15 Best Places to Kayak in Colorado

Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by KayakPro

Whether you’re on a trip to Colorado and need to cross some things off your bucket list, or a Colorado resident looking for new activities, you may want to try kayaking!

Colorado State is a famous destination among kayakers, thanks to its beautiful rivers and lakes.

Are you in Colorado and looking for the best spots to Kayak?

Here’s your ultimate guide to kayaking in Colorado!

Best Kayaking Spots in Colorado

There are many unique places with spectacular views to kayak in the US. Here are 15 of these enchanting Colorado rivers and lakes.

Dillon Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir is located in Summit County, Colorado. With its 27 miles of shoreline, you can guarantee you’ll spend the whole day kayaking in its clear water. Besides kayaking, you can plan a day trip and pack your lunch or try camping.

This reservoir is popular among beginners of kayaking because of its long shoreline. It’s also not that close to Denver, so it’s not very crowded. Thus, you’ll have plenty of space to learn and train in Dillon Reservoir.

Lake Dillon, as some like to call it, has some of the loveliest views in Colorado. While paddling in this reservoir, you can enjoy looking at the snowy mountains. You can also enjoy bits of the wildlife with the deer, eagles, and ospreys during your trip.

The Eleven Mile Reservoir

The Eleven Mile reservoir is an hour away from Colorado Springs state. It’s large, with 7,662 surface acres of clear water, so the lake is never too crowded.

The vast reservoir is perfect for watching sunsets from a distance. It’s also known for its odd rock formation, which you can enjoy while you paddle in the water.

The best thing about the Eleven Mile Reservoir is that it’s inside Eleven Mile State Park, where you can bike, hike, or camp. This offers a number of activities if you’re going on a trip with family or friends.

Colorado River

kayaking colorado river
Class 2 rapids on Upper Colorado River in Grand, Colo. Photo: Greg Younger

Even if you’re not kayaking, you can’t go to Colorado State and miss out on visiting the Colorado River. The river is about 1,500 miles long, starting from the Rockies and ending in Northwest Mexico, at the Gulf of California. As one of the longest rivers in Colorado, it has calm and rapid water sections.

Along the Colorado River, you’ll come across different views and kayaking experiences. You’ll find certain parts of the river, like the upper Colorado River on the mountains, is a challenging experience, with rapids.

While there, make sure to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park on your way, where you’ll have quite an adventure kayaking the rapids and admiring the mountains.

Other parts of the Colorado River are calmer and much easier for paddling, which will suit you more if you’re a beginner.

You’ll find sections of the river in the Colorado River State Park, where you and your friends and family can rent boats or go camping and biking.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

kayaking at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The Arkansas River is among the longest rivers in Colorado. You’ll particularly enjoy this area if you like challenges. This area is full of whitewater thrills that’ll bring the adventurer in you to life.

Keep in mind that you have to register before going because this area is in high demand. Once there, you can camp for a few days.

However, avoid this spot if you’re a beginner kayaker; it can be dangerous with its class 4 and 5 rapids.

Green Mountain Reservoir

green mountain reservoir heeney co kayaking
Source: Uncover Colorado

The Green Mountain Reservoir is in the north of Summit County. Near it, you’ll find a marina and camping spots where you can rent kayaks and boats and go on a kayaking trip with a group if you’d like a guide.

This reservoir offers you another opportunity to enjoy the Rocky Mountains. You’ll also find several islands in it where you can rest from paddling and admire the view.

Montrose Water Sports Park

This park has 1,000 feet of whitewater located on Uncompahgre River, and it’s among the popular attraction spots in Colorado State. The water flow in this park is always controlled. In addition to being a great site for kayaking, it features high waves for surfing.

Don’t worry, though. It also features small waves for beginners as well as a freestyle hole if you’re a professional kayaker.

Big Soda Lake

This lake is located in Morrison. It’s ideal if you’re staying in Denver and don’t feel like going too far away from your place.

The lake has plenty of beautiful sights aside from its mesmerizing water; you can enjoy the sight of rolling hills and mountains. You might be able to see the Red Rocks Amphitheater, but it’ll be rather distant, so don’t count on seeing it clearly from the lake.

On the downside, you may find that the lake is more crowded than others. Additionally, plenty of water activities take place in the lake. However, motorboats are banned from entering this lake, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Pueblo Reservoir

Pueblo Reservoir, or Lake Pueblo, has a space of 60 miles of shoreline with dazzling water and is another famous landmark in Colorado. You may want to try a fishing kayak there because the reservoir has plenty of mammals.

In Lake Pueblo, you can camp, hike, or even swim at a specific swim beach. You’ll also find two marinas where you can rent your kayak. You can also rent boats and all kinds of water sports equipment. The reservoir is easy to kayak in for beginners.

