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Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

AHRA Management Plan Revision

The Arkansas River Recreation Management Plan is being revised. Learn about opportunities to participate and provide your comments in shaping future management of the Arkansas River.

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is recognized as one of the nation's most popular locations for whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Arkansas River - 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 – and its avid patrons – follow the beautiful but unpredictable, wild-to-mild river for 152 miles from the historic town of Leadville, through the Sawatch mountain range and Colorado’s tallest mountains, all the way down to Pueblo on the edge of Colorado’s plains.

Boaters can find anything from roaring Class IV and V rapids to milder Class II and III 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.

Fishing i​n the AHRA

The Arkansas River, within the AHRA, offers fishing opportunities for every type of angler, from the bank or from a raft. 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.​

Whitewater Rafting

Many people use a river outfitter to enjoy the whitewater of the Arkansas River. Look up an AHRA river rafting or fishing outfitter, photographer or shuttle service in the Outfitter List.​