Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Stories From The Water

Back to Stories From The Water

Arkansas River Flows for Rest of Season – Fast and Furious

a man riding a wave on a raft

a small boat in a body of water
CANON CITY – Despite a dry summer, water flows on the Arkansas River are providing plenty of whitewater for rafting and kayaking enthusiasts.

“The whitewater boating has been spectacular to date,” said Rob White, manager of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. “With the hot weather, (visitors can) cool off by enjoying a whitewater boating trip on the Arkansas River.”

White credits the cooperation between federal, state and local officials working with public and private water users to manage flows in the river.

“In such a dry year as this, it takes a lot of cooperation from a variety of water interests to ensure a great whitewater boating season,” White said. “We appreciate the fact that Pueblo Water moved some of its water from Clear Creek to Lake Pueblo in late June.

“In addition, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District has assured us that we will have 10,000-plus acre feet of water available for the Voluntary Flow Management Program this summer.”

The flow management program is used to buoy water flows of 700 cubic feet per second through Aug. 15, so rafters and kayakers can take advantage of summer boating opportunities.

“The additional flow management program water helps ensure great flows for rafting and kayaking through the hottest of the summer months,” White explained.

Last year, close to 50 different commercial outfitters along the Arkansas River provided trips for more than 223,000 guests, making the Arkansas the most commercially rafted river in the nation. The Arkansas is also the most popular river in Colorado, with a market share of 38.6 percent.

That is big business for the Upper Arkansas River Valley, resulting in $29 million in direct expenditures and an overall economic impact of $74.4 million, according to the annual report compiled for Colorado River Outfitters Association.

During the rest of the year, the flow management program is used to protect and enhance the fishery by boosting minimum flows to protect trout. As a result, the Arkansas River has been named a gold medal fishery because of its world-class brown and rainbow trout fishing opportunities.

The recreation area maintains a list of rafting outfitters that provide a variety of whitewater experiences, as well as a list of public access areas ideal for fishing. Go to to learn more.

Article courtesy of: