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Colorado Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
Arkansas River Rafting & Kayaking


The Arkansas is the most popular whitewater river in America and it is open for rafting from May though September. This 100-mile stretch of water flows through the spectacular Browns Canyon National Monument and is used by more than 400,000 rafters, kayakers, fishermen, campers and wildlife viewers each year. The Arkansas River has an average gradient of 38 feet per mile.

Rafting the Arkansas River
Rafting the Arkansas River is Perfect For All Ages
Browns Canyon National Monument
The Famous Browns Canyon National Monument


The Arkansas River is divided in three different sections. The upper section, the Bighorn, flows by the Cotopaxi cliffs. As you cruise down the river, you will experience geological formations and views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Bighorn Sheep are commonly seen as you raft down the river. These rapids are classified as III-IV rapids.

Continuing down the river to the Royal Gorge section that features giant waves, steep technical drops and almost continuous whitewater through the narrow canyon of the Royal Gorge. As you adventure though some of the most challenging whitewater you'll find, you may not even notice the Royal Gorge Bridge 1053 feet above the river. To traverse this section, you must be in good physical shape to navigate the class IV-V rapids.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is one of the nation's premier recreation areas. Stretching for 152 miles along the Arkansas River, the area offers abundant and outstanding opportunities for rafting, kayaking, picnicking, hiking,  fishing, mountain biking, and sightseeing among deep canyons, broad valleys and towering mountain peaks. The Arkansas River is very popular for private and commercial boaters alike. There are many public areas easily accessible from the area's highways, some require a hike.

BOATING ACCESS POINTS: Along Highway 50 from Mile Marker 100 to 119 are Pinnacle Rock, Salt Lick, Five Points, Spikebuck, Parkdale, Pink House, Centennial Park and River Station. Along Highway 24 from Mile Marker 0 to 119 are Lake Fork, Crystal Lakes, Hayden Meadows, Kobe, and Granite. Along Highway 24 from Mile Marker 14 to 32 are Granite, Clear Creek North & South, Numbers Launch Site, Riverside, Railroad Bridge, Buena Vista. Along Highway 24 from Mile Marker 36 to 52 are Fisherman's Bridge, Ruby Mountain, Hecla Junction, Stone Bridge. Along Highway 50 from Mile Marker 60 to 72 are Salida Boat Ramp, Salida East, Rincon.  Along Highway 50 from Mile Marker 80 to 96 are Vallie Bridge, Trading Post, Lone Pine, Fernleaf Gulch, Texas Creek, Maytag.

Browns Canyon is the last section of the Arkansas River, which runs near the Buena Vista area. This section of the river is tamer than the other sections and is more suitable for all ages with class III-III+ rapids.

The International Rapid Rating Scale:

  • Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles, small waves.
  • Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids, wide, clear channels.
  • Class III: Intermediate. Rapids, moderate, irregular waves.
  • Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful rapids, precise boat handling.
  • Class V: Expert. Long, obstructed, violent rapids.

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Places to Stay & Fun Things to Do

