Rocky Mountains

Headwaters Trail

Wildlife of the Upper Arkansas Valley

The Arkansas River, the lifeblood of southeast Colorado, starts high in the Sawatch Range, meandering through mountain valleys and thundering through steep-sided gorges before finally streaming across the southeast plains. This trail follows the upper portions of the Arkansas from its origins above treeline down to pinyon-juniper covered hills and shallow canyons. Wildlife along the trail varies accordingly, with chances to spot ptarmigans or mountain goats on Cottonwood Pass, Pinyon Jays at the Fourmile Travel Management Area, and wintering eagles or waterfowl on the lakes on the floor of the valley. But birds are not the only reason to drive this route. The scenery features the highest peak in the state (Mount Elbert), the largest peak in the state (Mount Massive), one of the most distinctive peaks in the state (Mount Princeton), as well as the beginnings of what becomes the Royal Gorge further down-stream. The Upper Arkansas valley is a destination that will enthrall any nature lover.