Arkansas River Rafting
Rafting: Arkansas River, Colorado
On Colorado's Arkansas River, get your feet wet in Brown's Canyon before hitting The Narrows, which is that bit more challenging and continuous. (courtesy, Wilderness Aware Rafting)
Arkansas River Rafting at a Glance
Price: $
River Rapid Class: Browns Canyon: II-III+; Salida to Cotopaxi: II-III; Cotopaxi to Parkdale: II-III; Royal Gorge: III-IV+
Trip in Miles: Browns Canyon: 12 to 21 miles; Salida to Cotopaxi: 11 to 23 miles; Cotopaxi to Parkdale: 10 to 22 miles; Royal Gorge: 9 to 19 miles
Trip Duration: Browns Canyon: 1 day; Salida to Cotopaxi: 1 day; Cotopaxi to Parkdale: 1 day; Royal Gorge: 1 day
Season: May-September
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft, Inflatable Kayak
River Sections: Browns Canyon; Salida to Cotopaxi; Cotopaxi to Parkdale; Royal Gorge
Nearby Towns: Buena Vista (CO), Salida (CO), Canon City (CO)
Gateway City: Buena Vista (CO)
Driving Times: Colorado Springs (CO): up to 2 hours; Denver (CO): up to 3 hours, depending on river section

"The Arkansas River is one of the nation's ten most popular recreational boating rivers. Highly valued for its diverse recreation, this 100-mile stretch is used by more than 400,000 rafters, kayakers, fishermen, campers, and wildlife viewers each year. Trips vary in difficulty and length, allowing flexibility.

The internationally renowned ""numbers"" rapids lie a short distance below Leadville, surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks. These are world class kayaking waters. The river continues through narrow Brown's Canyon. At Brown's Canyon, the river flows away from the highway and is adjacent to a BLM Wilderness Study Area. Although paralleled by the railroad, its remote character and quality rapids make this the most popular segment.

With space at a premium, from Salida to Parkdale, the sinuous river threads its way across pools, riffles, and huge boulders, creating excellent whitewater and trout fisheries. U.S. Highway 50 parallels much of the lower river, providing fishing and boating access, family picnicking, viewing opportunities, and great spots to photograph friends rafting on the river. Fishing on the Arkansas is highly valued and quite pleasurable as one is surrounded by beautiful landscape while enjoying the day's catch.

The 1,500-foot sheer rock walls of Royal Gorge ascend above the last segment as it flows into Canon City. Rapids such as Sunshine and Sledgehammer, make running this stretch an adventure." 

Published: 4 May 2011 | Last Updated: 25 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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