Fantastic short section of the Arkansas River

Milk Run


Milk Run Trip Search:




Trip Length

Difficulty Level

milk run overview

The Milk Run section of the Arkansas River is a fun, fast-moving section of river with a handful of small, bouncy rapids. This section is perfect for young kids, grandparents and timid first-timers.

Recommended For: Timid, first-time rafters, families with young children or elderly relatives. Also great for short float fishing trips.

Note: When rafting the Milk Run, you should access the river at Johnson Village (where Wilderness Aware Rafting’s private access is located) in order to avoid two large, higher classified rapids that lie between Buena Vista and Johnson Village. Only one of these large rapids has a portage.

Recommended Rafting Trips on The Milk Run – Arkansas River:

milk run sections

Milk Run White Water Rafting Details:

Difficulty: Class I-II (III-IV) (What does this mean?)
Elevation: 7905′ to 7684′
Average Gradient: 34.0′ per mile

Access to Access

Buena Vista to Wilderness Aware Rafting: 2.5 miles
Wilderness Aware Rafting to Fisherman’s Bridge: 4.0 miles
Total Mileage: 6.5 miles

Notes: The Milk Run becomes very rocky and hard to navigate below 500 cfs. REMEMBER:There are two significant class III-IV rapids between Buena Vista Access and Johnson Village. Avoid this section if you have young members in your group.



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.

    Dwight W. Rafter
  • 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.

    Lexi R. Rafter
  • 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.

    Lauren C. Rafter


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 – The Milk Run Access Details:

Buena Vista Access

Arkansas River – Buena Vista Access Details:

  • Sites: Buena Vista Access
  • Instructions: Follow signage at site.
  • Fee: No
  • Contact: Town of Buena Vista
    210 East Main Street, Po Box 2002, Buena Vista, CO 81211
    719.395.8643 ~
Wilderness Aware Rafitng Access

Arkansas River – Wilderness Aware Rafting Access Details:

  • Sites: Wilderness Aware Rafting Private Access
  • Instructions: When driving down the steep road to the boat ramp, go slowly to avoid skidding, do not back down the boat ramp, and load or unload quickly. Use of picnic tables at the river is prohibited.
  • Fee: $3/kayak or SUP board and $5/raft. No charge for parking.
  • Where to Buy: Check in at the office before parking or using the ramp. They will chase you down if you fail to check in!
  • Contact: Wilderness Aware Rafting
    12600 US-24, Po Box 1550, Buena Vista, CO 81211
    719.395.2112 ~
Fisherman’s Bridge Access

Arkansas River – Fisherman’s Bridge Access Details:

  • Sites: Fisherman’s Bridge Recreation Site
  • 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 ~

Wilderness Aware Rafting offers self-guided boater vehicle shuttles on limited sections of the Arkansas River. Please contact them at 800.462.7238 or complete an Arkansas River Shuttle Reservation Form on their website.

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