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Our 5 Favorite Places to Camp Near Cotopaxi, Colorado

It’s no secret that we love Colorado here at Arkansas River Tours. It’s where we call home and it’s where we lead epic adventures down the Arkansas River.

We hope you’ll visit us in Cotopaxi, Colorado for some white water rafting or fly fishing. But while you’re here, we highly recommend getting out around the region, and enjoying the expansive wilderness that surrounds us in all directions.

We’ve put together this list of some of our favorite campings spots around Cotopaxi.

Whether you wish to continue your river adventure or break off into the mountains, you’ll find a detour worth making in this list of Colorado campgrounds.

1. Five Points Campground – Arkansas Headwaters State Recreation Area 

Image from The Dyrt user Paul A.

Distance from Cotopaxi: 14.5 miles 

Camp right next to the water and fall asleep to the sound of the gurgling rapids at Five Points campground. These riverbank sites are spacious and perfect for relaxing and stargazing after a long day of rafting. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might want to check out one of the various hiking trails nearby.

2. Echo Canyon Campground

Distance from Cotopaxi: 25 miles 

This campground is smack in the middle of Royal Gorge country. From here you can explore the gorge, or visit Canon City or Colorado Springs. With accessibility to both nature and city variety, you’re going to need some extra time here! If you’re looking for a touch of luxury in the outdoors, Echo Canyon Campground offers cabins with fresh linens and private showers.

3. Cutty’s Hayden Creek Resort 

Distance from Cotopaxi: 7.4 miles 

If you’re traveling to Colorado in an RV, or looking for a touch of luxury in the wilderness, Cutty’s Hayden Creek Resort is the perfect place to call home. You’ll be surrounded by the pointed peaks, the alpine scent, and the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains. And the famous Royal Gorge Bridge is just an hour away. Visit Arkansas River Tours in Cotopaxi before or after your stay, then immerse yourself in central Colorado’s many hiking, horseback riding, and river activities.

4. Hayden Creek Campground 

Distance from Cotopaxi: 9.2 miles 

This secluded campground is great for some peace and quiet. There are only 11 sites and they’re all first-come-first served. But get there early to nab your little piece of nature for the night and you won’t be disappointed.

5. Alvaredo Campground – Pike and San Isabel National Forests

Image from The Dyrt user Rachel H.

Distance from Cotopaxi: 29.5 miles 

Tackle some challenging hikes to high altitude lakes from Alvaredo Campground, located about 45 minutes from Cotopaxi, Colorado. There are facilities for RV, tent, and equestrian campers. It’s a beautiful and remote escape into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

There is so much to explore in Colorado. These campgrounds are just the start. Where will your Colorado adventure take you?


We love rafting the wild waters of the Arkansas River. And we consider ourselves experts on water-based fun. So even though rivers and water slides are totally different things, we had a lot of fun investigating some of the wettest and most thrilling water slides in the world.

Here are a few of the craziest water slides that will make any water-loving-adrenaline-junkie’s dreams come true.

World’s Longest Waterslide

The longest water slide in the world is 1,975 feet (over ⅓ mile) long. It requires 2 hours to inflate and 1,000 gallons of water per hour to operate. That’s a serious commitment, which is part of why you still can’t ride it at Action Park, New Jersey, where it was relocated from New Zealand in 2015.

The slide hasn’t yet received all of its safety certifications in its new home, so you can’t ride it just yet, but it’s impressive to behold.

World’s Tallest and Fastest Body Slide

There are always lines for water slides, especially in the hot summer months. Most people in these lines are climbing to the top to take their turn sliding down. At Mount Kilimanjaro water slide in Rodovia, Brazil, however, there’s another line going in the opposite direction, composed entirely of people who make it to the top of the world’s tallest body slide, chicken out, and promptly begin the long walk back down. About one-third of visitors realize they’ve overestimated their bravery when they reach the top at 164 feet tall. The courageous souls who don’t change their minds reach speeds of up to 57 miles per hour before hurtling into the pool at the bottom.

Water Slide with the Most Sharks

On the Leap of Faith slide on Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, the wildness doesn’t come from the slide itself—it comes from what you’re sliding through. Namely, a lagoon full of sharks. This surprisingly beautiful slide is one of many that emerge from different levels of a Mayan temple. Once you hop into the Leap of Faith, you shoot down a nearly vertical 60-foot tube made from clear plexiglass. This tube quickly plunges beneath the water, and as you slide along, you can watch dozens of sharks swim around you on all sides. It’s a short ride, but the speed and the sharks are enough to get anyone’s heart pumping.

