Calm, easily accessible section – great for families

Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon


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upper bighorn sheep canyon overview

Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon is a mild whitewater rafting section of the Arkansas River characterized by long sections of mellow water interrupted by the occasional moderate-sized rapid. Upper Bighorn is perfect for float fishing adventures or for those looking for a family rafting excursion. It can also be combined with sections above and below it for a multi-day trip.

Recommended For: Timid first-timers and families with young children.

Related Trips to Upper Bighorn-Arkansas River:

Arkansas River 3 Day Trip

Get away from the day-to-day on this, action-packed Arkansas River adventure. Enjoy fantastic whitewater during the day, including rafting Browns Canyon National Monument, and secluded camping at night. This trip departs from Buena Vista, Colorado – near Denver and Colorado Springs, and is suitable for all skill levels and kids ages 8+. Trips run from May 15 - Aug 15.

Adult price : $734


Arkansas River 5 Day Trip

Raft with us on nearly every section we offer, including Browns Canyon National Monument, on the Arkansas River – all in one unforgettable 5 Day trip! With departures between May 15 and Aug 15, rafters of all skill levels and kids ages 8+ are welcome on this adventure. Meet and depart in Buena Vista, Colorado – near Denver and Colorado Springs.

Adult price : $1129


upper bighorn sheep canyon sections

Arkansas River – Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon White Water Rafting Details:

Difficulty: Class II-III (What does this mean?)
Elevation: 7041′ to 6519′
Average Gradient: 27.9′ per mile

Access to Access

Salida Boat Ramp to Salida East: 2.7 miles
Salida East to Rincon: 7.4 miles
Rincon to Vallie Bridge: 8.6 miles
Total Mileage: 18.7 miles

Notes: Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon is a wonderful alternative to many sections on the Arkansas River if you have children that cannot raft due to age restrictions.

Click Here for Current Water Flows



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 – Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon Access Details:

Salida Boat Ramp Access

Arkansas River – Salida Boat Ramp Access Details:

  • Sites: Salida Boat Ramp Access
  • Instructions: Parking alongside ramp or on city streets. Do not block the ramp when parking.
  • Fee: No
Salida East, Rincon & Vallie Bridge Access

Arkansas River – Salida East, Rincon & Vallie Bridge Access Details:

  • Sites: Salida East, Rincon & Vallie 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 ~

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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