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Old 05-19-2014   #1
Scottsdale, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 48
first time on the Arkansas river

Hello fellow paddlers,
I am with a small group coming up from AZ to spend a week paddling the Ark. We are planning on coming up the the end of June through the first week of July. We are bringing a 14' raft, kayaks, and a whitewater canoe. We are all solid class III boaters use to running the Salt /Verde and all have Grand experience. My questions are:

1- I know it is hard to predict but what are the flows like in the beginning of July?

2- Do you have any recommendations on where to camp. We were going to have a base camp and run different day sections.

3- What section should we do 1st, 2nd, and so on. (list the sections in order of difficulty)

4- will we still need dry suits at that time? Would splash gear be enough?

Thanks in advance,

dsmoake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #2
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
1) Huge this year!

2) Hecla or Ruby Mountain- go to Reserve America website and pit in Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area and you will get access to a ton of available camping in the area- including Hecla and Ruby.

3) I would recommend a warm up on Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Put in just east of Salida and float to Rincon take out.

4) Splash should be OK

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Osseous is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #3
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Very hard to predict. I would guess somewhere between 1500-5000...

Hecla and Ruby are good choices, as are Salida East and Frog/Elephant Rock. Bighorn Campground in Coaldale and the dispersed camping at #6 are worth mentioning as well.

Flows will determine what you should run first... I will list them with the left choice being 3000+ and the right side being less than 3000...

Texas Creek to Pinnacle Rock/Browns Canyon
Browns Canyon/Royal Gorge

If flows are up over 3000 you might want to have the drysuit, lower flows splash gear will be fine. Obviously you are more likely to want the drysuit on Numbers than Pinnacle Rock...

Just my opinion.
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 05-21-2014   #4
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 36
Dave - I live Salida, about 3 blks from the river. Know it well, and we are on it in all sorts of crafts from now through fall. I am running it this Thursday in fact with all the 3rd graders, as their class outing - major fun. You'll hit most likely peak flows or right after the peak, which usually occurs for our FibArk River Festival on Fathers Day weekend, just before you will be here (races, Hooligans race with homemade rafts, etc). We use cfs at either our Brown's Canyon take out at Hecla Junction, or Salida town gauge (see USGS) for our flows - she's at about 1000+/- now, but with our huge pack in the mtns, will go to big levels of I'll bet 5000-6000 cfs by mid-late June. Melt has not really started big time, but baby it's coming soon. Ruby Mtn campground right by river is run by the State, and is located just behind Fishermans Bridge put in which can be very busy with buses, so it's quieter, and nice camps - this is great put-in for Browns Canyon. You might as well just jump in for a Browns Canyon day first, and either takeout at Hecla, or heck run all the way down for a full day to Stone Bridge takeout off Hwy 291. Browns will be solid Cl III if high, some IV if over 2500. At 4000-6000 cfs, it is a true gas, but wow is it fast, and best to follow someone down, as it is a wild ride. You can barely get under Stone Bridge at those highest levels, portage on RT side. The stretch above Buena Vista is called the Numbers, with a section called the Fractions below that, with a take out often right in BV. This is serious Cl IV, action packed boulder gardens, lots of big holes to miss, and it does not forgive. That said, it's some of the most fun water you will ever get on, but be careful of the level - best place to get a feel for it, is drive over the bridge going from Hwy 24 (Otero Pump Station turn), and park by bridge to hike up and down from there to ck out what you got - the biggest rapid is #5, right on the next RT hand bend, downstream of the bridge - if it looks aok to you, and you like it, do it, but stay alert, watch for larger holes, and dig deep. Other runs to do on Ark will seem too tame after those, except of course -- the Royal Gorge above Canon City. It is big volume WW, and if it is anywhere near 2500-3000 cfs, moves real fast w/o time to scout. From 2500 down on the Gorge, you can eddy scout, and just read/run, have fun, stay alert, over that it's super grande and lots of flips. Clothing - farmer john with fleece and paddle jacket is what I use, booties nice - very cold water. Needs helmets even in raft, and at least a couple extra paddles strapped on raft, every craft has to have throw bag. Again, if it is high maybe follow a commercial group down or team up with others that know it. There is no walking out of there, though the tourist train has helped with evacs, as they will be watching you from the rails. Lastly, enjoy the Eddyline Brewpub in BV, and the Boathouse Cantina in Salida, which is right above the playhole in town, window open up in summer to watch the antics. There are excellent camps just downstream from Salida along the river, some free like Salida East, some for a few bucks a nt.
Bobby Ladd is offline   Reply With Quote

ark, arkansas, arkansas river

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