Unique Features of the Arkansas River

ark river valleyThe Arkansas River is widely known for rafting, kayaking, fishing and it’s vast array of rich natural resources. This river is often unappreciated, as most people don’t realize that it starts off with just a trickle and eventually grows to become one of the largest rivers in America! Here are 5 unique features of the Arkansas River, of which, you may also have not been aware.


Although, originally home to many different groups of Native Americans and many others for at least 10,000 years, the area only became popular when gold was discovered here in the late 1800’s. Drawing in thousands of people looking to strike it rich, the gold rush increased the population from 300 to 7,000 by the end early 1900’s. Believe it or not, most that came looking for gold fared a decent wage. The rumors of Rubies also contributed to the town’s population boom, but those looking for rubies ended up finding only garnets, which, are not valuable. After the gold rush, the population decreased rapidly, but the love of the river has never faded.

ark headwatersThe river finds its head just a short distance north of Leadville, Colorado, out of Mount Arkansas. This trickle eventually grows to become the 6th longest river in the U.S. and the 45th longest in the world, stretching 1,469 miles! It boasts over 80 rapids and drops some 4,650′ over the course of the river.  The Arkansas River is primarily known for commercially rafting in Colorado, because of its vast offering of rafting trips, for persons of all ages and abilities. The River is also becoming very popular nationally, due to it’s recent nomination for National Monument status, so we can expect to see more interest within the next couple of years! Fifteen of Colorado’s fifty-eight 14’ers are located in the the Arkansas River Valley, including Mount Elbert, which is the highest in the entire Rocky Mountain Range. The rafting, hiking and fishing along and around the Arkansas River, make it a popular destination for people with varied interests, because there are multiple activities to choose from, in one amazingly beautiful area.

There are four designated wildlife areas along the river and there is a proposal to add yet another, so you will be sure to spot some wildlife during your rafting trip, mountain bike trip or when you go on a pleasant mountainous hike. The Arkansas River is full of history and beautiful views, as well as, many activities surrounding. No matter what type of trip you choose, you are sure to have a wonderful time!