The Corps of Engineer tow boat, Mr. Pat, assists with the dewater at lock 17.
Corps of Engineers personnel performing inspections and repairs during the dewater of lock 17.
Girls enjoying a paddleboat ride near Afton Landing.
A tug boat pushes barges upstream below Highway 51 bridge near Wagoner, OK.
Water release at Chouteau Dam.

Chouteau Lock and Dam Recreation

Fishing and Hunting

In the bass tournament community, the McCllellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is fondly called the “Ditch.”  The “Ditch” offers an excellent bass fishery.  In addition to large mouth and striped bass, crappie, channel cats, flatheads and sunfish are abundantly found.  With boat access, anglers will find excellent cover in the feeder creeks and cutoff areas. Just be mindful of the stumps and submerged logs along the way.

The government boundary along the navigation channel is relatively narrow; however, hunting opportunities can be found for waterfowl, white-tailed deer, squirrels and rabbits.  The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation manages 2,229 acres in the McClellan-Kerr Wildlife Management Area, specifically in the Billy Creek and Chouteau portions.  The Corps offers public hunting lands along the remainder of the channel; however, areas around the lock and dam and public use areas are closed to all hunting. Hunting and fishing are regulated by state and federal laws, and state hunting and fishing licenses are required.

Camping and Picnicking

The Corps manages three areas on the Chouteau pool:  Afton Landing, Tullahassee Loop and Coal Creek.  Camping is allowed in Afton and Tullahassee; however, Coal Creek is restricted to boat launching/day use.  Camping in undesignated areas is prohibited.  Camping and day use fees are collected by self deposit at Afton Landing.  Facilities in Tullahassee and Coal Creek are free. 

Locking Procedure

 1.   Head your boat directly for the lock, not the spillway section.
 2.   Signal for lockage by pulling the designated chain located near the ends of the approach walls.
 3.   Before entering the lock, take position behind any vessels that precede your boat.
 4.   Life jackets are mandatory during the entire locking procedure.
 5.   Wait for the traffic signal light to turn green and for the lockmaster’s horn signal before entering the lock.
 6.   When entering and leaving the lock, travel at a reduced speed.
 7.   Carry aboard at least 50 feet of mooring line. You will need it to tie your craft safely to a floating mooring bitt.  Do not tie to ladders or mooring posts along the wall. Be prepared to cast off your mooring line quickly in case of an emergency.
 8.   Be alert for any vocal instructions from the lockmaster during lockage.
 9.   After the water level has been raised or lowered, wait for a horn signal before casting off and leaving the lock.
10.  Commercial traffic (barges) have priority over all other recreational vessels.

Lockage is available to recreational vessels 24 hours a day.  However, if commercial traffic is heavy, pleasure craft may be required to wait approximately 1.5 hours or may be permitted to lock through with the commercial vessels.  Also be sure to check the Navigation Notices page for any potential closures or delays.


The Chouteau Lock & Dam 17 Visitor Center is maintained and operated through a partnership with Tulsa Ports. The facility hosts new and interactive displays about navigation on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Visitors can observe barges locking through the dams on their way to retrieve or deliver goods.  It’s quite a sight to witness the skill of the commercial tugboat captains as they navigate the bulky barges through the locking chamber.

The Visitor Center is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ample parking, restrooms and a picnic area are available. The Visitor Center offers the public educational displays and great views of the lock and the Verdigris River. If the outside gate is closed during normal operating hours, push the call button on the gate for access. River traffic takes priority over visitation.

Visitors interested in checking out the nearby communities can experience the wonderful food and simple lifestyle of the Amish, the rich heritage and traditions of the Cherokee and Creek Nations, military history and a vast number of antique shops. 


The Jean Pierre Chouteau Trail is no longer maintained.  Please disregard any reference of this trail on other websites.