Top 9 Places to Paddle in Colorado This Summer
Sandstone cliff and lake at dusk - Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, Colorado, at springtime. Photo Credit: Marekuliasz (iStock).
In the heat of July, when you’re sick of traffic and the hum of the air conditioner, head to a cooler, more refreshing destination. Though known for its snowcapped peaks, the Centennial State actually has a lot of waterfront property to enjoy. From rafting to white-water kayaking, canoeing to stand-up paddleboarding, Colorado’s rivers, lakes, and reservoirs offer unparalleled views and terrain for all types of paddle sports.
1. Horsetooth Reservoir
This 6.5-mile long Fort Collins reservoir is surrounded by 1,900 acres of public lands perfect for camping, picnicking, and paddling.
2. Dillon Reservoir
This Summit County reservoir is home to the world’s highest deep-water marina. Five square miles of water holds small islands and inlets to explore, and expect to catch brown and rainbow trout, Kokanee salmon, and arctic char if you bring your rod and reel.
3. Cherry Creek Reservoir
The prairie that surrounds this 880-acre provides the perfect escape from hectic city life in Denver. Take advantage of the trails, picnic sites, and more while visiting Cherry Creek State Park.
4. Buena Vista River Park
This park, one of the largest in the state of Colorado, is situated in the picturesque town of Buena Vista at the base of the Collegiate Peaks. Expert paddlers can enjoy the river’s recreational features, while others can play disc golf, boulder, and picnic along the river’s shoreline.
5. Trout Lake
As one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Colorado, this remote body of water near Telluride has truly amazing views. Pro Tip: Head out for a sunrise paddle for unforgettable views.
6. Cache la Poudre River
This river that runs through the Poudre Canyon northeast of Fort Collins is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. Fish, paddle, and camp along its shores surrounded by Ponderosa pine forests and steep canyon walls.
7. Animas River
Beginner and expert paddlers can enjoy rafting and kayaking along the Animas River. Don’t miss Mesa Verde National Park, and the world-class foodie scene in the town of Durango.
8. Blue Mesa Reservoir
This must-see destination is Colorado’s largest body of water. The best of Colorado’s Western Slope is on display as you paddle along over 96 miles of shoreline.
9. Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
Gold Medal trout fishing waters meets wild land in this lower section of the Gunnison River. If you’re up for a real adventure, you can’t do any better than this breathtaking destination.