How to Kayak in Colorado

How to Kayak in Colorado
The state of Colorado has more than 30 rivers for kayaking, including the East River, Cache la Poudre, Green River and White River. Each river is designated a specific class, which determines whether it's best for beginners or advanced kayakers based on your level of experience. In addition to the rivers, Colorado also has lakes and reservoirs open to kayaking.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Helmet
  • Wetsuit (optional)
  • Kayak
  • Paddles
  • Life jacket
Step 1
Decide if you want to kayak in rivers, reservoirs or lakes on your Colorado trip. Barr Lake, Clear Lake and Georgetown Lake are just a few of the lakes available, with reservoirs such as Green Mountain also offering kayaking. Reservoirs and lakes are often less challenging and have calmer waters than kayakers find in rivers.
Step 2
Once you decide on the type of water you like, you need to decide where to go. Some kayakers base this on the surrounding locations, such as finding waters around Boulder or Colorado Springs, urban centers that also provide lodging options, restaurants and equipment rental spots.
Step 3
Consider the class of the water, using your own experience as a safety guideline. Class I waters are best suited for beginners because the waters have no rapids and relatively smooth waters. The higher the class level, the harder the kayaking will be. Colorado has some sections of water designated Class V, which indicates the presence of hard rapids and hidden rapids.
Step 4
Pack any equipment you need on your trip. A helmet is necessary, especially if you plan on kayaking the harder rapids. If you're visiting Colorado in the cooler winter or fall months, you may need a wetsuit, because the cold water is dangerous.
Step 5
Rent equipment from one of the kayak rental locations in Colorado. The rental shops offer kayaks, paddles and life jackets for use on your trip. Some locations also provide transportation to the water, offer trips to several bodies of water, and pick up equipment once you finish your trip.

Tips & Warnings

Don't risk your safety. If you're a beginner, stick close to Class 1 bodies of water and stay away from the higher classes.
Consider taking a guided kayak trip if you need some help, if you're a beginner or if you'd like a refresher on using the boats. Colorado has several guided tour companies that cover all aspects of your trip, including safety equipment and kayaks.

Article Written By Jennifer Eblin

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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