubs adjacent to the trail are kept trimmed and the trail is lighted in most areas. A number of areas of the park are isolated and are well away from vehicular traffic or residential areas. Trail and park users should always be aware of their surroundings and observe personal safety precautions normal for an urban area. Such precautions might include wearing light-reflective clothing after dark, carrying a cell phone, and using the trails with a companion, especially after dark. Parked vehicles should always be locked and valuables removed. There are no pay phones or emergency call boxes in the park.

Who Do I Call to Report a Problem in River Parks?

Call 911 immediately to report any suspicious activity, criminal activity, or serious hazards in River Parks. To report lights out, the need for minor repairs, or for other problems, you may contact the River Parks Authority at 918.596.2001 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. You may also send an email to staff@riverparks.org; emails will be answered during normal business hours.

What is Zink Lake & Dam?

Zink Lake is an impoundment pool on the Arkansas River created by Zink Dam at 29th Street. The lake extends upstream to the 11th Street/Southwest Boulevard Bridge. The area near the dam is popular for fishing and Zink Lake is used for non-motorized boating, primarily rowing. The Tulsa Rowing Club’s boathouse, which burned down, is planned to be rebuilt at the River West Festival Park, 2100 South Jackson, and a public boat ramp is at that same location. Water craft of any kind are strictly prohibited from traveling from Zink Lake, over the dam, downstream to below the dam. “Primary body contact” water activities such as swimming are prohibited. An area for kayaking, the “Tulsa Wave,” is located downstream of the dam on the west bank.

Please Note: All park activities, including water-oriented recreation, are “at your own risk.” The Arkansas River is subject to swift currents and rapidly fluctuating water levels; there are NO water safety patrols.
Title 26, Section 103., Paragraph X., of the Tulsa Revised Ordinances reads:

“No person shall stand, wade, swim or boat in the Arkansas River from the low water dam, upstream to the safety cables north of the Pedestrian Bridge or, if the safety cables are not in place, within four hundred (400) feet north of the Pedestrian Bridge. It shall also be a violation for anyone to be within the cabled area downstream of the low water dam, or within one hundred fifty (150) feet of the dam if the safety cables are not in place, anytime the hazard lights located on the east gatehouse are activated and blinking. If the warning lights are not activated and blinking, anyone may be within the cabled area downstream of the dam or within one hundred fifty (150) feet of the dam if the cables are not in place provided they do not stand, wade, or swim off any boat in the water.”

An extension of the Vision program, approved by Tulsa voters in 2016, will fund an extensive renovation of the dam and the replacement of the Pedestrian Bridge. The timing for these projects has not yet been determined.

What Are the Rules for Fishing in River Parks?

Fishing is allowed in most areas of the park, subject to all applicable Oklahoma fishing laws. A fishing license is required for all Oklahoma residents ages 16 and over and for all non-residents. Fishing regulations are enforced by the game rangers of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Striped Bass and catfish are tested periodically and are deemed safe to eat by the Tulsa City-County Health Department.

Are River Parks’ Facilities Accessible for Persons with Disabilities?

Restrooms, parking areas, playgrounds and picnic areas are designed to accommodate handicapped individuals. Turkey Mountain restrooms and its paved trail are ADA compliant. The unpaved portions of Turkey Mountain are not suitable for handicapped individuals.

What Park Activities Require Permits?

An “event” is any organized gathering or activity, public or private, which requires coordination by the River Parks staff and may include elements such as the reservation of specific park facilities or areas; the use of park electricity or water; sound amplification; selling or giving away food, beverages, merchandise or materials including brochures, handbills, or pamphlets; providing entertainment, sports instruction or education; and audio, film or photographic productions for commercial use. In addition, placement of a cache in River Parks for the purpose of geocaching requires permission by the River Parks Authority. Permission is also required to place any banners, signs, or flyers of any kind in the park. Fees charged for events vary according to the size and type of event and the event organizer is usually required to provide insurance to protect the interests of persons attending/participating in an event.

How Do I Reserve the Park and/or Schedule an Event?

To reserve a portion of the park or to hold an event, you must complete an event application and return it to the River Parks Authority. For more information about planning an event in River Parks, call 918.596.2001 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, or submit an application online using the Event Application page on this website.