Keystone Dam mostly tamed the Arkansas River floods that plagued Tulsa for decades, but the river is still a force of nature and water levels fluctuate with releases through Keystone. Meandering sandbars bely the deep pools and swift currents found throughout this reach of the river. Fishing and water sports are allowed, but should be undertaken with an abundance of caution. All park activities, including water-oriented recreation, are “at your own risk;” there are no water safety patrols.
Zink Lake is the impoundment pool created by the low water dam at 29th and Riverside. The lake extends north to the 11th Street/Southwest Boulevard bridges and is restricted to non-motorized water craft. Elsewhere along River Parks, there are no public boat ramps and the river channel is considered to be non-navigable.
Construction associated with Gathering Place has temporarily curtailed the use of Zink Lake, and the Pedestrian Bridge is accessible only from the west bank, with no nearby parking. After Gathering Place is completed, river recreation will still be impacted while Zink Dam is renovated and the Pedestrian Bridge is replaced.
Zink Dam remains a popular spot to fish for catfish and Striped Bass. Fishing is allowed in most areas of the park unless otherwise posted. Wading in the river channel is allowed, but fishing piers on the south face of the Pedestrian Bridge offer a safer location, especially during high water flows. Bowfishing is permitted at one location only – the west riverbank south of Zink Dam; it is prohibited from the Pedestrian Bridge or other elevated structures. Waders must stay alert to flashing warning lights on the south side of Zink Dam indicating rising water. An Oklahoma fishing license is required and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation enforces fishing regulations. For additional information, visit www.wildlifedepartment.com.
For the most part, rowing activities on Zink Lake are reduced due to current construction in the river channel, coupled with a fire that destroyed the Tulsa Rowing Club boathouse. The boathouse will be rebuilt and the Club is offering adult and youth rowing for men and women at an alternate location. For further information visit www.tulsarowing.org.
Once known in the region for its whitewater, the Tulsa Wave on the west bank of the river south of Zink Dam has been largely quieted by scouring in the river channel caused by extended high water flows a few years ago. Attempts to restore naturally-occurring features that created the whitewater have been unsuccessful, but a whitewater flume is expected to be part of the Zink Dam renovation design. The Tulsa Wave is accessed by a parking lot at the West Tulsa Sports Complex, 36th and Elwood and a switchback trail leading down to the water. Area kayak outfitters are a resource for additional information.