America’s white water rafting river
the arkansas river
arkansas river overview
Beginning high in the Colorado Rockies near the Continental Divide, the Arkansas River delivers more than 100 miles of whitewater – making it the most popular rafting river in the West. The Arkansas River’s appeal lies in its wide variety of trips and easy accessibility. Start your rafting adventure on mild, scenic float sections before stepping up to the world-famous class III-IV Browns Canyon section, then hit it hard on the ultimate whitewater challenge of the Numbers, Royal Gorge or Pine Creek. The Arkansas is ideal for families with young children, groups with mixed skill levels and outgoing, adventurous adults.
• Difficulty: Class I-V+
• Peak Season: May – September
We offer Arkansas River rafting trips suitable for families with small children as well as exciting white water rafting trips for seasoned pros. You may choose to raft on mellow scenic sections such as the Lower Browns Canyon, the wildly popular and moderately rambunctious Browns Canyon and Narrows trips or challenge the steep and unpredictable Numbers and Royal Gorge sections. Whatever level of white water rafting on the Arkansas River you’re prepared for, you can find the right trip with us.
Arkansas River Multi-Day Rafting and Camping Trips are available for two, three and five day lengths. Wilderness Aware runs more overnight river rafting trips than any other Arkansas River outfitter. We are the only company on the Arkansas River offering continuous rafting trips longer than two days where you carry your camping gear on the rafts and camp along the river… without driving between sections. For those interested in an overnight Arkansas River whitewater rafting trip of up to four days while sleeping in the comfort of a bed and breakfast each night, you may want to consider our Inn to Inn Rafting Trip. Senior guides cater to special requests on these custom small-group trips.
The Arkansas River drops 5,000 feet in its first 125 miles from its headwaters in the Colorado Rockies near the Continental Divide to the plains near Cañon City, Colorado. The Arkansas River is located 90 miles west of Colorado Springs, 120 miles southwest of Denver. The whitewater rafting sections of the Arkansas River flow past Buena Vista, Salida and finally end in Cañon City, Colorado.
Experience the Arkansas River
arkansas river sections
Hayden Meadows is great for self-guided float and/or fishing trips. No commercial outfitters run this section; self-guided only.
Pine Creek is the Arkansas River’s most challenging section. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s difficulty. See the resources drop down for more info.
The Numbers is fast-paced, technical with big waves and steep drops.
The Narrows is rocky, technical with long, exciting rapids.
The Milk Run is short and mild with a few small rapids. Great for kids.
Browns Canyon is full of big, splashy rapids suitable for all skill levels.
Lower Browns Canyon
Lower Browns is a mild section with a handful of small yet exciting rapids.
Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon
Upper Bighorn is a family-friendly section with small, fun rapids.
Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon
Lower Bighorn is a mellow section dotted with small rapids.
Parkdale is fast-paced with larger, splashy and technical rapids.
The Royal Gorge has high canyon walls and fast-paced, big rapids.
Swallows is a calm, scenic sections that’s great for families. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s location. See the resources drop down for more info.
What people are saying
Lydia filled us with confidence. She was skilled and knowledgeable and explained each set of rapids so we knew what to expect. She was great company and we had the best experience. She was brilliant.
I cannot wait to come back! Also loved how funny all the guides were. It was the most I’ve seen my sister laugh in a long time! Thank you so much for this amazing experience.
I spent several days researching various rafting options and after speaking w/your team was sold. We were not disappointed-the trip is spectacular and our guide Sean was informative, lively professional and entertaining.