7 Outstanding Colorado Kayaking Destinations​

Grab your sunscreen and a personal flotation device (PFD) and get ready to spend a beautiful day kayaking on Colorado's beautiful waters!
Kayaking at Barr Lake State Park

Kayaking is an excellent way to escape from the daily grind and to get outdoors for some exercise and relaxation. From the plains to the mountains, Colorado’s lakes, rivers and reservoirs offer something for everyone. So, grab your sunscreen and a personal flotation device (PFD) and get ready to spend a beautiful day on the water! 

While many of Colorado’s state parks offer unparalleled opportunities for kayaking, here’s a list of seven top spots to get you started!

7. Rifle Gap

kayaking at Rifle Gap State Park
Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State Park’s long, narrow 350-acre reservoir of crystal clear waters beckons all water enthusiasts. While some days are a bit windy at the gap, the gorgeous mountain backdrop and shimmering waters make any day on the water a peaceful outing.


6. Pearl Lake

kayaking Pearl Lake State Park
Pearl Lake State Park

Pearl Lake State Park​, nestled in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs, includes 166 acres of water. At an elevation of 8,065, it is surrounded by beautiful vistas and views of Farwell Mountain. This incredibly peaceful area is lush and green, a true escape from the day-to-day routine. 


5. Harvey Gap

kayaking Harvey Gap State Park
Harvey Gap State Park

Clear your head on the 190 surface acres of the Harvey Gap State Park. Boats with motors over 20hp are prohibited, making for pleasantly still waters to paddle through. See how many waterfowl species you can identify during your day on the reservoir!


4. John Martin Reservoir

Kayaking John Martin Reservoir State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park

For an uncrowded getaway, check out John Martin Reservoir. The park’s Lake Hasty is even quieter, since no motorized boats are allowed there. Grab your PFD and explore the expansive waters among the park’s abundant fish and waterfowl.


3. Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA)

Kayaking at AHRA
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

For a quicker pace and a more extreme workout, head to Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area! Safety is especially important here, since waters can be rough and fast. Wear a helmet and PFD, and seek out professional instruction if you’re not completely comfortable kayaking on whitewater. Enjoy the thrill!


2. Elkhead Reservoir

Kayaking at  Elkhead Reservoir State Park
Elkhead Reservoir State Park

Elkhead Reservoir stretches across an expanse of 900 acres! There’s a new adventure around every turn and the majestic backdrop is breathtaking. The crisp high-altitude air is the ideal reset button amidst the bustle of life.


1. Navajo Reservoir

Kayaking Navajo Reservoir State Park
Navajo State Park

Cover plenty of miles and even cross state lines at Navajo State Park’s expansive reservoir. The 35-mile long reservoir offers nearly endless recreational opportunities, and kayakers are bound to discover new adventures upon every visit. For fewer crowds, park staff recommends the Colorado side of the reservoir. Look around at the various other boaters (even house boats!) and take in the sprawling views.


Seven is Just the Start!

This list of seven outstanding Colorado kayaking spots is only skimming the surface of recreational opportunities that you’ll find in our beautiful state. To find more amazing options, please check out Colorado’s State Parks Guide​ and the ​Recreational Lands Brochure​. The resources provide information on the types of recreation and facilities that are available at State Wildlife Areas, State Trust Lands, and State Parks located throughout the state.

Be safe and have fun – don’t forget to wear your personal flotation device (PFD)! For more information about boating in Colorado, see the ​​Boating Statutes & Boating Regulations Brochure.

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