The Browns Canyon National Monument is an area around the Arkansas River that's long been a popular recreational area.
The nearly 22,000-acre area of the Arkansas River that is contained within the Browns Canyon National Monument is the United States' most popular place for whitewater rafting. It is also popular for its hiking and fishing opportunities.
Prior to becoming a National Monument in 2015, the area had also been popular with hunters. With the designation, animals such as bighorn sheep, elk, and golden eagles are more protected.
The stretch of river inside the Browns Canyon National Monument runs from the town of Buena Vista to the town of Salida. Mountain bikes are not permitted inside the monument.
Flowing through four states, the Arkansas River is the sixth longest river in the United States. Its source basin and Arkansas River Canyon can be found in Colorado, where it is a popular spot to go whitewater rafting. It runs past the Rocky Mountains and drops extensively as it flows through the valley, creating the conditions that are good for rafting and kayaking. Depending on the section of the river there is everything from Class IV and V rapids to gentler II and III sections that are ideal for beginners. Waters weave scenically in and through canyons and gorges surrounded by thick forest and snow-capped peaks.
Aside from boating and fishing, visitors to the Arkansas River often utilize the facilities and the beautiful backdrop for activities such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, birding, and rock climbing. There is also great fly fishing in this part of the river, particularly for trout.
The Arkansas River is located about 120 miles from Denver and 90 miles west of Colorado Springs. There may be fees to access parts of the river, but most of the recreation facilities are free to use. There is a visitors center for the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area located in Salida.