Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area in Salida:

Description: It's an adventure paradise as the river comes alive each spring with snowmelt. The area is one of the more popular whitewater rafting destinations in the country. Kayakers, canoeists and more daring stand-up paddleboarders also take on the river's 150 miles from Leadville to Lake Pueblo. Bring your own craft or hook up with an outfitter that will lead the way to either calm, family-oriented waters or more raucous rapids. Anglers delight in the long stretch of gold medal water. Climbers scale the nearby canyon walls.

Activities: Whitewater rafting, fishing, rock climbing, camping, hiking and biking along trails throughout area.

Wildlife: Bighorn sheep, pronghorn live year-round in the valley, with elk, moose and mountain lions occasionally spotted; brown and rainbow trout averaging 12-14 inches; bald eagles and goshawks among array of birds.

Fun fact: Zebulon Pike - the namesake of Pikes Peak - was the first known American to explore the area.

Address: 307 W. Sackett Ave., Salida, 81201

Contact: 719-539-7289, ahra@state.co.us

Hours: River sites 24 hours.

Directions: Take Colorado 115 south before merging onto U.S. 50 west. After about 68 miles, go north on Colorado 291 and follow to G Street. Turn west onto Sackett Avenue and then follow to visitor center.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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