10 Best Kayaking Destinations In Colorado


Kayaking is one of the best ways to get closer to nature. This amazing recreational activity not only bonds you with the waters but also gets you enjoying the surrounding vegetation and the blue sky.

Watch beautiful species of fish swim in the water. Listen to the soul-soothing bird melodies. And catch a glimpse of small animals trotting under bushes. There is no better way to adventure the natural world than by hopping into a kayak.

Colorado hosts some of the most charming spots for kayaking in the world. From adrenaline rushing whitewater rapids to calm lakes and scenic rivers, paddling in Colorado will give you an unforgettable experience.

If you are planning a paddling trip to the US, Colorado should be on top of the list. You will kayak through mountain valleys and green forests, with spectacular wildlife everywhere. Below are our 10 best places for kayaking in Colorado that will give you a thrilling kayaking and whitewater adventure.

1. Browns Canyon

Browns Canyon is considered the most popular spot for whitewater rafting in the US. With Arkansas River being the heart of this spectacular spot, you are guaranteed the most enjoyable paddling experience where you will be surrounded by bountiful wildlife.

You can hire inflatable kayaks and other essential paddling gear such as a wetsuit, personal floatation device, and a kayak helmet on site. For people who are just learning how to kayak, paddling lessons are available too.

If you love fishing, the Arkansas River will get you having a time of your life with channel fish, blue catfish, sauger, flathead catfish, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, white bass, striped sunfish, spotted sunfish, bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, and crappie.

For people who fancy spending the night in the woods, Ruby Mountain Campground will be a nice place to set up a tent. With good access to the Arkansas River, this campground will provide a great resting place after a long day of fishing and slicing the water.

2. Lake Dillon

This is yet another magnificent spot for Colorado kayaking. Located in Summit County, Lake Dillon (Dillon Reservoir) is surrounded by beautiful wild scenery and mountains. You can paddle through the freshwater, spend the day fishing, or explore the islands and the shores.

Frisco Marina and Dillon Marina provide a great place to launch your boat. If you love beach picnics, there are plenty of spots along the shore where you can get one going. And once you are bored with the reservoir, you can sweep your way to the lake on Sentinel Island.

If you are planning an overnight kayaking trip or to spend a few days adventuring Lake Dillon and the surrounding areas, there are lots of campsites around this place. Just bring your best camping gear, a few bottles of clean water, and snacks and you will be good to go. There are many shops in Dillon and Frisco too, so even if you will be spending the night in the wild, you will still enjoy a little bit of civilization.

There are varieties of services provided at Frisco Bay Marina including sit-in and tandem kayak rentals. If you would like to add fishing into your paddling, you can get a fishing license and all the gear you need from here too.

3. Denver

Who said you can’t get a thrilling paddling experience in the heart of a huge city? Well, try Downtown Denver and you will realize that some of these places actually offer some breathtaking water sporting moments. There is even a dedicated section for whitewater kayaking at the Confluence Park.

The popular man-made white water section is served by the South Platte River and consists of Class III rapids. Kayakers and tubers flock in this area at different times of the year to enjoy the waters. Though Downtown Denver is one of the best places for kayaking in Colorado, sometimes, especially during summer, the water may not be as clean as you would want it to be, due to its urban location.

You can rent whitewater kayaks and other paddling equipment like neoprene clothing, life jacket, and helmet from Confluence Park. They also offer kayaking lessons and equipment repair.

4. Lake Estes

Estes Park Valley houses some of the most gorgeous sceneries. Lake Estes is one of these and lists among the top spots for Colorado kayaking.

Covering about 185 acres, this lake provides calm waters for anyone who is looking to have a relaxing kayaking trip. Elks visit the lake quite often to wade and drink, so it would be the perfect place for wildlife junkies too. Lake Estes is also known for its abundance of walleyes, tiger muskies, yellow perch, and brown trout, so bring your fishing kayak or rent one from Lake Estes Marina and get the party going.

If you are looking to try out more severe stunts, the Big Thomson River that flows from Lake Estes can help you with that. It features a series of Class IV rapids that could add a little pleasure to your trip.

