It’s opening month for our Buena Vista outpost.  That means whitewater season in the Rocky Mountains is just around the corner.  Beginning in late April the rivers will start becoming prime for paddling the rapids.  Typically the water flows peak sometime in June and the season concludes around Labor Day.

The Arkansas River

One of the most prestigious and pristine river in the Rockies is the Arkansas River.  It begins in Climax, CO and finally joins the mighty Mississippi River in Napoleon, Arkansas as the third largest confluence for the Mississippi River. The drainage of the Arkansas River covers nearly 170,000 square miles with peak discharge of 41,000 CFS! Although this river is large and mighty, the best part of this river run between Leadville, CO and Canon City, CO. In this stretch of water, you can fly fish, whitewater raft, and kayak through a National Monument and some of the best high country Colorado can offer!

Whitewater Rafting the Arkansas River

This river is broken up into multiple world class whitewater sections listed from top to bottom; Pine Creek, The Numbers, The Narrows, Buena Vista Town Run, Fishermans, Browns Canyon, Big Bend, Salida East, Salida West, Rincon, Big Horn Sheep Canyon, and last but not least The Royal Gorge. Focusing in on the best three of the sections Browns Canyon, The Numbers, and Pine Creek.

Arkansas River Rafting

Browns Canyon

Browns Canyon is the most famous whitewater section in the country and is known for its continuous class III whitewater with wet and wild rapids such as Toilet Bowl, Seidels Suckhole, and my personal favorite the steps, the steps are actually seven different rapids with about ten yards between and they will leave you grinning ear to ear.


The Numbers

The next section is The Numbers which is rated between Class III and V but can be quantified as a solid Class IV section of whitewater. This section is known to be more technical as you dash and dart between large boulders and pour-overs, in addition to thrilling whitewater it also has views of beautiful home architecture constructed by Curtis W. Fentress who is famous for creating the original sketch of Denver International Airport.


Pine Creek

One of the favored stretches of whitewater for adrenaline junkies is the harrowing Pine Creek, which includes a 200 foot gradient drop over a few hundred yards which includes a must make crux move with the potential get spit out of the bottom swimming. We will not push you through this class V rapid known Triple Drop without first scouting the rapid, where guides will let you know the battle plan in advance. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for Big Horn Sheep while walking to and from the scouting site as it is a 50/50 chance you will catch a glimpse of these majestic animals.


Regardless of the section you choose, the Arkansas River will be an experience bound to leave you with a big grin on your face. There are plenty of options for multi-day adventures with AVA Rafting & Zipline.  Call one of our adventure specialists for advice on the stretch of whitewater to take on and plan your action-packed Colorado excursion today!