Top 10 Places to Kayak in Colorado

Kayaking in Colorado

Kayaking brings you closer to nature. It is a great recreational activity that connects you to the water, the sky and the surrounding vegetation.

You can explore the world around you in a different way. You are able to catch a glimpse of fish swimming in the water, listen to the birds sing, and see small animals scurrying under bushes. Nothing beats the calmness and serenity you get with the paddles in your hands. 

Colorado has some of the best kayaking destinations in the world. If you are someone who seeks whitewater thrills, Colorado is the best place for you to visit. You will have a remarkable experience in the waterway of the state while paddling. There are a number of bodies of water that give you spectacular views of the surrounding area while you kayak.

History of kayaking in Colorado:

Whether you are an experienced kayaker or are a beginner, you might be curious about the origin of kayaking. What is the story behind this adventurous sporting experience? How did it become popular in Colorado? Just like many other activities, kayaking also has a story to tell. 

Kayaking has a rich history. It is the Inuit who invented the first kayak for transportation purposes. The ancient minds created this vessel to travel from one place to another by sea to feed their families.

Traditionally a kayak was used only for transportation but found its way as a form of fitness and an adventurous paddling sport. In 1936 kayaking officially became an Olympic sport. After becoming a part of the Olympics, kayaking became popular a recreational activity among people of all ages. 

With the abundance of rivers, seas and lakes, Colorado has a rich history involving kayaking. There is no other state that can offer endless waterways like Colorado. It offers excellent spots to kayak with your friends and family. There are more than 20 rivers in the state that offer rafting and kayaking adventures.  It is a go-to place for kayaking among tourists who love to explore new places. 

After you have chosen the right kayak and geared up, check out any of these top 10 Best Places to Kayak in Colorado and have a great time!

1. The Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is one of the largest tributaries of the Mississippi River. It originates from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and flows for 1460 miles through Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas before meeting the longest river in North America, the Mississippi River. 

The Arkansas River is one of the most popular destinations for water sports in Colorado. If you are looking to kayak in the high waters of the Arkansas River, there are a vast variety of kayaking trips for you to have an exciting experience. The trips are available for one, two or three days. It is a great option for families with children. 

If you are the adventurous sort, and you want to have fun on a kayak with your friends, the Arkansas River has a lot to offer. 

The Arkansas River offers rafting, canoeing, and kayaking for whitewater enthusiasts. You can experience the thrills of whitewater kayaking at any time of the year. There are different difficulty levels and you can choose according to your skills and expertise. 

The Arkansas River gives you an ideal combination of water adventures and views of the beautiful surrounding scenery. You can see the massive mountains of Colorado on a kayak and have an ultimate water rafting experience. You can also have a look at the wildlife on the banks of the sixth largest river in the United States.

The Arkansas River has everything for everyone. Whether you want to enjoy a relaxing vacation with your family, or are looking for a little adrenaline pumping, it’s the place which will provide you with unforgettable memories. 

2. Pueblo Lake

Pueblo Lake is a magnificent lake in Colorado which offers a variety of water sports like canoeing, jet-skiing, and kayaking. 

It’s a favorite spot for kayakers because of the convenience it provides because it is not very crowded. The lake is large, and even though it is a busy place to kayak, you will never see it overcrowded. The crystal clear water and beautiful sceneries draw the attention of many kayakers. 

Not only can you enjoy a stress- free and relaxing holiday with your family, but you can also enjoy the adventurous thrill of paddling a kayak on the waters of Pueblo Lake. 

You don’t need to be an experienced kayaker to enjoy the pleasures of kayaking on Pueblo Lake. There are proper guides and trainers for you to get an understanding of the thrilling water sport. 

You can easily hire a kayak from Pueblo Lake and paddle and explore the most alluring corners of the lake. While you enjoy the water thrills, your children can play on the banks of the lake. 

Pueblo Lake flows through the Pueblo Lake Park which is a famous state park in Colorado. It offers beautiful mountain views and endless outdoor activities. It has a huge campground that allows you to stay for multiple days. You can enjoy fishing, picnicking and bird watching with your friends and family. Kayakers will definitely have fun while experiencing the challenging trails. 

3. The Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the most popular attractions in Colorado. It is the most famous river in the United State. People from all over the world come to explore the inner depths of the river. Kayakers love the Colorado River. No matter how old you are, you will enjoy paddling through parts that are tranquil and calm water and other parts that are challenging. 

The Colorado River offers you different sections of the river to kayak in. You can choose according to your skills and experiences. If you are looking for a gentle kayak experience, the Colorado River offers that. For expert kayakers, the Colorado River also offers high water sections to build up adrenaline. 

Before heading out to kayak on the Colorado River, make sure that you are fully prepared to have an accelerating experience. There are some areas of the river which need a permit. These areas are restricted to advanced level kayakers. To paddle the kayak in the restricted areas and enjoy the thrilling white waters get the permit immediately if you are planning to visit the Colorado River. 