4 Seasons RV Resort email this Colorado cabin Photos available on Colorado vacation page Link to special offers and discounts icon
In the Heart of the Rockies, 2 miles E of Salida. Full RV hookups on level, grassy sites by the Arkansas River. 3 mountain resort cabins. Open 4 Seasons! $AVE MONEY, LONGER STAY! Multi-night discounts.
A Raft Masters Adventure link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Rafting adventures on either The Arkansas River, 45 miles from Colorado Springs in Canon City; or, Clear Creek, 30 miles from Denver in Idaho Springs. Raft Masters FREE use of wetsuit and river-boots.
Acquired Tastes Rafting link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page New Colorado vacation business
We provide a smaller, more personal rafting experience with 2 MORE RAPIDS! Acquired Tastes Rafting has 1/2-day, full-day and 2-day adventures. Takeout and camp are on private property along the River.
Adventure Outfitters link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Great Guides+Great Prices = Great Value! It's that simple! Rafting! Family Adventure to Expert Runs. Full Day or 1/2-Day trips into Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge. Outfitters Committed To Safety!
Agate Dog Inc dba Geo Tours Whitewater Raft Trips link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Metro Area base in Morrison! Geo Tours is WHITEWATER RAFTING. Experienced staff, owners since 1981. Clear Creek mini-trips; closest to Denver, perfect family outing. Gold Medal waters fishing trips.
Arkansas River KOA, Loma Linda Motel & Kitchenette Cabins email this Colorado cabin Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Along beautiful Arkansas River with 2000 foot of great fly-fishing. WI-FI! KOA Campground and Loma Linda Kitchenette Motel rooms and cabins. Riverside group pavilion. Near ATV tours, trails. Family rates.
Arkansas River Tours - Family Floats to Extreme Adventures email this Colorado cabin link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Family reunions are our specialty! Since 1973, ART offers exceptional whitewater rafting trips on the Arkansas River; in Cotopaxi, between Canon City and Salida. Wilderness Tours in Gunnison Gorge.
Chalk Creek Campground, Cabins & RV Park link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Near Buena Vista, Salida, fishing, rafting, hiking, hot springs pools, off-roading. Log Cabins have kitchen and bathroom. Some campground sites along Chalk Creek. Large full hookups RV sites! FREE WI-FI!!
City of Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center link to Colorado vacation Map showing location of Colorado vacation
The largest indoor hot springs aquatic center in Colorado! Open year-round in Salida. Relax in natural, hot, mineral water with family swimming and soaking pools. Private European style natural hot baths.
Clear Creek Rafting Co. email this Colorado cabin link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Something for everyone! Whitewater trips on 2 GREAT RIVERS: The Arkansas River and Clear Creek. 2 CONVENIENT LOCATIONS: Royal Gorge and Idaho Springs! From 2 hours to multi-day rafting tours.
Colorado Adventures - Wilderness Aware link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page Link to special offers and discounts icon
BE AWARE: Family Outdoor Fun in a raft! Twice Named Colorado: Company of the Year! Daily trips on 5 Colorado rivers into the wilderness. Rafting adventures with Inn-to-Inn stays for multi-day excursions.
MoonShadow Ranch link to Colorado vacation
Mild Weather Year Round -- MoonShadow is a Family Vacation Home -- 4-bedroom Ranch -- between Salida and Canon City -- In the Royal Gorge Region. In summer and winter gear up for ATVing or fishing.
Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting and Adventure Co.
"Miles from Ordinary"
 link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
The family whitewater rafting specialists since 1983! Noah's Ark is dedicated to excellence, adventure and fun. Half-day, full-day, overnight trips on the Arkansas River. Group discounts with reservations.
Royal Gorge Rafting, Zip Line Tours, Vacation Rentals, White Water Bar and Grill link to Colorado vacation Photos available on Colorado vacation page
Colorado's #1 Royal Gorge Outfitter and Zip Line Tours. Royal Gorge Rafting, Zip Line Tours, White Water Bar and Grill - One Location - 100% FUN! Between Salida and Canon City on the Arkansas River.
Sweetwater River Ranch - Experience A River Vacation link to Colorado vacation
On the Arkansas River - Sweetwater. WI-FI. At the Ranch fishing and bird watching. Nearby: raft, hike, ATV Jeep Trails, wildlife. Small, peaceful, relaxing. Near Royal Gorge, Canon City, Salida, and Westcliffe.

More Activities & Information

Buena Vista Area, Colorado includes: Johnson Village, Nathrop, St. Elmo

Royal Gorge Area, Colorado includes: Cañon City, Coaldale, Cotopaxi, Florence, Guffey, Penrose, Texas Creek

Salida, Colorado includes: Howard, Monarch, Poncha Springs

Rafting & Kayaking in Colorado

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