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Rocky Mountain Sea Kayak Club
Where to Paddle In Colorado and the Surrounding States

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This website is no longer maintained, please see the RMSKC Home Page at: http://www.rmskc.org for their current information. This write up is still valid, but it is NOT maintained.

There was concern following a Paddlefest about the role of the RMSKC members in sharing the best places for sea kayaking in our area. As a club we are dedicated to sharing all aspects of sea kayaking that will benefit our members. In response, Gil Folsom has researched and contributed this wonderful list of great paddling places!! This list is not exclusive and we will print and appreciate hearing about any additions you have found!

Sea Kayaking the Rockies
by Gil Folsom
html by mark zen

Here are some suggestions for kayak touring and day trips in the Rocky Mountain region. This is just a sampling of the many trips available to you. Please consult guidebooks and talk to local authorities in these areas before attempting any of these trips. Keep in mind that river ratings can vary depending on water flow. The weather for paddling in most of the mountain region is best done earlier in the day, when winds and powerful thunderstorms are generally not a factor.
Wyoming Paddling
Nebraska Paddling
Utah Paddling
Colorado Paddling
Rocky Mountain Sea Kayak Club Website

Colorado Paddling Info

Colorado River-
From Loma, Colorado to Westwater, Utah this is spectacular kayaking through Horsethief and Ruby Canyons. This is a 26 mile; trip with class I water.
Gunnison River-
From Delta to Grand Junction, this 28 mile stretch of river goes through Escalante and Dominguez Canyons Hiking opportunities reveal petroglyphs, waterfalls, and swimming holes. The water is rated class I-II, but almost entirely class I.
White River-
Starting from near Meeker, you can select various trip lengths ranging up to almost 100 miles in length that will lead you to the confluence with the Green River, near Ouray, Utah. The river is rated class I-II. Meadows, ranch land, canyons, and even a few arches can be seen in various stretches. One particularly popular hike goes to Goblin City, so named because of the intriguing rock formations.
Yampa River-
Between Craig and Juniper Hot Springs is a 38 mile trip with easy class I water meandering through ranch land and canyons.
Arapahoe National Recreation Area-
Often referred to as the "Great Lakes of Colorado" this system of waterways contain five major lakes: Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Monarch Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir, and Meadow Creek Reservoir.

Lake Granby-
is 7,256 acres in size when full, and is the largest of the five. It is the second largest body of water in Colorado, and offers dispersed camping opportunities along the northeast portion of the lake if you would like to get away for some peace and solitude.
Shadow Mountain Reservoir
is 1 ,400 acres in size and connected by a canal to Grand Lake to allow kayak passage between the two.
Grand Lake
is 506 acres and is the largest natural lake in Colorado.
Barr Lake-
Located just southeast of Brighton, Barr Lake offers metro paddlers a place to escape most Of the crowds and noise associated with most of the Denver area reservoirs. Barr Lake is 1 ,937 acres in size and limits motorized boating to 10 hp or less. Half the lake is off limits to all boating, as it is a designated wildlife refuge. Barr Lake serves as a peaceful day paddling destination with great wildlife viewing possibilities.
Curecanti National Recreation Area-
Located just west of Gunnison, this system of waterways actually consists of three reservoirs: Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Lakes.
Blue Mesa
(9,000 acres) offers 96 miles of shoreline and is the largest body of water in Colorado. Paddlers can explore secluded canyons . in various arms of the lake, and several boat-in campsites offer good places to camp.
Morrow Point and Crystal Lakes,
although not nearly as large as Blue Mesa, offer a completely different kind of kayaking experience. Lying deep within the Black Canyon of the: Gunnison, these two lakes are limited to hand carried craft, so there is a much greater chance for solitude. They are very narrow and have steep canyon walls rising up to 2,000 feet straight out of the water. Both of these lakes offer boat-in campsite. Be warned, however, that unpredictable fluctuating dam releases from Morrow Point and Blue Mesa Dams can make paddling to the take out spots very difficult should you attempt it at the wrong times.
Dillon Reservoir-
Beautiful mountain backdrops and only a little over an hour away from Denver, this is a popular place to paddle. Sea Kayaks can even rented on the Frisco side of the reservoir. Dillon Reservoir is 3,300 acres in size, and jet skiers and water skiers are not allowed on the lake. A favorite launch site is near the Heaton Bay day use area, and a short paddle from there will take you to an island oasis with its' own sheltered cove (a great place on a sunny day to picnic and snooze in the sun!).
McPhee Reservoir-
Just outside of Dolores, this 4,470 acre reservoir is approximately nine miles long with several side inlets. High speed boating is restricted to the main channel. The Beaver Creek inlet is almost eight miles in length and looks like it offers peaceful paddling.
Navajo Reservoir-
Located near Arboles on the southwest border of Colorado, most of this reservoir actually lies in New Mexico. It is 15,600 acres in size, is 35 miles long, and lies in a sparsely populated area. It is larger than any body of water in Colorado.