Motorized kayaks and boats are banned everywhere in the park. If you will be bringing your own watercraft, however, you can launch it on any of the park’s lakes apart from Bear Lake. Just make sure it does not have a motor.

5. Rio Grande


The Rio Grande will get you slicing the waters of one of the most famed waterways in the world. Paddle through rapids of varying levels of difficulty as you enjoy the mountains, vegetation, and wilderness surrounding you.

There are a couple of points of entry along the river, the most popular one being at the Thirty Mile Campground. The put-in point at the Rio Grande Campground all the way to South Fork town is one of the best sections for boating.

The South Fork town has shops where you can rent a vessel for the day. Whether you want a tandem, duckie, or sit-on-top kayak, you can get it here at a fair price and enjoy hours of the self-guided trip along the Rio Grande.

6. Pueblo Lake

Pueblo Lake is another favorite spot for jet skiing, canoeing, and kayaking in Colorado. The Lake covers about 4600 acres of water and is one of the best places for those who are just getting started with kayaking. For fishing enthusiasts, this is also a perfect spot for angling. However, the unique scenery and clear waters draw visitors from all over Colorado for various reasons.

To access the lake, you can rent kayaking gear from one of the marinas. Pueblo Lake is one of the busiest in the region so if you are a beginner, you may want to come here when it is less crowded. Weekdays will be your best bet because not so many people will be navigating the waters at the time.

There are campgrounds at Lake Pueblo State Park for those who are planning a multi-day trip. The mountain biking trails and hiking trails found here will also be perfect for anyone who would like to do a few days’ hiking or backpacking trip.

7. Chatfield Reservoir

This is a popular spot for kayaking for people residing in the Front Range. Both expert and beginner kayakers come here to enjoy the sport. But boat wakes can make the waters choppy, so if you are a beginner, you should paddle in Roxborough Bay, where there are fewer boats.

There are several marinas where you can hire a yak and a couple of access points to enter the reservoir. With a stunning mountain backdrop and beautiful grasslands along the shore, you are bound to catch a glimpse of some of the most amazing natural wonders of Colorado.

8. Upper Colorado River

Colorado River is famous for its rapids but the upper side of it provides waters that are pretty easy to navigate for both beginners and advanced paddlers. To enter the Upper Colorado River, you will need to head to Kremmling. Along the river, expect to see the splendid Colorado forest, wondrous canyons, and gorgeous wildflowers.

Guided tours are available, so you really don’t have to be the most experienced kayaker to paddle here. However, it is still important to have a few kayak self-rescue techniques under your sleeve because even though the guide will go with you, you will be riding your own kayak.

Guided trips are great if you are planning a family kayaking trip. It is important, however, to note that most guided tours will only allow kids that are ten years and above.

9. Eleven Mile Reservoir

For those who want to see unique rock formations, this is the spot. Sure, you won’t be seeing lots of trees here like in other places for Colorado kayaking, but tell you what, the rock outcroppings will provide a great feast for your eyes.

Eleven Mile Reservoir covers quite a large area so you won’t have to worry about crashing into other boats even on busy days. However, you still need to be careful as there are times when the area can get quite windy and send your kayak flipping. Your best bet? Practice getting back in a kayak after it’s flipped over before making a trip to the reservoir.

10. Harvey Gap

Harvey Gap may be a bit smaller than the spots we have listed above but there is a reason why you should not set foot out of Colorado without visiting it. First, you won’t see any monster boats on the water, and second, the spot will give you an outstanding view of Western Colorado.

The waters are extremely peaceful for the kayak paddle to sweep through. Of course, this won’t be entertaining for a whitewater kayaker, but Harvey Gap is one of the most beautiful reservoirs you will ever paddle on.

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If you are looking for a really adventurous kayaking getaway, then Colorado’s got you covered. The rivers and lakes provide the most stunning sights of nature to totally blow your mind. Kayaking in the waters of Colorado will expose you to amazing wildlife and scenery. You will discover so much and go to mysterious places while paddling a kayak.

More Kayak Reviews:


  1. Top 9 Places To Paddle In Colorado This Summer, outtherecolorado.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!