Ruby Mountain Campground- Arkansas Headwaters

Ruby Mountain Campground is situated off a dirt county road neighboring Browns Canyon National Monument and the Arkansas River. The campground also provides a shaded spot for rafters to stop on their journey down the river. It also boasts beautiful views and close accessibility to Buena Vista.

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Views from Site 7 at Ruby Mountain Campground.
We tent camped here a few years ago at a site next to the river. The water flow was high and the noise kept us awake as tent campers, but we enjoyed the area and returned in our camper this summer. I selected site number 7 which is on an upper loop above the entrance road and overlooking the river and mountains. The views from this location are beautiful with river access just down the hill and across the road. It should be noted that this is a dry camping area with no water spigots, electricity, or trash cans. All trash must be packed out and all water brought in by the camper, but it is well worth it. Vault toilets are available in a few locations strategically placed around the campground.

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View of our campsite from a neighboring site.
When we arrived in the late afternoon, a usual summer thunderstorm was growing over the Collegiate Peaks and we decided to eat inside after making dinner. Rain started falling as soon as dinner was prepared and we had a spectacular view of the lightening from our campsite. This gave us time to think about our options for the next day which were many. Rafting is an obvious choice with the river rushing by the campground. Rafting outfitters are available a short drive away and it would be fun to float by this site.

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The town of Buena Vista is directly north of this campground and provides plenty of options for dinner, coffee and lunch out. Mt. Princeton Hotsprings is also a short drive away. With the purchase of a day pass, one can swim and relax in many different hotspring pools or sit directly in the bubbling water in Chalk Creek.

While all of these sounded interesting, we instead took the simple choice of hiking in Browns Canyon National Monument. Saturday brought numerous rafters down the Arkansas River and through the campground. We enjoyed watching the groups make their way through the twisting water during breakfast outside on our picnic table. There is little shade at the campground unless you are tent camping near the river. It’s important to be prepared for the sun here.

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Mountain portion of the hike.
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Valley with Collegiate Peaks in the background.
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Open meadow portion.
We walked to the beginning of the hiking trails. Since we were here four years ago, the campground has been updated with boulders to designate campsites more clearly and the Browns Canyon area signage has improved. The hiking trail we selected weaves up and down gradual mountains, affording varied vegetation and mountain views. The trail travels along a stream, through wooded areas, and finally a large open field. It meanders to points near the water, but we watched as more clouds began forming another thunderstorm and we became tired and ready to return. When we arrived back at the camp to make lunch, there were still several rafters coming down the river and someone tried to SUP from the pull-out at the campground.

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We headed to a public parking area near the end of the road with our fishing supplies to try our luck. The fish were luckier and did not bite that afternoon, but we had fun trying and enjoying the scenery. We drove back to the campground and enjoyed a relaxing evening with only a hint of rain.

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The sites here are spacious with fire rings and picnic tables. Boulders outline each campsite and some gravel keeps the water from standing when it rains, though the road is dirt. Next time we camp here, we will try a few different activities. One activity we thoroughly enjoyed was watching the sun set over the mountains and Arkansas River.

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View of the river from campsite 7 facing south.