Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Recreational Guide: The Arkansas River

October 20th, 2022

Arkansas River GeographyThe Arkansas River headwaters source is near Leadville,Guest Posting Colorado. The river technically ends in the Mississippi, which leads out to the ocean. The river drops 10,000 feet in the first 125 mile stretch. Within this stretch, the River carves through a large canyon now called the Royal Gorge. Because of the rapid drop of elevation, this stretch of river is popular for whitewater rafting and other river recreation. In total, the river drops 11,400 feet and covers a total of 161,000 square miles. The Arkansas River basin drains 24,904 square miles.From Colorado, the Arkansas River then runs through Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, before meeting up with the Mississippi River. In total the river runs 1450 miles, which makes the Arkansas River the longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri water system.Carving out many canyons and gorges, perhaps one of the most well known is the Royal Gorge. With a width of 50 feet at its base and a few hundred feet at its top, and a depth of 1200 feet in places, the 10-mile-long canyon is a narrow, steep crevasse through the granite of Fremont Peak.The Arkansas River is now used as a main waterway for commerce, with the system being formerly called the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System or MKARNS. This specific stretch of the river is 445 miles. It takes a commercial towboat 5 days to travel the MKARNs distance. The commercial stretch of the river has multiple dam and lock systems allowing for greater control over the navigation efforts. The Arkansas River is used for waterway commerce, recreational activities (such as whitewater rafting) and wildlife preservation.Arkansas River HistoryThe Arkansas River was first discovered by Europeans before the Mississippi River in 1541. After Francisco Vasquez de Coronado forded the river, Hernando de Soto was on the lower river, when he later discovered the Mississippi.

White Water Rafting On The Arkansas River, A Colorado Adventure, A Family Affair

March 18th, 2022

Picture this. It’s the 3rd week in June, it’s 10:30 AM, and our party of six and our guide shove off into the cool waters of the Arkansas River Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The 15 minute ride from the office to the departure point was light-hearted and filled with anticipation. The guides added to the excitement with their friendly banter.

After the guides unload the rafts from the bus top and the trailer and the rafts are put into the water, the group gathers around at the river’s edge. Casey, our guide, runs through the safety rules and the worse-case emergency situations with the final question, “So, are you scared yet? Good! Then let’s go.”

Within the next 2 to 3 minutes we practice our left back paddle, right paddle, and all paddle 3 commands. By the end of the rafting trip two hours later, we are just beginning to feel like a team that can respond to our guide’s commands and ride victoriously through the river’s challenges – any challenge. We might at this point be a little over confident. As first-time rafters, we may not know the subtle differences between class II-III rapids and those farther down the river through the Royal Gorge.

Somehow, from our beginning skill level of zero, we manage to ride the rapids, maneuver successfully around the rocks jutting up in the middle of the river (most of them!) and around the rocks that the current drives us toward, and with Casey’s expertise and adventurous spirit we ride down a few rapids backwards.

With some gentle persuasion after I have been well washed with a few soaking rapids, he obliges my request and we meet the next rapid’s challenges with the opposite side of the raft, for my wife’s benefit. She has stayed all too dry up to this point.

How can I describe it? We point the raft straight toward the rapids. “All paddle!” Casey shouts. We all paddle forward. As we hit the first rapid, the front of the raft hardly takes any water. We seem to skim over the troughs formed by the rapids, from top to top. Sometimes as I stroke forward with the paddle to pull it back, I pull air. Only the trough is below us. I can’t reach the water. Then the next wave crashes into the raft, soaking us all, the two leaders in front gasping a breath through the streaming water. From someone in the raft erupts a shout, “Yeah! Wow! What a ride!” And we’re through that set of rapids.