5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Colorado

By Madison Dragna

5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Colorado

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In Colorado, kayak on the many lakes in the state or along a number of rivers. For those who are new to kayaking, there are plenty of guided tours to get you out on the water with confidence. No matter if you’re seeking a no-stress lake tour for yourself or a relaxing river trip for the whole family, these five great spots for beginners to kayak in Colorado is sure to make you fall in love with the sport.

1. Upper Colorado River, Kremmling, CO

The famous Colorado River has its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park. Now there are some serious rapids along this 1,450-mile river but the Upper Colorado River provides easy-to-navigate waters that are perfect for beginner kayakers. To access the Upper Colorado, head to Kremmling. With a guided tour, no experience is necessary, and a guide will attend the trip with you but you will be paddling in your own kayak. A guided trip like this is great for families but do be aware that many guided tours only allow children 10 years or older. Along the Upper Colorado, expect to see wildflowers, wondrous canyons and Colorado forest.

2. Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River, Buena Vista, CO

Browns Canyon, along the Arkansas River, is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in the nation. Not only is this stretch of the Arkansas River exceptionally scenic, but it is also very fun to paddle. For beginners that want more rapids than a leisurely paddle, Browns Canyon is a great option. This stretch is known as having a “pool-drop” characteristic. This means that there is a peaceful pool after each rapid, so beginners especially have time to collect and prepare for the next rapid up ahead. Browns Canyon wasn’t named a National Monument in 2015 for no reason. A guided kayaking trip down this stretch will definitely expose paddlers to Colorado’s incredible nature.

3. Lake Dillon, Frisco, CO

Lake Dillon is a great destination for lake kayakers. This high-altitude lake offers breathtaking views and expansive space even if you visit on a busy weekend. Now when it comes to kayaking Lake Dillon, beginners can choose to rent a kayak from the marina or head out with a guide to learn more about kayaking and the area. Lake Dillon has a number of small islands, which are all fair game to explore, and they make a great spot to picnic during your kayaking expedition. Since this lake is only 58 miles from Denver, it’s a great day trip for those staying in the Mile High City. However make sure to hit the water early because the wind typically picks up during the day, making this lake a bit choppy during the afternoon and evening hours.

4. Pueblo Lake, Pueblo, CO

With over 60 miles of shoreline and 4,600 surface acres of water, Pueblo Lake is the perfect spot for beginners to kayak. This large lake, which is located within Lake Pueblo State Park, is actually very popular among fishermen. However the clear water and unique scenery draws visitors for many reasons. To get access to the lake and rent a kayak, visit one of the two marinas. Do keep in mind that this spot is a popular destination, so beginners may want to visit during the weekdays just to navigate the waters without worrying about crowds. Pueblo Lake is also the perfect area to plan a multi-day trip since Lake Pueblo State Park does have campgrounds, hiking trails and mountain biking trails.

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5. Chatfield Reservoir, Littleton, CO

Chatfield Reservoir is a popular kayaking destination for those living or staying in the Front Range. Now both beginner and advanced kayakers paddle here. For beginners, stay in Roxbourough Bay to avoid boat wakes that can cause choppy waters. It is advised to avoid kayaking here if wind speeds are over 15 miles per hour. There are a number of access points and a marina where you can rent your kayak. With grasslands along the shore and a mountain backdrop, you’re bound to see some wildlife and get a feel for Colorado's natural wonders.

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