An Itinerary for Rafting Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River

(This trip is what we’ve done as a family and with visiting relatives & friends)

Make your Rafting reservations as soon as possible. For online reservations or by phone, use "PLAY" to get a discount.

Rise & Shine! Get up early and have a hearty breakfast, leaving home at 6:30 AM to arrive at Noah’s Ark at 8:00AM.  Pack lunches in a cooler if you want to save a little time and $.  Also, don’t forget Sunscreen!

The Drive

    • Challenge your passengers to watch for wildlife: On Hwy 24, Woodland Park to Wilkerson Pass Lookout, watch for deer and elk in the meadows along the highway.
    • After Wilkerson Pass, you descend into the South Park basin.  From the pass to Hartsel, watch for buffalo and antelope on either side of the road.
    • After Hwy 24 merges with Hwy 285, you’re coming into San Isabel National Forest.  Deer and elk will often be in the meadows along the road.

Noah’s Ark

    • Check in at Noah’s Ark. You’ll be given your equipment, an excellent safety briefing and options for which kind of boat to take. 
    • Have a great trip!
    • Noah’s Ark will return you by bus to your car. 

St Elmo

    • Head south on US 285 to Nathrop.  Turn right on HWY 162 towards Chalk Creek Canyon.  After 5 miles you will pass thru Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.  Established in the 19th century it is now in operation as a modern hot springs resort.  (Some of your “water-people” may want to be dropped off here instead of going on up the canyon.)
    • On the right is the Chalk Cliffs, an unusual geologic formation making up a large area of mountainside.  Legend going back to the 17th century holds that a group of Spaniards desperately fleeing from hostile Indians threw their store of gold into the crevices of the Chalk Cliffs, where it is still waiting to be rediscovered.
    • Chalk Creek Canyon climbs gradually between the steep, rugged face of Mt. Antero on the left and the south face of Mt. Princeton on the right.  The canyon offers a number of scenic views. Soon after the Chalk Cliffs you pass Agnes Veil Falls on the right with an easy hike to the falls.  Further up C.R. 162 on the left is manmade Chalk Lake (stocked with trout).  Up the hill on the right is the Cascades section of Chalk Creek, with Cascades Canyon rising to the north high above it.
    • The road next reaches the first old town site of Alpine, which by 1880 had a population of 500.  Besides mining, the Alpine Smelter was the main source of income.  The town consisted of a number of false front stores, saloons, and the ever-present western dance hall.  There were 2 hotels, 3 livery stables, 3 banks, a school, a church, a newspaper, and a stagecoach stop.
    • Proceeding west you are driving on the old narrow gauge railroad right-of-way of the Denver, South Park, & Pacific Railroad to St. Elmo.  You may take a right turn just before entering St. Elmo and drive one mile to get a glimpse of history at the Iron City Cemetery with its very interesting tombstones.  The cemetery is all that is left of a town which was once able to boast its own reservoir and power generating plant.
    • The town of St. Elmo is an authentic Colorado mining town, and is now a National Historic Site.  When entering St. Elmo the remains of the mill pond can still be seen.  The pond served as a swimming hole in the summer and an ice skating pond in winter.  It seems unbelievable today that the now remote, deserted ghost town boasted a population of over 2,000 a hundred years ago!   St. Elmo was the railhead for the Denver, South Park, & Pacific Railroad until the line was completed to Gunnison through the Alpine Tunnel.  The last train passed through St. Elmo in 1926.  The main attraction for our kids was the chipmunk crossing and an ice cream.
    • Have a 4-wheel drive vehicle? If so, take the spectacular drive up to Tincup Pass.
    • Otherwise, head back down the canyon to Mt Princeton Hot Springs.

Princeton Hot Springs

    • Relax in the pools for as long as you can

Hungry? We always stop at Coyote Cantina Restaurant in Johnson Village (or you can go to Buena Vista for fast-food and other restaurants)

Go home exhausted! (Watch for animals on Hwy 24)