Where Does the Arkansas River Begin?

The Arkansas River begins in Lake County, Colo., near the city of Leadville. The headwaters develop from the snowpack in the Collegiate Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The Arkansas River meanders 1,469 miles eastward through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas before joining the Mississippi River near Napoleon, Ark.

Colorado’s Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area includes 150 miles of the Arkansas River near its source. It offers Class II to Class V rapids for whitewater rafting. The recreation area also offers opportunities for rock climbing, fishing, hiking, camping and mountain biking. Visitors can also pan for gold at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.