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Nebraska Paddling Info

Niobrara River-
Seventy miles of this river has been designated by Congress as a National Scenic River. It slices through the Nebraska Sandhills, and has been referred to as "the prettiest prairie river in the United States". Several put-ins and take-outs are available but the most popular run starts just outside Valentine and runs 25 miles to Rocky Ford. There is one class II rapid at Rocky Ford, and the rest of the river has no white water at all.
Lake McConaughy-
Twenty-two miles long, 35,000 acres, and with 105 miles of shoreline, this is Nebraska's biggest reservoir. This lake lies eight miles northeast of Ogallala in southwestern Nebraska. It is a popular annual trip with the sea kayak club.

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Utah Paddling Info

Green River-
From the town of Green River to the confluence with the Colorado River 120 miles down river, this is one of the classic flat water trips in the West. It is all class I water, with several put-in and take-out possibilities to accommodate different lengths. The Green snakes its way through red sandstone canyons, with 70 miles of its path going through Canyonlands National Park.
San Juan River-
This is another great trip running through canyons, with some of the most dramatic canyon backdrops the West has to Offer. A great trip is a 57 mile adventure from Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing. The water is class I-II.
Lake Powell-
The premier reservoir in the entire western U.S. , Lake Powell is 140 miles long, with over 100 side canyons. Lake Powell has more shoreline(over 1 ,900 miles) than does all of California, Oregon, and Washington combined. You can spend a day or a year paddling here among the beautiful canyons.

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Wyoming Paddling Info

North Platte River-
From Saratoga to Glendo State Park, the North Platte flows 195 miles lazily through ranch land, bluffs, and open meadows. Several different trips of varying lengths are possible, and the water is rated class I.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir-
This twisting reservoir is 91 miles long, and lies in both Wyoming and Utah. Reportedly the best paddling lies in the southern part of the reservoir, with strong winds possible in the northern section. It takes its name from the beautiful red sandstone gorge it flows through.
Glendo Reservoir-
This body of water covers 12,500 acres and has 78 miles of shoreline. On the east side of the reservoir is a series of sand dunes. The hills on either side of the reservoir are studded with pines and rock outcroppings.
Jackson Lake-
Seventeen miles long and up to 9 miles wide, Jackson Lake lies in the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Breathtaking mountain views abound, and wildlife is plentiful! and varied. Backcountry campsites are well spaced, and each contains a fire ring and a bear-proof food-storage box.
Pathfinder Reservoir-
Over 24 miles long, with a 117 mile shoreline and 22,012 total acres, this is another one of the large reservoirs in Wyoming.
Seminoe Reservoir-
A long, twisting reservoir, Seminoe covers 20,000 acres, and stretches about 30 miles. Sand dunes, high desert vegetation, and some pine and juniper trees are the rule for scenery here.
Yellowstone Lake-
Covering 136 square miles, with 110 miles of shoreline, 20 miles north to south and 14 miles east to west, this is North America's largest mountain lake over 7,000 feet. The three more remote southern arms of the lake are open to only self- propelled craft and give you a good chance for solitude, even in the middle of summer.
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