The Colorado River sits on the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and flows west and south into the Gulf of California and into northwestern Mexico. The mighty river flows for 1450 miles through seven different states; Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. You can enjoy a non-stop excitement kayaking experience on this enormous river. 

4. Clear Creek Whitewater Kayaking Park

Clear Creek Whitewater Kayaking Park has some very interesting features that give you amazing wildlife views and challenging waterways. It’s a favorite destination for tourists to go kayaking on. They are able to connect with the beauty of nature. You don’t have to get a ticket or entry pass to explore the beautiful sites of the Whitewater Park. 

Clear Creek Whitewater Kayaking Park is ideal for intermediate kayakers. Beginners might be reluctant to paddle through the challenging sections of the upper creek.

If you want to deal with the fast and furious water and enjoy a heart-pumping kayaking experience, Clear Creek Whitewater Kayaking Park is the best place for you to visit. 

The park offers seven sections of different levels of water fun for kayak enthusiasts. Paddling in the crystal clear waterways of Clear Creek Whitewater Kayaking Park bring you closer to the wilderness. Beginner level kayakers might hesitate to kayak on the cold and vibrant water waves of the river.

5. Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State Park is another remarkable destination for kayaking and has a unique water sports experience. The crystal clear water of Rifle Gap offers a wide variety of recreational activities.  It is an ideal place for boating, fishing, jet skiing, and kayaking. 

You can take your kayak there and enjoy terrific paddling in the waterways of the Rifle Gap Reservoir. You can also enjoy exciting and adventurous kayak fishing. There are plenty of fish for you in the sea. 

The Rifle Gap State Park offers numerous campsites to enjoy camping and kayaking. You can plan your trip for 3 or 4 days at any time of the year you want. 

If you are tired of your hectic routine, you need to have an adventurous vacation. Rifle Gap is a hot summer spot which promises to give you the fun you are looking for with your family.

6. Sylvan Lake 

Exploring the Sylvan Lake on a kayak is an exciting way of having fun. It brings you closer to your surroundings and you are able to admire the tranquility of the water around you. 

Sylvan Lake is an amazing spot for picnicking, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor recreational activities. This spectacular lake is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is a beautiful and breathtaking lake that is surrounded by beautiful meadows. Experience the freedom of enjoying the beauty of nature on your kayak by paddling away on the splendid Sylvan Lake of Colorado.

If you want to take your family on a memorable kayaking trip, this is a wonderful lake to choose. You can even rent kayaks and boats in order to discover the beautiful lake. It gives you amazing scenery and wildlife views. After enjoying the outdoor activities with your family, you can have food at the lodge restaurant which is located near the lake.

7. Shadow Mountain Lake

Are you tired of your hectic routine? Do you want to go on a vacation? Do you want to connect with the tranquility of nature? If you are in search of a beautiful and serene setting, Shadow Mountain is the right place for you. 

The lake offers spectacular mountain views and lets you connect with nature on a kayak. You can feel the cool breeze gently blowing through the trees and plants around you. 

Shadow Mountain Lake has plenty of room for different water sports activities. It’s a splendid place without being overcrowded. Kayaking on the lake takes you away from the hassle of the daily life. 

Shadow Mountain Lake is a man-made lake with amazing and breathtaking views. While you kayak on the lake, you can see the spectacular Rocky Mountains. The lake offers 1,346 square surface acres of deep blue water for kayaking enthusiasts to explore the beauties of nature. You can explore the vast expanse of the lake while kayaking.

You can enjoy a peaceful meal with your family near the sparkling waters of Shadow Mountain Lake. Have fun on your kayak by exploring the simple summer pleasure of the Lake. 

8. Evergreen Lake 

Evergreen Lake is the crown jewel of Colorado. It is a splendid lake with bountiful views of nature. You can explore the extraordinary wilderness of the lake on a kayak. There are thousands of plants and birds for you to look at when you are on a kayaking expedition on Evergreen Lake. 

Paddle on the shoreline of Evergreen Lake and explore the spectacular surroundings around you. Kayakers of every experience level and skill expertise can enjoy paddling on the water of the beautiful lake. 

It is a perfect getaway for you if you are looking for an adventurous outdoor activity to do with your friends and family. You can even kayak with your friends and family and connect with nature together.

It is a popular destination for tourists and locals. You can rent a boat or a kayak to explore the depth of the lake. 

Evergreen Lake also provides you the option to have a picnic with your family and friends. The lake is 40 acres and the land is 1 acre which gives you enough space for your kids to run around. 

9. Horsetooth Reservoir 

This list would be incomplete if we didn’t mention the Horsetooth Reservoir. It is one of Colorado’s most beautiful and scenic places that is great for kayak enthusiasts. It’s a favorite recreational spot for people who love water spots and other outdoor activities. 

