From whitewater rafting to paddleboarding, sailing and even surfing, Colorado is home to many water sports. Kayaking is a sport that anyone can enjoy, regardless of skill level or even ownership of a kayak. Find rentals and beautiful mountain scenery at these ten kayaking spots in Colorado that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike:
Areas for all skill levels make the Arkansas River one of Colorado’s most popular kayaking spots. Families and those new to sports will enjoy a guided cruise on the stretch of river near Salida. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, lower Browns Canyon is a great introduction to whitewater kayaking. Meanwhile, the upper segment of the canyon called Numbers and Royal Gorge are ideal for experts looking for exhilarating Class V rapids. If you need to rent a kayak, look no further than Totally Tubular River Rentals.
The Navajo Reservoir in Navajo State Park is 35 miles long and stretches from New Mexico to southwestern Colorado. Luckily, the Colorado side is often less crowded, and visitors can experience even more solitude when exploring by kayak. If you need a rental car, you should grab one along the way. Pagosa Outside Adventures, about 45 minutes northeast, and 4Corners Riversports, about an hour northwest in Durango, are your next options.
Gore Canyon is a classic along the upper Colorado River, making it a favorite among experienced kayakers. The Class V route starts near Kremmling and is just over 14 kilometers long. Take-out is at the Pumphouse Recreation Site, which also has scattered camping. Pitch a tent here or head back into town to return your kayak from Colorado River Rentals. Then relax at the nearby Hot Sulfur Springs Resort & Spa, one of the premier hot springs in Colorado.
Less than an hour west of Denver is Georgetown Lake, a scenic spot frequented by kayakers. Though small, its accessibility, nearby attractions, and mountain views make it a worthwhile destination. On the north shore is a wildlife viewing area where you can often see the local flock of bighorn sheep. To kayak here, grab your rental car from Golden River Sports, which is about 45 minutes east.
Grass Valley Reservoir
Grass Valley Reservoir is the main attraction at Harvey Gap State Park in Silt. Motorboats over 20 hp are prohibited on the water, and with no wake, kayakers can enjoy a smooth, calm drift. Note that to protect the natural environment, no pets or camping are allowed in the area. However, day-use restrictions don’t deter visitors, many of whom rent kayaks from Defiance River Outfitters in Glenwood Springs or TOP Adventures in Parachute. Both are about 30 minutes from the state park.
Horsetooth Reservoir is not only one of the most peaceful paddling spots in Colorado, it’s also a tranquil spot for kayaking. Experienced kayakers can paddle the seven miles end-to-end, navigating the choppy waters caused by motor boats. Meanwhile, newer kayakers can explore the shores and coves of this Fort Collins destination. Rentals are available at the Inlet Bay Marina, where you will also find campsites, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation options.
Tarryall Reservoir, a hidden gem, isn’t far from Denver, although it’s far off the beaten track. You’re only likely to meet a few other kayakers here, along with fishermen casting lines for trout and pike. Moose, deer and waterfowl are also common in this area, so keep an eye out for wildlife as you paddle the banks. Due to the remote location, rental cars are not readily available at the reservoir. Along the way, stop by the Alpine Rental Team in Bailey to collect your dinghy.
Escape the busy city at Chatfield State Park, the closest kayaking destination to Denver on this list. Covering more than two miles in area, the massive reservoir includes multiple put-ins. Colorado Watersports rentals are right next to Roxborough Cove, and many agree that Eagle Cove, near the bathing beach, is a great place to start. However, beginners may prefer the flat southwest area where there are fewer boats. Regardless of where you start your raft, you’ll find that there’s plenty to explore. So much so that you might want to spend the night at Chatfield, one of the best campgrounds near Denver.
Glenwood White Water Park
Splash down the G Wave at Glenwood Whitewater Park, a playground for kayakers looking to perfect their skills. Designed by Jason Carey, the artificial water features here are the first of their kind along the Colorado River. Currents vary between 4,000 and 22,000 cubic feet per second and are often most intense during the spring snowmelt. Nevertheless, the standing wave and the learning pools are a challenge at any time of the year. Visit Defiance River Rentals for a kayak rental that includes a helmet, and for good reason. wear it!
Beginner and intermediate kayakers will love Lake Pueblo for its accessibility, abundance of recreational activities, and unique geological features. Many visitors have even found fossils along the reservoir’s sixty miles of shoreline, and it’s the best area for kayaking newbies. If you’re experienced, you can explore towards the middle of the water, but be aware that winds and boats can create choppy conditions. Choose your own adventure by renting from Laketime Rentals, conveniently located locally.