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Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is recognized as one of the nation's most popular locations for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The Arkansas River it the most commercially rafted river in the United States and is noted for its world-class fishery, which provides an excellent opportunity for anglers to test their skills at catching brown and rainbow trout.

AHRA visitors also enjoy camping, hiking, picnicking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, rock climbing, and even gold panning along the river’s shores, deep canyons, broad valleys and towering mountain peaks found within the upper Arkansas River valley.

Whitewater Boating in the AHRA 

The AHRA follows the beautiful, wild-to-mild river 152 miles from the historic town of Leadville, through the Sawatch mountain range and Colorado’s tallest peaks, down to Pueblo on the edge of Colorado’s plains.

Boaters can find anything from roaring Class IV and V rapids to milder Class I and II sections, which are ideal for beginner and family trips. The upper Arkansas River is the most popular whitewater boating river in the United States. On any spring or summer day, hundreds of private and commercial rafters and kayakers will challenge the churning rapids or glide through the calmer sections of the Arkansas River.

​​​Fishing in the AHRA

The Arkansas River boasts 102 of Colorado's 322 miles of Gold Medal trout waters, stretching from Leadville to Pueblo. This is the highest rating given to trout fisheries and means anglers can expect 60 lbs and twelve fish over 14" per acre. Anglers enjoy both walk-and-wade and float fishing throughout the scenic Arkansas valley.

There are many public fishing areas easily accessible from the highway, as well as some requiring more of a hike. If you're looking for a day of fishing with the family, AHRA provides sites with access to some of Colorado’s best fishing along with picnic tables, grills, and views of the river and mountains.

​F Street Bridge Repairs

BE ADVISED: There will be heavy machinery working on the F Street Bridge in the Salida Whitewater Park beginning September 20th, 2018. The boatable channel will be on river left. The work is ongoing. 

For more information, please contact Public Works at 719-539-6257 or view City of Salida's​ Press Release.

Arkansas River Diversion Reconstruction 

BE ADVISED: The Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs will be reconstructing their Arkansas River Diversion located at river mile 16, approximately 2 miles south of Granite, Colorado. Construction work will occur between July 2018 and December 2019.​ ALL DOWNRIVER TRAFFIC MUST PORTAGE.

For more information and updates, visit the Arkansas River Diversion Project webpage​.