The Arkansas River is one of the most popular spots for whitewater rafting in the country. It begins its journey near Leadville and flows south past Buena Vista and Salida, before heading east to Canon City, Pueblo, and the plains. Aside from rafting, there are OHV trails (Off-Highway Vehicles), gold panning opportunities, campsites, and rock climbing.
While whitewater rafting may be the most popular activity on the Arkansas River, there are plenty of other opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Biking/Hiking: A lot of trails exist within the recreation area. Hayden Meadows is in the northern part of the park and has a variety of accessible fishing and hiking trails, wetland boardwalks, and bridges surrounding the reservoir.
Boating: There are plenty of places on the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area to launch a myriad of boat types.
- There are 6 campgrounds open year-round, although they have no hookups or water. The sites are reservable from April 1 – September 30.
- Read about the Camping near Buena Vista, around the Arkansas River.
- Read about the Camping near Salida, around the Arkansas River.
Fishing: Both boat and riverbank fishing are permitted on the Gold Medal Waters of the Arkansas River.
Gold Panning: Permitted along the river as long as you bring your own supplies.
Horseback Riding: Available on adjacent public lands.
Ice Fishing: Available at the Hayden Meadows recreation site.
OHV Riding: There are lots of trails for off-road vehicle riding in the Four Mile and Texas Creek area of the park.
Picnicking: Numerous sites are accessible just off the highway. Picnic areas have tables and grills.
Rock Climbing: There are many formidable climbs along the river for expert climbers. Novices should contact the park for instructions or connect with local outfitters to discuss a guided trip.
Whitewater Rafting: This 150-mile stretch offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the country. All rafting is done privately by commercial outfits. Learn more about rafting the Arkansas River.
Winter Recreation: Snowmobiling is permitted in certain areas and there are plenty of high alpine trails in the Collegiate Peaks mountains near Buena Vista. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also popular.
Address: 307 West Sackett Ave, Salida, CO
Pets: Yes, on leash
Fees: Vehicle (per day)
Map: Arkansas Headwaters (PDF)