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Editor’s letter

Serendipitous siren best describes a flowing river. The Arkansas River produces such sounds — pleasant tinkling, trickling, gurgling, babbling, all the way to the frightening sounds of charging waters channeled into restrictive walled canyons, creating a roar reminiscent of locomotives pulling a freight train. People of all ages are drawn to its banks to see it, enjoy it. Others climb aboard crafts to ride its current.
Another factor in serendipity is not planned. Who knew this editor would begin life in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the river is a slow moving, giant force for commerce. Later, there would be living stints in La Junta, Rocky Ford, Pueblo, Salida (twice now) and Buena Vista, all right on the Arkansas. While living in Buena Vista (and working underground at Leadville’s molybdenum mine), a son would be born in the old Salida hospital. The river became his summer calling as a Class V river guide, trainer and swift water rescue instructor, recycling the snows of Monarch Mountain, where he’s a ski patroller.
Out on the plains, the river slowly meanders; it’s nothing like here in the Upper Arkansas Valley. From Cañon City’s Royal Gorge upstream through Texas Creek, Cotopaxi, Coaldale, Howard, Swissvale, Salida, Buena Vista, and the starting point above Leadville, the river is paramount. From Pine Creek’s Class V rapids, to the Class IVs of the Numbers, the Arkansas begs to be tamed.
DISCOVER 2018 presents the Arkansas River story from the perspectives of those who know her well:
Writing on the river, Lynda La Rocca, a longtime freelancer who just moved downriver from Twin Lakes to Salida; fishing outfitter, water board member and county commissioner Greg Felt; veteran raft, kayak and SUP guide from Leadville, Tim McDonald; another experienced rafter and head guide, Krista Kiratibutr Martinson; Joe Stone’s story on FIBArk, the whitewater festival that helped put Salida on the map; Cassie Baldauf offers her take on 88-year-old Don Puterbaugh, the premier fishing guide, now retired; and Bekah Grim reveals River Rat Ray of Salida, who makes a living repairing river equipment when not running the river, despite battling MS.
The Arkansas has long attracted life and livelihood — Native Americans, explorers, miners, railroaders, farmers and ranchers, and now an active lifestyle of recreational and cultural tourism.
Welcome to the heart of Colorado.
Miles F. Porter IV

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher, Arkansas Valley Publishing Co. Contact AVP at 719-539-6691; 125 Second St., POB 189, Salida, CO 81201-0189;


Colorado’s highest peaks, breathtaking scenery, rafting, hot springs, hiking, skiing, fishing, biking, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, historic towns, the arts — they’re all here, awaiting your discovery, in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, the heart of Colorado.

What visitors find in the Upper Arkansas are all the features making Colorado the attraction that it is — sans the glitz.

From Leadville in the north, through Buena Vista and south to Salida and Poncha Springs, the Upper Arkansas offers activities of interest and appeal to the entire family, all with a down-home lifestyle.

A summer day might include an Arkansas River raft trip through Browns Canyon National Monument, a mountain bike ride, fishing Gold Medal water, a hike or even bagging a nearby fourteener.

In winter, two great ski and snowboarding areas, Monarch and Cooper, offer family fun on the slopes. And snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding provide alternative fun in the snow.

Hot springs, quaint downtowns, shops and galleries, breweries and distilleries and a variety of dining choices are available anytime of the year.

Featured in this first issue of Discover is the Sawatch Range, the mountains dominating the valley’s western horizon. With 14,440-foot Mount Elbert, the state’s highest and the second highest in the lower 48, the Sawatch includes four of Colorado’s five highest peaks, the famed fourteeners.

The range starts just north of Leadville with 14,009-foot Mount of the Holy Cross. Heading south are Elbert and the state’s second highest peaks, 14,221-foot Mounts Massive and Harvard. Near Buena Vista are the Sawatch’s Collegiate Peaks: Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Oxford.

West of Salida are Shavano and Tabeguache, at 14,231 and 14,162 feet, the southernmost fourteeners in the range.

In addition, near Leadville are five more fourteeners: Mounts Democrat, 14,155; Bross, 14,172; Cameron, 14,238; Lincoln, 14,293; and Sherman, 14,036.

Also in this magazine are features about the people who live, work and play in the Upper Arkansas. Their stories give an idea of lifestyles found here.
Turn the pages.

Discover for yourself the best Colorado has to offer — the Upper Arkansas Valley.

— Merle Baranczyk, Publisher

Digital Edition

Hot Springs


Colorado is home to an abundance of thermal hot springs.