Water Slide with the Scariest Countdown


That’s what riders of the Aqualoop on the Gold Coast of Australia hear before a trap door opens beneath their feet and they plummet down a near vertical incline. The 56-foot descent takes only seconds to complete, but that’s plenty of time to feel your heart in your throat.

The public lands we love and enjoy have been in the crossfire more in the past year than ever before. Just months ago, bill HR 621 was proposed by Utah Congressman Chaffetz, whose mission it was to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands. This land, which belongs to citizens of our country, would have been privatized for mining or drilling purposes, reducing the footprint of what is ours and turning protected land into pilfered land. 

Thankfully, the people spoke out, and bill HR 621 was killed in January.

But this just highlights the current danger faced by our public lands and the need to pay attention to that danger — and how important it is for us to get outdoors. If you love outdoor recreation and our public spaces, getting outside means spending time with what you love. It means reconnecting with the beauty that makes America great. It means taking advantage of what is ours — and leaving it better for the next generation.

Outdoor time puts into perspective what some lawmakers have become blind to: America is more than just a GDP. America is acre after acre of pristine — and protected — land. The moment we stop protecting it is the moment we stop respecting what makes this country great.

By spending time outdoors, we are affirming the existence and protection of our spaces. We are supporting the ethical use of these lands, and encouraging outdoor recreation to continue.

How to spend more time in the outdoors this season

If you’re finding it hard to actually get outside, you’re not alone. There seems to be a growing sentiment among outdoor-loving people that the next thing they do outside needs to bigger, better, longer than the last. The weekend warrior endeavors to spend her entire weekend from sunup on Saturday to sundown on Sunday on the perfectly planned trip.

But she would be just as happy — and would likely get out a lot more — with micro trips: several hours planned in advance or spontaneously embraced, with nothing to do but explore. Put time on your calendar this weekend for a micro trip. Go for 4 hours, spend time outside, and don’t plan too much. Just go! And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to spend every waking hour outside. Setting the precedent of a 4-hour tour lets you relax, have fun, and come back to society refreshed and appreciative.

Make your voice heard and stay in the loop

There is a great set of outdoor enthusiasts who is using their full force to let our leaders know just how much we value our public lands. Perhaps the most prominent is the Keep it Public movement. Keep it Public is a coalition of thought leaders and outdoor enthusiasts united in the name of public lands. If this rings true with you, you can follow along and participate with the coalition through their website. 

At the same time, brands have come to the fore as some of the most committed members of the Keep it Public movement. For instance, Patagonia has been instrumental in publicizing and creating actionable plans around protecting Bears Ears, a section of Utah’s vast wilderness that came in lawmakers’ crosshairs over the last few years. They have gone so far as to create a multimedia experience of Bears Ears, which you can see here

We are united by the outdoors. United in good times and in bad.

And the more time we spend outdoors, the more united we are in its magnificence and protection.

Mother’s day is a day to put aside our routines and celebrate the women who’ve made us who we are today. It’s a tribute to moms everywhere and individually, and this year we want to raise a cold cup of whitewater to the badass ladies who make our world a better place.

As a form of celebration, we want to share empowering, inspiring, celebratory initiatives from other communities and from our own.

Women are a Force of Nature

REI’s Force of Nature campaign is a great example. It celebrates women for what they are: a force of nature, rather than stifling their strength behind pressures to conform or fit in a confined role.

The Future of Adventure is Female

Similarly empowering is Outside Magazine’s women’s issue, which does an excellent job of stimulating discussion around women’s issues, focusing on lady leaders in the adventure and outdoor sports world, and making it clear that “The Future of Adventure is Female.”

Read the exclusive articles from the women’s issue here

To our own lady tribe:

And of course, we want to celebrate the women close to home who inspire us to be better versions of ourself every day.

To our own mothers, we love you. The best role models are the ones who’ve been around since day 1.

To the women in our community, we appreciate you every day.

And to the ladies who will join us on the river this season, from veteran rafters and anglers to first-timers alike. We couldn’t be more excited for you to join us on the journey.

We hope this mother’s day can be a celebration of women across our communities and also the woman who brought us into the world. Here’s to our moms, and here’s to a future full of support and strength!

The thrill of a day on whitewater is only rivaled by the experience of fly fishing its rich depths. That’s why we offer two types of trips: rafting and fishing. Together, they’re the best way to experience a river, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer both types of trips along the Arkansas. The Arkansas River provides some of the best fly fishing in Colorado.

