Arkansas River – Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon White Water Rafting Description:
The Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon section of the Arkansas River offers continuously moving water punctuated by exciting rapids, all while floating through a gorgeous boulder-strewn, craggy canyon. Although highway 50 runs parallel to the river here, you may see Colorado wildlife, especially Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
Recommended For: Self-guided float fishing trips, or self-guided beginner kayakers and rafters with children.
Recommended Rafting Trips on Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon – Arkansas River:
Arkansas River 2, 3 or 5 Day
Portions of Narrows, Milk Run, Browns Canyon, Upper and Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Parkdale and Royal Gorge
Wilderness Aware Rafting
Arkansas River – Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon White Water Rafting Details:
Difficulty: Class II-III (What does this mean?)
Elevation: 6519′ to 6285′
Average Gradient: 25.4′ per mile
Access to Access
Vallie Bridge to Trading Post: 4.7 miles
Trading Post to Lone Pine: 4.5 miles
Total Mileage: 9.2 miles
Notes: Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon is not typically commercially rafted as it’s own section, rather it is included in longer full-day and multi-day trips. One rapid just above Trading Post access can become very large at higher water flows.
GPS Coordinates to Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon Access Points – Arkansas River:
- Vallie Bridge Access: 38.391422,-105.774082
- Trading Post Access: 38.36738,-105.714333
- Lone Pine Access: 38.390312,-105.653136
Cities Near the Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon Section:
- Salida, Poncha Springs, Howard & Cotopaxi
Information for Arkansas River Self-Guided Boaters:
The Arkansas River is in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) and is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
- Boating Permit Required: NO
- Permit Details: On the off chance you do not use a developed AHRA Recreation Site, no fee of any kind is required to float the river.
Arkansas River – Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon Access Details:
- Sites: Vallie Bridge, Trading Post and Lone Pine Recreation Sites
- Instructions: Follow signage at recreation site.
- Fee: Annual or daily permits are required to use these sites. Those without passes will be ticketed.
- Where to Buy: Annual Permits can be purchased through AHRA in Salida or Colorado Parks and Wildlife Offices in Denver, but most people use the self-serve daily pay stations at AHRA managed access points.
- Contact: Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA)
307 W Sackett Street, Salida, CO 81201
719-539-7289 ~ www.parks.state.co.us/parks/arkansasheadwaters
At this time we do not have information on any entity that offers shuttles on this section. We recommend traveling with at least two vehicles in order to run your own shuttle.