History of Browns Canyon, Colorado – the Most Popular Whitewater in the Country

The notorious Browns Canyon lies between Buena Vista and Salida in Chaffee County, Colorado.  With elevation ranges from 7,300 feet to 10,000 feet, the canyon provides awe-inspiring scenery with views of the Arkansas River Valley and the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Arkansas River sculpts Browns Canyon, running through granite cliffs and rock outcroppings. With extreme elevation changes and the area’s geology and unique ecosystem for wildlife, it is obvious why Browns Canyon is a popular destination for hikers, rafters, students of conservation, and those just on the hunt for a beautiful view.

Rafting Browns Canyon

Those who come for the rafting experience won’t leave disappointed. Raft through a boulder-strewn canyon to large exciting rapids, then pause and catch your breath in the calmer pools that follow. The area of the Arkansas River running through Browns Canyon is the most popular in the United States.

Mining in Colorado

To truly understand and appreciate why national attention towards conservation of the canyon is so vital to Colorado, we must first acknowledge our past. Many ares in the state made their come up with mining, as it was an integral part of developing Colorado. According to Westernmininghistory.com, between 1927 and 1949, the area yielded about 130,000 tons of commercial grade fluorspar valued at nearly 5 million dollars. Evidence of Colorado’s mining history can be discovered throughout the canyon, as hikers can spot old cabins and huts were the miners used to live while working.

Conservation of Browns Canyon

Conservation efforts began back in 1980 when the Federal Bureau of Land Management designated the area of Browns Canyon for wilderness study, which prevented anyone from mining there. When the ban ended back in 2011, two groups immediately filed for mining claims along the Arkansas River. The claimants were seeking gold. Gold Mining operations are hardly the harmless process some may picture, like a miner panning for nuggets in a stream. Retrieving enough gold to make an 18-karat wedding band means extracting 20 tons of ore and waste rock. If proper waste removal procedures aren’t followed, experts say 20 tons of waste can be produced from that same ring.

Browns Canyon National Monument

Former President Barack Obama visited Browns Canyon in 2015. While there, Obama designated 21,586 acres of unspoiled canyons, rivers and backcountry forest in Colorado as the Browns Canyon National Monument.  By doing this, it furthered the American ideal of nature conservation and stressing the value placed on protection of this unique ecosystem. Whether by raft or on foot, now that Browns Canyon is a national monument, it is protected and visitors can continue to enjoy the unspoiled beauty and the spectacular views.

Come enjoy the incredible scenery and thrilling rapids the Browns Canyon has to offer this year!  Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting is currently running great deals on 2018 rafting adventures.  Book today!