The Arkansas River: From Leadville to Lamar

The Arkansas River in the state of Colorado is one of the hardest working rivers in the lower 48. With its origin in the snowmelt on the continental divide the river drops nearly 10,000 feet over more than 300 miles. Recreational users, cities and municipalities, and agriculture…all depend on the water that the river collects from its 28,000 square mile basin, the largest river basin in Colorado.

Here’s a trailer from the upcoming documentary to be released by Rocky Mountain PBS.


The upper Arkansas river’s steep gradient and cold water makes it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whitewater rafters, kayakers, fishermen, hikers, and wildlife viewers are drawn to this part of Colorado to enjoy all that the river has to offer.

The Arkansas River just downstream of The Numbers

The river from Canon City to just east of Pueblo begins to slow down as it makes its way onto the Eastern Plains. Here the river encounters the Lake Pueblo dam, part of the Frying Pan Arkansas project approved by congress and President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Lake Pueblo stores water for municipal, industrial, agricultural and recreational interests. Most of the water is collected on the eastern slope of the Rockies mountains, but some of the water is imported from the western slopes, specifically, the Frying Pan river system.

The Lake Pueblo dam spillway
More here…


Sunset on the river east of Pueblo
The lower river is…