Kayakers know there is plenty of whitewater to be had in the early summer months in Colorado. The state has become a powerhouse for paddlers looking for easy places to put in and challenging features, including freestyle holes for advanced paddlers and flat water for beginners. Kayakers can find places to paddle no matter what part of the state they want to visit.

1. Dillon Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir - Summit County - John Fielder - OutThere Colorado
Dillon Reservoir. Summit County. Photo Credit, courtesy of: John Fielder.

Dillon Reservoir is an ideal place to learn how to kayak. The reservoir has almost 27-miles of interesting shoreline to keep you paddling all day, and there are a few islands to explore while paddling. The backdrop of three mountain ranges, including the Ten Mile Range, is spectacular when you are paddling on this reservoir. Wildlife sightings are plentiful with mule deer, ospreys, bald eagles, and if you are lucky, you might see a black bear along the shoreline.

2. Rampart Reservoir 

Another great place to practice kayaking is the Rampart Reservoir. The reservoir has a surface area of over 500-acres with plenty of interesting coves to explore. The water is ideal for flat water kayaking because motorized boats aren’t allowed to make whitewater wake. The paddling at the reservoir is enhanced by the scenery which includes fabulous views of Pikes Peak and an assortment of animals.

3. Buena Vista Whitewater Park

Arkansas River - ken lund - flickr
Arkansas River off of U.S. 50. Photo credit: Ken Lund (flickr)

Buena Vista Whitewater Park is situated on the Arkansas River and is perfect for all types of kayakers. With easy access to the water, paddlers can enjoy five features that range from easy surfing waves to a challenging freestyle hole for more advanced paddlers.

4. The Clear Creek Whitewater Park

The Clear Creek Whitewater Park is a gorgeous stretch of 1.5-miles of creative features along the Clear Creek River. Once here, you can enjoy a slalom course and six other features that range from freestyle holes, to surfing waves, to chutes. The park hosts several major competitions throughout the summer where world class kayakers take on the challenging slalom course.

5. Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park

Colorado River - Glenwood Springs - m-kojot - iStock
Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. Photo Credit: m-kojot (iStock)

The time of year you can kayak at the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park depends on your skill level. Early spring flows on the Colorado River can go from 2,500 cfs to a swift 15,000 cfs in just a couple of weeks. The park is superb for expert paddlers from late May to mid June. Novices can get in on the action during the later months of July and August when the river flow slows down.

6. Boulder Creek Whitewater Course

Jeffrey Beall - Boulder Creek - flickr
Boulder Creek. Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr)

Boulder Creek Whitewater Course is a great place to kayak during the early spring months when the snow melt creates sufficient run-off. At this park, paddlers will find a variety of chutes, holes, and drops to practice their skills. For more challenging features, kayakers should put their boats in the water above the Eben G. Fine Park. Novices can paddle calm stretches of the course to practice. 

7. Steamboat Whitewater Park

flickr - Yampa River Jeffrey Beall OutThere Colorado
The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr)

A superb place for advanced paddlers during the spring and early summer months is the Steamboat Whitewater Park. With 0.75 miles of the Yampa River to run and features such as Charlie’s Hole and the Depot Hole, there are numerous challenges for paddlers. The last free-flowing river in the state is superb for beginners in the middle of July. An easy place to put in is at Doctor Rich Weiss Park.

8. Montrose Water Sports Park

When you want to paddle on the Western Slope, the Montrose Water Sports Park is a fantastic place. The park includes 1,000 feet of whitewater on the Uncompaghre River and has six thrilling features that include an ideal beginner wave, a freestyle hole for experts, and nice waves for surfing. The best part about this whitewater park is the water flow is controlled year round for irrigation purposes making the park accessible all summer.

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