The 10 Longest Rivers in Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma on the banks of the Arkansas River.
Tulsa, Oklahoma on the banks of the Arkansas River.

Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th most extensive state of the United States. It was admitted to the Union on November 16, 1907, as the 46th state. Oklahoma is a major producer of agricultural products, oil, and natural gas. A large part of the state lies in the cross timbers, the United States interior highlands, and the Great Plains. The waterways of the state consist of more than 500 creeks and rivers. Oklahoma has the largest number of artificial reservoirs in the country. The Arkansas River is the longest in the state, followed by the Red River and Candian River.

The Longest Rivers in Oklahoma

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is the sixth longest river in the country. It covers 1,469 miles from the confluence of the Tennessee Creek and the East Fort Arkansas River in the rocky mountains of Colorado to the Mississippi River in Napoleon, Arkansas. The Arkansas River is a tributary of the Mississippi River and traverses the state of Colorado, Arkansas, and Kansas. Its drainage basin extends over 170,000 square miles and discharges about 40,000 cubic feet per second.

Red River

The Red River of the South covers 1,360 miles from Harmon County, Oklahoma to the Atchafalaya River. It was once a tributary of the Mississippi, but it is currently a tributary of the Atchafalaya River. The Red River formed part of the boundary between the United States and Mexico before the US annexation of Texas. It forms part of the Oklahoma-Texas and Texas-Arkansas borderlines. The Red River discharges over 57,000 cubic feet to the Atchafalaya River.

Canadian River

The Canadian River flows for 906 miles from the rocky mountains of Colorado to the Arkansas River in Haskell County, Oklahoma. It traverses across Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. It is the largest tributary of the Arkansas River. The river's main tributaries are the Deep Fork, the Little, and the North Canadian Rivers. The Canadian River is dammed severally to provide water for irrigation and domestic use including at Conchas Lake, Ute Lake, and Lake Meredith.

Cimarron River

The Cimarron River flows for 698 miles from the confluence of the Carrizozo Creek and the Dry Cimarron River in Cimarron County, Oklahoma to the Keystone Lake on the Arkansas River. The river flows through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas but the largest portion lies within Oklahoma. The drainage basin of the Cimarron River is about 18,927 square miles.

​Water Pollution in Oklahoma

Water pollution is a severe problem in the state of Oklahoma. Coal-fired power plants have been accused of discharging harmful waste and scrubber wastewater into the rivers. Fracking in the state exposes the water bodies to high levels of fossil fuels. In 2013, the state submitted a lawsuit against 50 companies for breaching fracking laws. The destruction of water catchment areas through deforestation has led to the decline in the quantity of the water while the construction of dams prevents rivers from maintaining their natural courses.

The 10 Longest Rivers in Oklahoma

1Arkansas River1469 miles (2364 km)
2Red River1360 miles (2190 km)
3Canadian River 906 miles (1458 km)
4Cimarron River698 miles (1123 km)
5Neosho River463 miles (745 km)
6North Canadian River440 miles (710 km)
7Verdigris River310 miles (500 km)
8Washita River295 miles (475 km)
9North Fork Red River271 miles (436 km)
10Salt Fork Arkansas River239 miles (385 km)

More in World Facts