10 Reasons to Visit the Arkansas River

Get to know Colorado's Arkansas River better. Here are the top 10 reasons to experience the Arkansas River near Colorado Springs.

1. The Arkansas River, considered the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in America, includes 152 rafting miles, more than 80 named Class II to Class V rapids to enjoy.

2. The Arkansas River whitewater activities include: 

  • Raft and Royal Gorge Bridge combo trips               
  • Raft and ATV combo trips
  • Raft and bike combo trips                                                
  • Raft and train combo trips
  • Raft and rock climb combo trips                                   
  • Raft and zipline combo trips
  • Family float trips                                                                     
  • Kayak adventure trips
  • Inflatable kayak (Ducky) trips                                       
  • Paddle boarding lessons
  • Women's programs                                                              
  • Full moon rafting tours                                                     
  • Kayak lessons                                                                           
  • Multi-day rafting trips 

3. The river is unique in that it flows through a Colorado State Park: Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, which is operated through a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, one of the most visited parks in the state, offers ATVing, biking, birding, camping (101 campsites at 6 of the nicest campgrounds on the river), canoeing/rafting/ kayaking, fishing, four-wheeling, gold panning, hiking/backpacking, hiking/nature trails, horseback riding, nature/interpretive trail, rafting, river tubing, rock climbing/rappelling, rockhounding, scenic drive, scenic overlook and wildlife viewing. 

4. From Leadville to Canon City the Arkansas River offers nearly 80 miles of public access and boasts great catches of nice-sized brown trout and rainbows. In 2014, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission declared 102 miles of the river as Gold Medal, the longest stretch in state. The river is one of the few fisheries in Colorado that supports such a strong brown trout population, making it extremely popular with fly-fishermen.

5. Unlike any other river in Colorado, or in the entire western United States, the Arkansas River is fortunate to have what is known as the Voluntary Flow Management Program. The program works to maintain summer flows between July 1 - Aug. 15 for boating and year-round flows to enhance the trout fishery.

6. Amazing views of fifteen of Colorado's 58 14,000-foot peaks located in the Upper Arkansas River region.  

7. Located on the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon National Monument protects 21,586 acres of pristine canyons, rivers and backcountry forest.

8. The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Colorado's state Mammal is found in the Arkansas River Valley. Other wildlife that can be seen include ducks, mallards, Canadian geese, elk, golden and bald eagles, great horned owls, Colorado mule deer, mountain goats, and black bears. 

9. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park - Awe-inspiring panoramic views from one of the world's highest suspension bridges - hanging 956 feet high and spanning a quarter mile across the canyon. 

10. The Arkansas River outfitters offer great meals on the river. In addition Chaffee and Fremont Counties offer more than 120 "eries": galleries, roasteries, distilleries, wineries, breweries and eateries.