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Old 07-02-2013   #1
Madison, Wisconsin
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Flatlander coming to the Arkansas: Campsite recommendations?

A group of us is coming out from Wisconsin to paddle the Arkansas next week (arriving Sunday). I know there are a number of USFS in the Salida/Buena Vista area plus a variety of other types of campgrounds. Last time there we stayed in Monarch Park.

Any recommendations on sites that would make for good week-long basecamps in this area? Able to handle 12 of us (either use a group site or 2 or 3 individual sites together)? Scenic, good access, quiet, etc.

And speaking of the Arkansas, water level looks reasonable. Will it hold? And any warnings or concerns stemming from recent wildfires? I see the Royal Gorge was actually closed for a time. All okay on and off the rivers now? Will campfires be banned?

I'll appreciate any and all helpful information.


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Old 07-02-2013   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Yes. We are in a stage II fire ban currently, and I don't see that changing in the next week. However, the entire river is open to boating and levels are great. They should hold within a hundred cfs or so of where they are now for the next month and a half.

What kind of campsite are you looking for? Would you rather trade river access for privacy? There is camping at both Ruby Mountain and Hecla Junction which are AHRA river access points for Browns Canyon. There is also camping at Railroad Bridge access north of Buena Vista. There are free dispersed campsites in the Numbers north of Railroad Bridge. There is a wide variety of camping options in the dry hills east and above the river (Fourmile Recreation Area).

There are several nice campgrounds on the west side of the valley that have a forested character instead of desert and have better spacing (privacy). Options include Collegiate Peaks Campground on Cottonwood Pass, Cottonwood Lake Campground on the South Fork Cottonwood Creek, Chalk Lake-Mt. Princeton-Cascade all on Chalk Creek up CR 162 as well as plenty of good sites off Poncha Pass near the O'Haver Lake-Silver Creek-Poncha Creek area.

GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences. https://garna.org
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Old 07-02-2013   #3
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
You might think about River Runners by Buena Vista for a week long camping spot. They are right on the river across from the Fisherman Bridge put in. They have showers and spaces with private put in beaches. Shuttle is easy from there as you can probably find one of their guides to help you run it for a small price. Not sure what they charge, but for the amenities they offer, it might be worth it. (lots of girls running around there too)
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Old 07-02-2013   #4
Madison, Wisconsin
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Thanks! Great info

This is very helpful. I think we're placing a bit higher premium on being a little more private and forested. Don't mind a little more driving to get to the river sections each day. I'll track down some of the leads you've given.

Good to hear we'll have water. I guess we'll rely on lanterns for evening illumination.

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Old 07-02-2013   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 405
Not only are campfires banned but so are charcoal grills and all open flames. Although you can still cook on a camp stove....

Fire Restrictions - Chaffee County Sheriff
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Old 07-02-2013   #6
El Chupanibre
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 128
Hecla Junction is by far my favorite campsite, it sits just above the river. Great access point.

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