It’s the end of April, and Coloradans are anxious for summer, the time of year when pine permeates the air, the sun burns shoulders, and bikes, kayaks, and tents are pulled from storage so they can be easily grabbed for a quick getaway.
But then, in classic Colorado-style, a two-foot snow storm pounds the state, leaving most residents moaning about a weekend wasted and the inevitable muddy trails to follow. However, while much of Colorado gripes about the state’s unusual weather pattern, those living in the Arkansas River Valley celebrate.
Because more snow on the valley’s peaks translates into greater water flow for the Arkansas River, which means more visitors, greater economic growth, and above all—more time to surf, splash, and raft.
With several fourteeners in the Arkansas River Valley alone, and twice as many mountains towering above 13,000 feet, the number of snow covered peaks rivals any other location in the state. And in this valley, melted snow trickles into streams, and then into creeks, and finally into one of the country’s greatest whitewater rivers—The Arkansas—making it the premier destination for whitewater rafting in the country.
The world’s top whitewater rafters always come back to the Arkansas because a trip down this river is like no other. With diverse terrain, challenging rapids, gorgeous scenery, and abundant sunshine, no journey is the same. It’s no wonder raft trips are high on a visitor’s activity list. And with dozens of outfitters lining the valley, families, large groups, and small parties all have the chance at having an adventure to last a lifetime.
If you want to plan a vacation to the Arkansas River Valley, and rafting is high on your list, check out American Adventure Expeditions. They offer everything from family float tours to high octane trips down the Numbers, a series of rapids known for tight channels, steep drops, white knuckles, and non-stop action. A newcomer to the valley is The Adventure Hub, located in Buena Vista’s South Main, an urban, riverside neighborhood. While The Adventure Hub also offers several types of raft trips, it gives you a chance to try an inflatable kayak or a SUP (stand up paddle board). If you want to try a little bit of it all—biking, kayaking, climbing, stand up paddle boarding—another great outfitter is the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, which has been a local staple since 1982.
When snow comes in April, we should relish it. It feeds our soil and our rivers, nourishing trees and plants, and supplying world famous whitewater for the thousands of visitors who want a taste of excitement, who want to holler as they tear through rapids, and who want the honor of saying they rafted the mighty Arkansas.
For more information on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, visit www.ahra.com
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Lindsay Diamond is a novelist and freelance writer living in the mountains of central Colorado. Visit writerlindsaydiamond.wordpress.com to learn more.
Photo Credit: Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting