Apr 26, 2017
The Big Bend of the Arkansas, several miles north of Poncha Springs, is noteworthy as a landmark and as a launch point/river access. Geographically, the Big Bend is where the Arkansas River rotates its access from north-south upstream to east-west as one continues downstream. This has repercussions for the amount of sun on the water, particularly in the winter when the upstream canyons get a short window of sunlight through the middle of each day. Located just off US 285 on County Road 163, the Big Bend state park access includes a boat ramp and restrooms. It is a good take-out for trips coming down from Browns Canyon or as a put-in for a half-day float to Salida East or a full day to Rincon. Unfortunately, since the boat ramp is located on a side-channel of the Arkansas, one has to drag the boat over some shoals to get into the main channel at flows below 500 cfs or so.
The Big Bend is also the upstream approach to the many State Wildlife Areas and fishing easements held by Colorado Parks and Wildlife upstream of Salida. Following CR 163 and 160 downstream, one will pass many well-marked parking areas for wade fishing access to this gentle section of the Arkansas.