Browns Canyon National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument

Buena Vista, Colorado, 81211

The basics

Most visitors head to Browns Canyon National Monument for epic whitewater rafting on the Class II to IV rapids of the Arkansas River as it churns through the granite cliffs of the Royal Gorge. Calmer sections are suitable for families and beginners while still offering plenty of pristine Rocky Mountain scenery. Most rafting tours include all equipment plus paddling instruction and can be combined with other mountain adventures like ziplining and hiking.

For a slower way to enjoy the monument, backcountry hikers will find plenty of uncrowded trails—and Colorado wildlife—near the Ruby Mountain Recreation Site. The San Isabel National Forest is part of the monument and offers excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in the winter. Anglers also flock to this section of the Arkansas River for its abundance of Gold Medal brown and rainbow trout.

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Browns Canyon National Monument Whitewater Rafting
Browns Canyon National Monument Whitewater Rafting
$95.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Great afternoon!
Our guides were great and we had so much fun! Will definitely go through them again when we come back!
Andrea_G, Jul 2023

Things to know before you go

  • The Ruby Mountain Recreation Site trailhead has restrooms, picnic sites, and changing rooms.
  • Pack everything you need for a day in the wilderness, including water, snacks, sun protection, and a first aid kit.
  • Cell phone service may be limited inside the monument.
  • Never go hiking or rafting alone, and wear a life jacket whenever in or near the river.
  • Mountain bikes are not permitted.
  • Trails within the monument are not wheelchair accessible. 
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How to get there

Browns Canyon National Monument is located in Chaffee County between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. All roads to the monument are unpaved; a 4x4 vehicle is recommended if using forest service roads, which are often steep and rocky. Entrance to the monument is free, though a daily park pass is required for parking at the Ruby Mountain or Hecla Junction recreation sites. Guided rafting tours include transport and let you skip the stress of driving.

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Trip ideas

When to get there

The monument is open daily, year round. Visit between late spring and early autumn for the best hiking and river rafting, and go during winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Check for high water advisories and fire restrictions on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website before you go.

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Nearby Attractions

If you have a few days to explore central Colorado, a visit to Browns Canyon National Monument pairs well with other adventures in the southern Rocky Mountains, no matter the season. Soak up the mountain lifestyle and wild west history in beautiful Buena Vista, ski or hike in Breckenridge, or ride to the summit of famous Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs—all within a 2-hour drive or less.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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