Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
RV Guide


Get a little excitement into your weekend! Adventure awaits as you head out in your RV to hang out at one of the United States' most popular locations for water sports, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Despite the park's name, it's actually nestled outside of Salida, Colorado, but either way, it's a great place to spend your vacation. Famous for its access to water, test out your kayaking and rafting skills on 150 miles of the Arkansas River. This world-class whitewater park is a great place for beginners to fall in love with the outdoor sport during your camping trip. With a total of seven different camping sites, you can relax next to the sounds of rushing water at this beautiful location.

Wildlife abounds, you may even see the unique Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep during your stay! There is no shortage of adventure at this state park for thrill seekers as you can even pan the river for gold. Enjoy gorgeous sunsets, great stories by the campfires, or a fun day out on the water fishing for world-class trout -- this state park has it all. With water, wildlife, and a chance to enjoy Colorado’s wilderness, you’ll want to get here now so don't hesitate - what are you waiting for!

RV Rentals in Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area



Come and make a stop for some fresh air when you visit the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. With 148 miles from Leadville to the Pueblo Reservoir, travel in your RV through the towns of Buena Vista, Salida, Cacon City, and Florence to the park. Once you arrive from Leadville to Salida, there are several access points to the many campgrounds along US-24/US-285. If you travel from Salida to Cacon City, you’ll find access points to the park along US-50. Campers praise this location as one of the best riverside campgrounds in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Get out of the RV and enjoy the variety of basic campgrounds, numerous picnic areas, fishing, water, and trail access points.


It is important to note that in order to camp at this state park, you will need a camping permit or reservation in addition to your daily vehicle park pass. This is a requirement for each day that you plan to camp at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Visitors do use the campground loop as a turnaround point for buses or vans that are dropping rafters off at different access points along the Arkansas River. There are 14 pull-through campsites and the rest are back-in sites on gravel.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Campsites in Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Campground

Travel out with your RV to one of the state park’s 128 campsites on seven different campgrounds. Nestled below the towering peaks of the Saguache and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, six of the seven campsites are on the Arkansas River. This state park provides you with a variety of boat ramps for your canoe or kayak to access the water except for the Five Points campsite. Campsites are offered on a reservations-only system, so visit the state park’s website or call in advance to select your camping spot.

Open 365 days a year, you will get a chance to enjoy dry camping. Most of the sites provide picnic tables, grills, vault toilets, and a tent pad for tent camping. Firewood and water are not available in the campgrounds and the park prohibits the gathering of firewood on site.

Relax to the sounds of the rapids as you camp in your RV. An insider camping tip - if you want to experience some of the thrills of the rapids during your rafting trip, make plans to visit this state park in late spring or early summer. You’ll find that the river runs high during that time since the snow has melted. This park is a great place to enjoy rugged terrain, traveling the popular Arkansas River, and simply getting back to nature.

Seasonal activities in Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area


Winding Holiday Open House

Visit Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area in December to celebrate the holiday season with a free event to all visitors! Enjoy refreshments and animal-themed activities at the Visitor Center. Great for families, solve a mystery as campers investigate tracks and animal skulls. Learn how to build a birdhouse or catch a story during storytime. Sign up for a free raffle drawing or learn from local geologists about your favorite hiking trail.

Fishing The Arkansas River

Cast your line for dinner at one of the best fishing spots in Colorado! Famous for brown trout, take some time to relax and fish from your boat or the river banks during your vacation. Designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission, the river is a Gold Medal trout fishery producing 60 pounds of trout per acre. You will find the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area does provide some of the best fishing along with several areas to enjoy your catch with grills, picnic tables, and gorgeous views of the river and mountains.


Join in one of Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area popular activities of rockhounding during your camping stay. Play amateur geologist as you study and collect a variety of Colorado rocks and minerals from this state park. Make plans to participate in the guided program or for the kids, a Junior Ranger geology program, to learn more about the area as the park’s staff naturalists staff is trained the natural history and geology. For a complete rockhounding list, drop-in to the park’s visitor center to pick one up during your stay.


Get Out On The River

Get out the RV and explore the great Arkansas River. This area is known as one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the country. With breathtaking panoramic views from your raft, being on the water gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Need a little more adventure? Schedule with the state park rangers to participate in a professional rafting trip, which is perfect for older campers. Whitewater boating is another great option. Just make sure to exercise safety first and always wear a lifejacket.

Gold Panning

Did you know that you might strike it rich during your RV vacation to Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area? That's right, the whole family can go gold panning in the majestic waters of the Arkansas River. The area was a hotbed of activity when eager pioneers wanted to make it rich during the gold rush of 1849. To this day, the river is a source for metal ores like silver, copper, and gold. Who knows -- it might be your turn to hit the gold mine!

Hiking and Biking

Perfect for hikers and bikers of all experience levels, walk or cycle the well-maintained trails of this state park. Enjoy awesome views and trails that range from little to no elevation gain to very steep slopes. Shared by both those on foot or by bicycle, explore this state park while getting some fresh air. A great place to access several trails is the Collegiate Peaks Group Picnic Area that is the head of the Midland Bike Trail, the Barbara Whipple Trail, and the Four Mile System, giving you plenty of scenic places to explore.