Arkansas River: Come for the Rafting, Stay for the Trout!

We all know of the Arkansas River as the Mecca of whitewater rafting, but did you know it boasts another accolade? Anglers rejoice – the 102 mile stretch of river starting near Leadville to the Royal Gorge in Cañon City is Gold Medal Trout Water.


What is Gold Medal Trout Water?

Designated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, Gold Medal Trout Water must be publicly accessible and produce at least 12 “quality” trout (14+ inches) in addition to 60 pounds of standing stock per acre. Offering just over 100 miles of some of the best fishing conditions, the Arkansas River is the longest stretch of Gold Medal water in the state of Colorado.

Unlike other iconic fishing rivers in Colorado, the Arkansas only recently earned its place in the Gold Medal club. Leadville’s early mining days took their toll on the Arkansas River contributing towards decades of damage. The designation as one of the best rivers for trophy trout fishing is the reward for years of combined effort on the behalf of state and federal agencies, volunteers, and the Arkansas River Valley community. As little as 20 years ago trout in the area experienced a limited lifespan of only 3 years due to the heavy metal contaminants from mining. Today’s trout thrive living beyond an age of 10 years and growing to a much larger, healthier size.

In addition to reviving the fishing scene, the conservation efforts have even further preserved the beauty found along the Arkansas River. These stretches of river are best appreciated while in a raft. Areas like Browns Canyon National Monument and the iconic Royal Gorge encompass this portion of the Arkansas River conveniently creating the ultimate combination: America’s finest fishing and adrenaline inducing class III-IV whitewater rafting.

While you aren’t able to fish off of our rafts (a special permit is required) our guides are happy to eddy out to those secret spots accessible only by raft. If you want to make the most of fishing opportunities, I invite you to look into our multiday trips. Since we camp right along the river, these trips allow anglers to take advantage of peak biting hours: dawn and dusk.

The Arkansas River has always held the spotlight as a whitewater rafting destination, but it is home to so much more. Gold Medal Trout Water brings fishing galore (both brownies and rainbow) to our favorite whitewater destinations giving even more opportunities for fun this summer.

Colorado Rafting River Guide:

Colorado Rafting River Guide
Check out our detailed information about the rivers you can raft across Colorado.

What Our Guests Say:

This trip surpassed all of my expectations.
Amy B.
I have rafted with other companies before but I found your company and Mike, our guide, to be outstanding! I will be back!
Joe M.
I started rafting at WA in 1999 and have always had a good time. I highly recommend WA to anyone who wants to raft.
Marty E.
Pete was great. Extremely friendly and he took great care of us and really put our group first. Our trip was relaxing and fun!
Erin L.
Very pleasant and enjoyable experience. Rafted four other times and this was the best.
Linda H.
We had an awesome time! All staff we dealt with were very personable and helpful. I can’t imagine anything you could do to improve!
Rusty B.
Sarah, our guide, was the consummate professional.
Becky M.
Thanks for the great time on the river. You do a super job of taking care of your crews.
Jan P.
We’ve been with a lot of different rafting companies over the years and we have never used the same company twice but everyone on the trip agreed that your company is the best!
Lisa P.
I want to raft again and again and well you get the point…again.
Levi V.
Your staff and guides were so helpful and so much fun. My kids ranked that half-day trip as the highlight of our month long trip!
Patty G.
You are great to work with and your guides are fun to be around and well trained. Each experience I’ve had with you (3) has been excellent.
Dawn R.
The trip, your people, your facility never get old.
Fred P.
We have rafted round the world and this is by far the best—best trained guides, best safety, best food, best fun. Thanks.
Jane H.
This was the highlight of our trip to Colorado!
Beth G.
This was my first rafting experience and you guys made it awesome! Thank you so much!
Jamie L.
Frenchie was the best guide I’ve ever had! This is a great company and I will definitely be telling friends about it!
Jamin R.
One of the best times of my life!
Dylnn R.
We booked our trip cold off the internet and found from the very beginning a very friendly and courteous staff that helped out and answered all our questions.
Carolyn W.
Appreciate your professional and fun staff! Will definitely return next year!
Dana Q.
I love the staff!! Very entertaining and welcoming. This was a great rafting experience. I want to come back tomorrow and do it again!
Bailey W.
Matt was the most enthusiastic and exciting guide I have ever had… and I have done this a lot.
Carl M.
We started rafting with you in 1988. This is our fourth trip. Will be back.
Jim L.
Been rafting six times around the country. Best trip and guide so far.
James H.
The entire staff from reservations to first contact to trip guide was friendly and helpful. Our Scouts had an outstanding time!
Ken T.
I loved my experience at WA and will definitely be back with more people.
Cory D.
Best time I’ve had on the river in the past 15 years!!!! Will return soon!!!
Dylan S.
Good job, as usual. Our 5th or 6th trip with WA. Big fans of WA.
Tim S.
We feel we have found new friends in Wilderness Aware and plan on spending time in the future with you.
Susie S.
Very professional yet very informal approach—not an easy combination to sustain—nice team—office included.
Mark W.
From the enthusiastic greetings when we arrived at the office this am, all service was top notch.
John D.
I would like to commend your staff on their great teamwork and enthusiasm. This was the highlight of our trip to Arizona.
Michele E.
Sarah was fantastic! Very knowledgeable and very fun! Best trip ever, even the low water! We will be back again!
Barbara L.
When I made our reservation I knew we were going to have a fantastic time. Everything that happened today exceeded my expectations.
Mark E.
We had an awesome time. I would definitely recommend your company!
Leona H.
It was the best first experience in rafting. Ben was awesome!! Five stars!
Kirby S.
Your internet advertising was great. People who answered the phone very helpful and the guides top notch. Seems like your manager has done a wonderful job. I see why you are a successful company.
Phil G.
I work in safety – wish I could get all our regional safety folks to present their safety meetings with the same enthusiasm and professionalism.
Karla S.
This company is quality. Six years ago I did the same trip with Jack, Ian, and Kelly and the quality is as good today.
Chris G.
Family friend always said Wilderness Aware Rafting was the best. I totally agree!
Angie D.

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