Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the nation. While you can explore it well on foot or in a car, consider hitting the waterways in a canoe or kayak for a unique perspective (and plenty of exercise).
Manitou Park Recreation Area
Residents of the Colorado Springs area should head to Pikeís Peak Outfitter. The facility rents almost any type of outdoor gear you could imagine, including canoes, kayaks and the safety gear you should use while operating them. For more adventurous navigators who might want to camp while on the waterways, they also have backpacking equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and cooking gear. From the shop, it is just a short drive into Pikes Peak State Park for a great experience outdoors. To learn more about the shop and its policies, visit its website at http://pikespeakoutfitter.com/.
The Colorado River is the powerful force that carved out the Grand Canyon in Arizona. While the Grand Canyon is pretty far away from Colorado, the river has still formed canyons in the state from which it takes its name. Close to the border with Utah, adventurers will find the Knowles and Mee Canyons within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. The Ruby-Horsethief section of the river, where the canyons are located, is a 25-mile stretch of Class I and Class II rapids that is ideal for cruising to see the natural beauty of western Colorado. Companies like Centennial Canoe offer trips down the river for travelers who want to escape ponds and lakes but arenít sure about navigating a river alone. Learn more about the McInnis Canyons NCA on its website at http://blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/mcnca/boating.html.
Rio Grande National Forest
In the southwest corner of Colorado, the Rio Grande National Forest is home to many rivers and streams that are protected by the government. The park is so large that residents and visitors to Creede, Platoro, and South Fork all have easy access to the park and its waterways. Beginners can check out the Beaver Creek Reservoir and Cross Creek, and the Rio Grande (the same one that creates the border between the United States and Mexico) is ready and waiting for experienced paddlers who want to head on a longer journey. To learn more about the waterways open in the National Forest to boaters, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/riogrande/recreation/wateractivities/?recid=28882&actid=79.
Grand Lake/Shadow Mountain Lake
Any list of places to canoe or kayak in Colorado is incomplete if it fails to mention Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is full of many lakes and creeks that can be navigated in non-motorized boats, offering picturesque opportunities to become one with nature. If you require amenities like restrooms and picnic areas, consider Grand Lake or Shadow Mountain Lake on the parkís edge. These two lakes are actually linked by a small canal. The nearby Lake Granby is optimal for boats with engines, which means that Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake are pretty quiet and perfect for beginners. It doesnít hurt that the views are pretty amazing. Learn more about these areas at http://visitgrandcounty.com/activities/summer/guide-to-boating-on-grand-countys-lakes.html.
John Martin Reservoir State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park outside of Hasty is an island of tranquility in the southeastern portion of the state. The large reservoir is open to motorized and paddle boats, and the body of water is large enough to share. It is well-known for its high population of diverse birds and other wildlife. If youíre looking for a quieter waterway, the nearby Lake Hasty is only accessible to non-motorized boats. Fishers will be happy to know that the reservoir is home to catfish, perch, wiper, bass, crappie, saugeye and walleye that can be caught from the shore or a boat. Plan a visit to this state park and learn more about it on its website at http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/JohnMartinReservoir/Pages/default.aspx.
Colorado is a great state to live in or visit for fans of the great outdoors. This list only scratches the surface of waterways that would be great for a long weekend or day on the water, so it is encouraged to get out and explore.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.