Where To Go Fly Fishing In Colorado

Whatever your ideal fly fishing trip looks like, we offer it. From float fishing trips to overnight fishing trips to half-wading and half-floating to 3-day wilderness trips, our range of offerings lets you experience the best the Arkansas river has to offer.  The best fly fishing in Colorado is with Arkansas River Tours.

If you want to catch Brown and Rainbow Trout on a fly rod, the Arkansas is the river for you.

We service Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Browns Canyon, and Gunnison Gorge.

Bighorn Sheep Canyon is a great option for families and individuals alike, with mellow sections of whitewater and an abundance of fish for every line in your party. Stay overnight to experience both day and night on this incredible section of the Arkansas.

Fly Fishing Float Trips Colorado

Browns Canyon is actually a new national monument as of 2015. The national monument has over 20,000 acres of protected land and some of the best fishing around.

Gunnison Gorge Float Trips

Gunnison Gorge is not only a beautiful landscape, it’s also the perfect place for a wilderness excursion. We hike a mile down into the canyon to reach our put-in, then embark on a 14-mile two-day canyon adventure in one of Colorado’s best Gold Medal fisheries. Read more here.

Fly Fishing Arkansas River

In addition to our options for type of trip, we also offer a range of options for timing on fly fishing float trips in Colorado.

Half-day, full day, after 5 PM or on a 3-day overnight trip, we have you covered.

How To Book Fly Fishing Trips

If you want to experience the thrill of the cast and catch in Colorado’s best fisheries, book your trip or get in touch with us to find the best trip for you!


Our River Manager at Arkansas River Tours, Julie Sutton, is an incredible steward of whitewater and rafting experiences alike.

As a guide, she’s been with us for over 12 years, and before that she spent 7 seasons guiding on the Gauley River in West Virginia.

If there’s one person who knows incredible, transformative river rafting experiences, it’s Julie Sutton. 

She also competes internationally. She served as Team Captain of the USA Women’s Raft Racing Team, a team that took 9th in the world while competing in Indonesia.

Beyond her accolades and many years of expertise, she’s a joy to be around and a paragon of river leadership. She’s an example for all of us to pursue what we love with full force and a fierce paddle. 

Here’s to you, Julie, and here’s to more years of big whitewater and even bigger smiles!


Spring is always an exciting time.

Snow melts, rivers rush, and rafters come out in droves to get the best of Colorado’s rivers. 

This spring is looking as good as ever for rafting, and we couldn’t be more excited to get the season underway. 

But it’s exciting for another reason as well…

Arkansas River Tours is expanding our messaging

In years past, we’ve been a straightforward rafting company. Do you want to raft? Cool, call us up and book a trip.

We’re still a straightforward rafting company, but we’re expanding our brand to be more vocally inclusive of those who may feel left out of regular rafting discussion. Specifically, we’re championing rafting for kids, rafting for seniors, badass rafting ladies, handicapped adventurers, and rafting for all.

It’s simple to have boats and help people down the river. 

We don’t want to be simple. We want to accomplish the more complex mission of speaking to those who want to raft but feel like they haven’t had the chance in the past–or may not have felt like they were wanted in the boat, for whatever reason. That’s one of the reasons we partnered with Craig Hospital to bring our rafting and camping adventures to handicapped thrill seekers.

Because everyone deserves to experience the joys of whitewater. It’s not just for straight white dudes. 

As part of this change, we’re going to be posting here on our blog about inclusive rafting and what that means. One day we’ll highlight the top women of rafting, the next we’ll showcase a Class V ripper, and after we’ll talk about how you can take your aging parents on the river for an experience of a lifetime. 

We couldn’t be more excited to expand our strategic vision, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride. Because it’s always more fun when everyone’s involved.

So grab a paddle, share this post, book a trip, and raft on.

–Emily Marquis, Owner, Arkansas River tours

Written by Travis White

If your particular disability involves a visual impairment, you may think that your physical activity is limited to walking, stationary biking, and weights. Of course, it’s hard to stay motivated to be active if you feel limited, and if you think that your only options for physical activity are boring and uninspired. The good news is that you’re only limited by what you set as your limits. Those with visual impairments can experience many of the same sporting and fitness activities as those with full sight. Here are some tips to get you started.

Make use of a guide (human)

Running, whether on a track, trail, or around the neighborhood, is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to stay healthy and active for those with full sight. For those with a visual impairment, however, it’s not always that easy. But if you employ the expertise of a guide runner, the places you can run are pretty much limitless.

