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Browns Canyon National Monument. Photo Credit: Bob Wick BLM - OutThere Colorado.
Browns Canyon National Monument. Photo Credit: Bob Wick BLM - OutThere Colorado.
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Browns Canyon National Monument

Things to do

BirdingCampingFishingHikingHorseback RidingHuntingRaftingSnowshoeingWater Activities

A National Monument is a protected area of land of historic, cultural, and/or scientific significance. While the National Parks Service oversees National Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Land Management can all manage National Monuments. Additionally, the office of the President has the power to designate National Monuments (National Parks are designated as such by Congress).

President Obama declared 21,586 acres of forest, rivers, and canyons Browns Canyon National Monument on February 19, 2015. The monument is located between Salida and Buena Vista in view of the Collegiate peaks.

The Arkansas River that runs through Browns Canyon has long been considered one of the most exciting whitewater rafting destinations in the country. The gorgeous scenery and adventurous rapids offer an unforgettable rafting experience. The section of river that runs through Browns Canyon is also gold medal wild trout fishing water.

In addition to the unmatched recreation opportunities that the Arkansas River affords, archeological evidence of human activity in the Browns Canyon region dates back to the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods 13,000 years ago. The Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes claim traditional cultural ties to the area. Early European explorers and miners also flocked to this region, though mining structures and cabins are found outside of the monument geography.

  • Rafting: The section of the Arkansas that runs through Browns Canyon is one of the most popular family rafting destinations in Colorado. The water is rated Class III and IV, meaning the rapids range from tame and scenic to adventurous.
  • Wildlife: Colorado emblematic big game species thrive in the Browns Canyon region. Look for: Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, and coyote. Red fox and American pine marten are also found here as well as a variety of bat species.

Recommended season(s): Monument is open year round and daily. Some sites may be inaccessible in winter.

Sophie Goodman

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