Great section for any rafter 



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Trip Length

Difficulty Level

parkdale overview

The rapids of the Parkdale section of the Arkansas River are similar to those in Browns Canyon. Like Browns Canyon, the rapids are separated by calm pools, which allow boaters time to recover between rapids. However, if the water is higher, waves and rapids can be even larger than in Browns Canyon. Highway 50 parallels the river throughout this section. The Parkdale section provides the perfect warm-up if you plan to continue downstream into the challenging class IV-V rapids of the Royal Gorge.

Recommended For: All levels of experience; beginners and first-timers

Recommended Rafting Trips on Parkdale – Arkansas River:

Bighorn Sheep Canyon Full Day Trip

Tackle fun, splashy and swift rapids on this exciting full day section of the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado – close to Colorado Springs and Denver. This trip is suitable for all skill levels, kids ages 6+ and is available from late-May to mid-August. This white water adventure is a great choice for families with younger kids that want a fun-filled day of adventure.

Adult price : $153


Bighorn Sheep Half Day Trip

Join us for lively and active whitewater on the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado – close to Colo. Springs and Denver. Enjoy the fast-paced, splashy rapids and beautiful canyon scenery on this trip suitable for all skill levels and kids ages 6+. Raft anytime between April and late-September. This is a fantastic adventure for families and friends!

Adult price : $87


parkdale sections

Parkdale White Water Rafting Details:

Difficulty: Class III-IV (What does this mean?)
Elevation: 6285′ to 5760′
Average Gradient: 27.3′ per mile

Access to Access

Lone Pine to Fernleaf Gulch: 0.8 miles
Fernleaf Gulch and Texas Creek: 4.4 miles
Texas Creek to Maytag: 1.4 miles
Maytag to Pinnacle Rock: 4.0 miles
Pinnacle Rock to Salt Lick: 1.6 miles
Salt Lick to Spikebuck: 2.2 miles
Spikebuck to Parkdale: 4.8 miles
Total Mileage: 19.2 miles

Notes: Good alternative to Browns Canyon, though not as challenging. Also, the second half of this section is typically the “warm up” before entering the Royal Gorge if you are rafting a full day Royal Gorge trip.



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 – Parkdale Access Details:


Lone Pine, Texas Creek, Pinnacle Rock, Salt Lick, Spikebuck & Parkdale Access

Arkansas River – Lone Pine, Texas Creek, Pinnacle Rock, Salt Lick, Spikebuck & Parkdale Access Details:

  • Sites: Lone Pine, Texas Creek, Pinnacle Rock, Salt Lick, Spikebuck & Parkdale 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
    7195397289 ~
Fernleaf Gulch & Maytag Access

Arkansas River – Fernleaf Gulch & Maytag Access Details:

  • Sites: Fernleaf Gulch & Maytag Access
  • Instructions: Sites are both undeveloped, with no signage or amenities. Use at your own risk.
  • Fee: No

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.

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