If you are looking for splendid bird watching and wildlife sightseeing, Horsetooth Reservoir is the place to be. You will be amazed by the beauty of the nature surrounding the reservoir. 

The atmosphere of the place is family friendly. People who love to explore nature would be delighted to kayak on the water of Horsetooth Reservoir.

It is a perfect place for hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. You can plan to kayak all day long or stay for multiple days at a campsite. If you do not own a kayak, you can rent a kayak and enjoy the spectacular surroundings. 

10. Harvey Gap

Harvey Gap State Park is a well-known state park in Colorado that is popular for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and other outdoor activities. 

Harvey Gap can accommodate any level of kayaker. Whether you are a beginner or an expert kayaker, this location promises you an unforgettable kayaking expedition. 

You can catch as many fish as you like while exploring the lake on a kayak. The place is not enormous, but kayaking on Harvey Gap will make you forget about the stress in your life. While easily paddling on a kayak, you will be surrounded by a peaceful and quiet environment. 

Best season/ time to kayak in Colorado 

Are you planning a vacation to Colorado this year to enjoy the bodies of water? A common question that may occur in your mind is, “what is the ideal time to kayak in Colorado?”

We are all aware of the fact that kayaking is a seasonal activity. Kayaking season in Colorado starts from April to September. However, the best season to kayak totally depends on your skills and water level preference. 

The amount of water in the rivers of Colorado changes throughout the year. The most exciting time to kayak for kayaking enthusiasts is when the water level is high. This usually occurs at the end of May until the end of June. 

Medium water levels are perfect for tourists and families. The water level is just right to enjoy a thrilling kayaking experience. This typically occurs from end of June until mid-August. This season is the peak tourist season. You are also able to see the wildlife around the river. 

There are great options for you from the spring to summer season to kayak in the rivers and lakes of Colorado.

Training Centers in Colorado

Safety comes first. Before entering the world of kayaking, it is important for you to get the right training to enjoy this adventurous sport. If you don’t have prior knowledge to the proper tricks and techniques of kayaking, you might be risking your life. Kayakers should have a know how to use the paddles appropriately, including speed, angle, timing and body posture to enjoy the dynamic sport. There are a number of training centers which offer kayaking classes for beginners and intermediates.

  • Colorado Whitewater 

Colorado Whitewater offers a wide range of courses for kayakers to enhance their skills of paddling efficiently on the river. They provide the basic instructions and guidelines for beginners to roll up the kayak in a manner that prevents serious back injuries. 

  • Rocky Mountain Adventure Pass 

If you are looking for a lead training kayak center in Colorado, Rocky Mountain Adventure Pass serves this purpose. The professional and certified kayak instructors guide you along the beautiful Arkansas River. They help you explore the world of kayaking and teach you great rolling and paddling skills. 

  • Renaissance Adventure Guides

To safely kayak in the peaceful lakes and rivers, this organization gives you the option of choosing from plenty of different kayaking courses. They offer different courses for different levels of kayakers. If you are an advanced kayaker and are looking for a thrilling kayaking experience, they teach you the right techniques for you to master the art of the sport. 

Camping sites in Colorado

Camping and kayaking go hand in hand. You might want to rent a kayak on the beautiful waters of Colorado in order to get closer to nature. Colorado offers spectacular campgrounds that make you have an unforgettable kayaking experience.

  • Lathrop State Park

Lathrop State Park is the first state park of Colorado that offers amazing campgrounds with shower and restroom facilities. It is nestled at the base of the Spanish Peaks in Southern Colorado. The park offers a variety of kayaking opportunities for recreational purposes. There are plenty of campsites for kayakers to enjoy paddling in the morning and sleeping in the evening with the calm sounds of the river close by. 

  • Oh Be Joyful Campground Crested Butte

Oh Be Joyful Campground is nestled in the grand valley that is located outside the town of Crested Butte along the River Slate. There are spectacular waterfalls when you enter the campground. You will definitely have a joyful time camping and kayaking here. 

  • Colorado River Adventures

Are you a kayaker who is looking for an exciting experience? Do you want to get your adrenaline pumping? The Colorado River adventures give you the pleasure of experiencing family-friendly and adventurous kayaking and camping activities. If you have a craving for whitewater rafting, the Colorado River is the best campsite for you to visit with your friends and family. You will have an unforgettable experience. 


For a memorable kayaking getaway, Colorado is the best choice for you. The state has numerous lakes and rivers that provide you with the most incredible sights. 

Kayaking in the rivers of Colorado allows you to discover mysterious places. You can discover so much on your own. You are exposed to an amazing array of scenery and wildlife.

Plan your next vacation to Colorado to have a thrilling experience of exploring the world while paddling a kayak. Kayaking in Colorado could change your life. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Colorado is a paradise for all the kayak enthusiasts. 

Gear up and Happy Kayaking!

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