While you’re at the Pueblo reservoir, make sure to go around and see the Pueblo Dam!

The Clear Creek Whitewater Park

This park takes up 1.5 miles of the Clear Creek River. It’s an ideal spot for experienced kayakers and offers them plenty of exciting features. This includes freestyle holes, surfing waves, and a slalom course.

If you feel like watching a kayaking competition, this lake is famous in Colorado for hosting many where you can watch top kayakers from around the world competing in the summer.

Grand Lake

This lake is the largest natural body of water in Colorado. It’s located in Grand County.

The lake is one of the biggest kayak areas in Colorado. You can go on a trip, spend the day kayaking and enjoy lunch. You’ll see some spectacular sights of the Rockies with breathtaking green spaces.

There are around 260 campsites near the lake if you’d like to spend the night with your family to enjoy plenty of activities and make the most out of your trip.

Steamboat Whitewater Park

Steamboat Whitewater Park
Source: Friends of the Yampa

This park is on the Yampa River, one of my favorite spots in Colorado. The park takes over 0.75 miles of the river.

What makes this park stand out is that it suits all types of kayakers, depending on the season. Beginners can start kayaking from the second half of July till the end of summer when the water flow is slower.

Professionals can start kayaking from May till the second half of July. At that time, they’ll witness features like the Depot Hole and Charlie’s Hole, which they’re guaranteed to enjoy.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake is located near Eagle County. It’s among the quiet, isolated spots in Colorado, with lucid water surrounded by all the green elements of the White River National Forest.

You can camp or take a hike and explore more of the area. You’ll surely love the view!

If you like fishing, you’ll be happy to know that fishing is allowed there. And if you need any equipment for water sports, you’ll find many places to rent them from near the lake.

Elkhead Reservoir

Elkhead Reservoir lies in Northwestern Colorado and is about 900 acres. It’s not among the biggest lakes in Colorado, but it’s a nice place nonetheless with clear water.

You can plan a kayaking trip to Elkhead Reservoir and enjoy the lovely sights it has to offer. It’s also a fantastic place to camp.

Browns Canyon

This area is part of the Arkansas River, located near Buena Vista. While the water there may be too rocky for beginners, it’s the history there that makes it stand out.

While you’re kayaking the reservoir, you’ll come across the Browns Canyon National Monument on the way, which is an amazing exploration area.

Shadow Mountain Lake

Shadow Mountain Lake is a reservoir located near the Colorado River. Shadow Mountain Lake has nice, clear water where you can enjoy paddling.

Shadow Mountain Lake is also one of the lakes surrounded by wilderness where you’ll find ospreys, geese, and ducks.

Where Can I Rent a Kayak in Denver?

Some of the spots we’ve mentioned in Colorado have a marina nearby where you can rent a kayak. However, if you’re going to an area with no marina or just want to be ready, here are some of the best service companies that rent kayaks.

Confluence Kayaks

Confluence is a well-known kayak rental in Colorado, and it’s located in downtown Denver. You can rent kayaks for a day or more. Confluence also offers bikes, fishing boats, and skiing gear. Based on customer reviews, they’re a friendly community.

Denver Outdoor Adventure Company

This company offers equipment, from snowshoes to paddleboards and boats if you’d like to go fishing. The company rents single kayaks and double kayaks. You can book your gear via telephone or email.

Rocky Mountain Paddleboard

This is another famous rental spot in Colorado. It offers paddle sport rentals and pontoon boat rentals. It also offers single kayaks and double kayaks. Be careful that this company has 4 different branches in Colorado. So, when you rent online, make sure to rent from the Denver branch.

Do You Need a Permit to Kayak in Colorado?

According to the Colorado Kayak Laws, you don’t need a permit to kayak. This is because the law states that vehicles without motors or sails don’t need to be registered to move freely in Colorado. Thus, you have free, legal access to kayaking, unless it’s a motorized kayak.

Keep in mind that drunk paddling is illegal in the US. Also, you must also have legal lighting if you’re going to kayak at night.


Kayaking is a fantastic experience. It offers excitement, relaxation and gives you a chance to see new sceneries and contemplate while paddling in the clear water.

Colorado State is one of the best places to kayak in the US, with its many beautiful rivers and lakes. You can enjoy fishing, go camping, or rent boats in most of these areas!

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional kayaker, you’ll find the right spot for you on this list!

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Ryan Stoltz

Ryan Stoltz

Avid kayaker and lover of the outdoors. Having been kayaking for over 7 years, I love sharing my experiences and learnings along the way. Currently kayaking in upstate New York and always open to new adventures!

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