Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea), a Colorado state park, is responsible for camping along the river, both in designated campsites and nondesignated sites.
Seven established campgrounds can be found along the Arkansas River: Railroad Bridge, Ruby Mountain, Hecla Junction, Salida East, Rincon, Vallie Bridge and Five Points, stretching from near Buena Vista downriver into Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
With the exception of the 14 primitive sites at Salida East, which remain walk-up sites on a first-come first-served basis, all campsites within the AHRA must be reserved in advance. Reservations can be made online or by calling 800-244-5613.
Vehicle park passes are also required for any vehicle entering a campground. A daily parks pass can be purchased at the self-serve station (cash or check only) at the campground entrance.
Campers are not allowed to spend more than 14 days, out of 45 consecutive days, camping in any designated or nondesignated camping spot.
Campgrounds are open 365 days a year, depending on weather.
Campers must obey any fire restrictions put in effect by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office (chaffeesheriff.org). Campers in designated campsites must use pre-established campfire areas.
For campers along the river in nondesignated camping spots, a fire pan with 2-inch rigid sides must be used for campfires, and it must be elevated off the ground.
Riverside campers must also use waste disposal toilets, which must be packed out along with any trash.
Campgrounds do not have any hook-ups or potable water. Campers will need to supply their own.