The United States Association of Blind Athletes is a great resource for human-guided assistance:

“The guide runner and blind athlete run in unison with a foot long tether held firmly in the fingers of the guide and athlete. Tethers can be as simple as a shoe string or made of other materials such as leather. The purpose of the tether is to allow freedom of movement for both the blind athlete and the guide, but keep them in close proximity of each other. As they run, the guide becomes a play-by-play announcer of sorts. It is the guide’s responsibility to provide verbal cues to the athlete on matters such as upcoming hills, turns, curbs, uneven footing, where other competitors are in the race, times, etc.”

Make use of a guide (dog)

Guides sometimes walk on all fours and are better conversationalists. For those with a visual impairment, a service dog can offer freedoms that even human guides cannot provide.

Service dogs assist their owners by helping them avoid obstacles, warning them of sudden elevation changes, and when it’s necessary, even disobeying orders if those orders puts them in an unsafe situation. These highly intelligent companions are perfect for visually-impaired people who want to experience activities like hiking, backpacking, and deep woods camping.

Step outside your comfort zone

“Alpine (downhill) skiing is one of the rare opportunities available which allows the blind individual to move freely at speed through time and space. An opportunity to embrace and commune with the primal force of gravity, thus experiencing the sheer exhilaration of controlled mass in motion, in a physically independent setting,” says Brian Santos, a visually-impaired former Paralympic champion.

Skiing is truly special to those with visual impairment. And with the help of a guide, all the fun of the slopes is well within your grasp.

There are two basic ways to make this possible, according to VisionAware:

“The guide remains behind the skier, orienting the skier with verbal descriptions and instructions. This system requires wide slopes with few obstacles; or the guide precedes the skier and provides orientation through verbal instructions as the skier follows the outline of the guide’s body and movements. This system requires fewer precise instructions, since the skier primarily follows the voice and movements of the guide.”

Skiing is just one way to step outside your comfort zone and tackle a sport that’s a little “extreme”.

Want more “extreme” adventure? Try whitewater rafting. Many rafting tours offer opportunities for the visually impaired. With a guide or without, depending on your comfort level, you too can experience the excitement and challenges of rafting.

In fact, those with visual impairment can experience a wide variety of sports like surfing, sailing, and rock climbing. If you can dream of it, it’s probably already been done. Take a cue from those who have forged a path of adventure despite their visual impairment. You can follow in their footsteps.

Rafting was your first love. Your family was your second. But you don’t have to give up one for the other. Take your family rafting this season with just a few changes to your routine.

Bighorn Sheep Canyon

The rush of water and adrenaline, the time on the river, the summer heat… it’s impossible to beat a great season of rafting.

But if you have a family, it’s not the same thrill as it used to be. You might feel guilty if you spend too much time away from them doing your own thing, but if you take them with you may be afraid they’ll get hurt. Here are a couple tips to have you cake and eat it too; to get your family out on the river this season — and actually have a carefree good time.

Safety and communication will put your mind at ease

Companies who champion safety (such as yours truly) are the ones you want to be talking to. Every rafting company talks about safety. It’s a requirement. Some talk about safety only so much as they’re required to, while others are as passionate about a safe experience as they are about a wild one.

If you’re going to take your family out on the river, the only way you can have a good time is if you truly trust your guides. And trust starts with communication. Does the rafting company champion safety as a primary benefit of rafting with them? Or is it buried on their website behind the jeep rentals?

When you find a company that checks out, get on the phone or talk in person. Again, trust comes from communication. Talk to the company you’re going to raft with, learn how they would handle children of different ages, and learn what their education process is like to make sure the kids feel safe as well.

Recognize you’re not going to rip Class V

In your past, the thought of rafting a Class V rapid would have set your heart thumping. Today, the thought of rafting a Class V with your kids will likely give you a heart attack. And for good reason: your kids are probably not suited for a Class V. Not yet.

Gunnison River Trips Colorado

Safety and peace of mind also require you to lower your threshold slightly. You’ll still have a great time with your family on a Class II or III, especially with the knowledge you’re building the future generation of rafters! You’ll find that even a lower-class rapid can be just as fun when you’re sharing it with your family.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, you want to feel a rush, but a rush of excitement rather than one of fear. You can ensure you’re going to have the right kind of rush beforehand, and it all starts with communication. Talk to your kids so they know what to expect. Talk to yourself so you know it’s OK that you’re not going to hit a Class V. Talk to us so you can feel assured that we know how to work with kids of different ages and we know which rapids are best for yours.

You’ll be glad you did, and just those few conversations will set up summer after summer of incredible rafting experiences with your whole squad.