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Arkansas River, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

The Arkansas River (or Kicka, as it was known to the Pawnee Nation), sourcing near Leadville, Colorado, flows 1,469 miles across Colorado, Kansas, Northeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas to the confluence of the Mississippi River about 600 miles north of New Orleans. In Colorado, the Arkansas River drops 10,000 feet in 125 miles. It is a cross-section of other Colorado rivers, ranging in difficulty from easy Class II to very technical Class V drops, though most of the river is rated in the range from Class III to IV. The water is cold, the ride is wild and the grandient in the channel is steep. The "flattest" section is below Salida, with a gradient of 23 feet per mile (FPM) and the steepest section is "The Numbers", with a gradient of 71 FPM.

The five popular sections, between Granite and Canon City, total about 102 miles, though the river can be paddled many miles above Granite. Numerous public access points and campgrounds along the way allow paddlers to plan trips of varying lengths and sections. In addition to the five sections described, the Arkansas River offers several runs on feeder creeks that provide some really hairy rides. Most of the creek runs are best left to expert kayakers in playboats or creek boats. The sections and creek runs are described individually at the links below.

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Arkansas River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Granite to Buena Vista ] [ Buena Vista to Stone Bridge ] [ Stone Bridge to Rincon ] [ Rincon to Pinnacle Rock ]
[ Pinnacle Rock to Canon City ] [ Grape Creek ] [ Lake Creek ]

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© February 11, 2003. All rights reserved.
Last updated September 10, 2014

Copyright © 1998-2015, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.