Colorado Part 2

Kayakers along the River
Hecla Junction, north of Salida, CO, is one of 6 campgrounds offered in the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area.  All of the campgrounds, in the 150-mile stretch of recreation area, border the River.  Hecla Junction is a popular take out point for kayakers and rafters that enter the river further north.  However, later in the day as the watersports subside for the day, the Arkansas turns into a tranquil fishing site.  In the AHRA, everything you need must be brought in and carried out.  While most
Alan fly fishing for trout
public parks offer at least occasional water faucets and dumpsters for trash, due to the size of the Recreation Area and expense of the providing the services, they are not available.  What you do find is dramatic scenery, hiking, fishing and the aforementioned whitewater activities.   The rapids on the river ranges from a difficulty level of Class 3-5 in the spring to a friendlier Class 1-3 later in summer.  Numerous companies offer guided rafting and kayak drop off and pickup services in the surrounding area.

Joshua Been painting along the Arkansas River
We focused on fishing and hiking but Alan also found this a perfect area to pull out his watercolors and do some plein air painting.  A trail running along the river south of the park provides not only a relatively level walking experience, but also easy access to the river for trout fishing.  Our first morning on the trail we found Joshua Been, a Salida artist, completing a commissioned plein air oil painting of the Arkansas.  Josh filled us in briefly on the town of Salida, which we had past through the previous day.  Unable to find parking for our rig due to an art festival, we had missed experiencing the town.

Backtracking for a day, we found that Salida calls itself  “the biggest little art town
Josh's sidekick, Sierra
in Colorado.”   The art district, which is located in the center of town, offers a variety of talented artist.  There are 19 artist owned galleries in the district.  Visiting Joshua’s gallery, Virtuosity, we met up with him again and were able to see the completed and framed piece he had been working on earlier in the day.  Check out his website at to see some of his work.  Lunch at the popular Poughboy, Farm to Table Restaurant and Store provided us with a healthy lunch and farm fresh, organic veggies to stock up our kitchen.  For bikers, the town offers family-friendly and more challenging mountain biking options. 

At Twin Lakes
White Star campground at Twin Lakes is part of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest about 20 miles south of Leadville and our next camp.   Miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and trout fishing are available.  These glacially formed lakes are linked by a narrow channel reflecting the nearby mountain range, and are just incredibly beautiful.
Lake Turquoise

From here we headed up to Leadville, despite its name, the town originated as a gold and then silver mining town.  We happened to come into the area as the town was preparing for the Leadville 100-mile "Race Across the Sky" Trail Run, this bike event draws hundreds of bikers and thousands of spectators.  We lucked into a camping spot within a wilderness refuge at Lake Turquoise, in spite of the races.  Opting for a bit of mountain biking around the lake, we found that mountain
Alan along the Lake Turquoise trail
biking at 10,000 feet is a bit more challenging than the Sunday morning workout we do when we’re back home at sea level.  The 12-mile trail/road trip provides a fabulous view of the lake and surrounding mountains.  We managed to finish about 1 mile before huffing and puffing and turning back.

Delaying our start due to the 30-degree morning temperature, once it warmed up
Taking a break along Lk. Turquoise
a bit we headed out. Brown, rainbow, mackinaw and cutthroat trout make their home in Lake Turquoise, so we climbed into our kayaks and headed out into the lake to try our luck.  Four hours later we returned to shore; I lucked into one rainbow, so now I’m up on Alan 3 to 0.

Now we’re headed up to Frisco.  Friends, Rich and Gloria, had recommended a downhill bike ride from Vail Pass to Frisco, now that’s our kind of trip!

Rocky Mountain view along our drive

Twin Lakes from the trail

Twin Lakes trail

Heading into Leadville

At Twin Lake

At Twin Lake
At Twin Lake

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