From the White River to Kenney Reservoir, Rangely offers the Colorado cool you’ve been looking for—boating, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Here are the best places to go if you love the water, just a short road trip away in the little town with a big heart and big splashy choices for your summer getaway. No crowds, no traffic, beautiful days and dark skies at night! Once you roll into Rangely, make sure you stop by the Town Hall and say hello!
Sweet summer soaking
Lazy river getaways are safe and relaxing for the whole family. A section of the White River runs smooth and sweetly under delightfully shady trees right in town. There are bathrooms (clean ones!) and picnic tables as well as grassy knolls for lounging.
Forget Nat Geo—Rangely offers an IRL level of wildlife sightings to include eagles, blue herons, hawks, river otters and deer.
Near the green bridge on the White River, make sure to stop at the cute pocket beach to take a break for swimming and floating on your raft—and did we mention you’ll probably have the place almost to yourselves? Dogs, kids and families report a splashing good time!
You can source fishing poles, inflatable rafts and inner tubes at the True Value on Main Street or bring your own tubes, kayaks and paddleboards. If you forget anything at home, like picnic supplies and sunscreen, ice and soda and much more are available at the White River Market on Rte. 64 or the quaint Nichols Store on Main, both right down the block.
There aren’t any pirate ships here, granted, but Kenney Reservoir, located five miles east of Rangely on Highway 64, does offer boating for any sized watercraft. The reservoir also boasts two sectioned swimmers’ areas.
In addition to all the other fun, the Reservoir presents some pretty incredible cliff diving. The largest cliff is approximately 18’ in height, and there are a few smaller cliffs as well.
If you enjoy jet skis and other motorized watercraft—Kenney “Rez” is for you. It’s even big enough for waterskiing. Day use is free to landlubbers but boating visitors pay just $7 daily.
The Reservoir is located on the White River, so canoe and kayak enthusiasts can map out a safe course that includes the White River (see below) or stay at Kenney-adjacent campsites. Both are a great place to drop lines along the banks and mini “coves” for trout and smallmouth bass.
Five thousand rainbow trout are stocked into Kenney each spring; crappie and catfish also abound.
The marina is located on the east side of the Reservoir and has a concrete boat ramp and fiberglass docks. Floating logs and other debris are a hazard here, so keep an eye out for floating or partially submerged objects as well as shallow areas.
You can make boating reservations for Kenney Reservoir by calling the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District at 970-675-5055.
Camp along the White River: Save a rainy day
Rangely, as the water recreation destination for people in the know, offers several campsites that are situated at the edge of the River and the Reservoir. Camping fees are $8 per day.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District has a junior Olympic size swimming pool, and even includes a hot tub and water slide. Programs and activities for all ages at the Rec Center provide visitors delightful distractions on the rare Colorado rainy day—visit http://westernrioblanco.org or call 970-675-8211 for more. Daily admission runs from $1 (seniors) to $3.25 for visitors.
On Main Street, Camper Park offers five-star accommodations (just check out the Yelp and Google reviews) for tent campers with electric hookups for RVs; access to kids’ fishing; and the best of all campers’ delights—steamy hot showers and clean restrooms.
From there, venture out to see the famous “dark skies” of Rangely as the diffuse gems of the Milky Way stretch horizon to horizon way out here. Or spend one of the area’s 300 days of sunshine exploring the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, stopping along your drive at the wonderful waterways sparkling in the sun.
Buck N Bull RV Park, Silver Sage RV Park are also highly rated by outdoor enthusiasts; but if you prefer, you can book a room at the Blue Mountain Inn or a quaint tiny cabin at Moose Head Lodge for a delightful couple’s getaway with adventure right outside the back door!
Birds and beasts by the water
Rangely is never crowded, so that means our beloved Colorado beasts and birds often approach close to campsites and come down to the river to drink. As always, keep your food locked away in bear-proof containers while camping or spending time out on the water.
The wetlands near the far end of the Reservoir and along the White River are protected and part of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands—thus birders and wildlife watchers can see many more species than in more populated areas.
Keep an eye out for snowy ospreys and the grey juveniles as they nest near the wetlands and cry out to one another with a distinctive and haunting call. Deer, antelope and elk can be seen shyly emerging from the tree line or grazing as you drive into town. The raptor afficionado among your crew will be amazed—bald and golden eagles fish off the cliffs above the water, plummeting down and pulling unlucky trout out of the river with their impressive talons.
Your best bet for seeing Rangely’s famed wild horses is on Highway 139 or along Yellow Creek in the spring—summer sightings are rarer as the herds migrate to higher elevations, however, many employ jeeps and other all-terrain vehicles as well as a good pair of binoculars to head out to BLM lands for a day trip in search of the elusive herds.
White River relaxation
Hop onto the online boating guide to plan a relatively gentle Class 1 & Class 2 trip on the White River—planning for places to stop and camp for several days of relaxation.
The Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District is a good source for maps, advice and even a professional river guide for your trip. They can help you pack the right fishing lures and other essentials for a river excursion your family won’t soon forget.
There are eight launch and takeout sites open to the public, including those at Kenney Reservoir. Your delightful picnic hours in the rearview, let’s hope you saved room for a delightful dinner at one of Rangely’s homestyle restaurants.
We hear the Mexican food at El Agave is excellent, as well as the Chinese food at CA Wok; or get your lasagna on at Giovanni’s (what the locals call Gio's). There are delicious options all around this Small Town U.S.A. destination, including ice cream, fudge and yummy beer and wine for the adults. Try the Main Street Cafe's famous breakfast burritos and chicken salad croissant. Yum!
There aren’t many places in Colorado that are less crowded, only a car ride away and offer so many choices for those who enjoy splashing in a lake, fishing in a river or simply floating along sweetly as the summer day whiles away.
Grab your water shoes and your family for a relaxing Rangely vacation on the water. “You will find us where the pavement ends.”