Best Places to Kayak in Colorado Springs and Beyond (With Map)

Colorado Springs is a bustling city of over 400,000 people. However, it’s also home to some beautiful natural landscapes begging for exploring – especially if you’re outdoorsy.

Kayaking in Colorado Springs offers the best of both worlds. If you want to experience what kayaking has to offer, then read on.

We will share some of the best places to kayak in Colorado Springs. If you are up for the drive, you’ll want to check out some other unique places in Colorado on your next kayak adventure.

If we missed your favorite spot, let us know in the comments below!

Anytime you head out kayaking, check the weather and water conditions and ensure you have the appropriate gear.

Manitou Lake Recreation Area

The Manitou Lake Recreation Area is great for kayakers of all levels to explore the water. In addition, the whole family may enjoy kayaking and kayak fishing on the 5-acre reservoir.

Manitou Lake is a great place to paddle in the summer, and it’s an excellent way to see the mountains meet the water. The lake is perfect for experienced kayakers and beginners alike.

If you’re new to kayaking or want something more relaxing, this is a great spot. However, it can get crowded during peak season, so it’s best if you can make it mid-week.

Whether you’re an experienced paddler or someone totally new to it, Manitou Lake is a great place to explore and find your inner kayaking spirit.

Why kayakers love Manitou Lake

  • The small lake is accessible and easy to paddle
  • Closed to motorboats
  • The lake is stocked with trout
  • Due to the location, there is very little wind

Quail Lake

Quail Lake is one of the best places to kayak in Colorado Springs. The lake is located in town and has easy access for paddling. The lake is small, but that makes it easier for paddlers of all levels.

Quail Lake is a great spot for beginners to get their feet wet (pun intended). One great thing about Quail Lake is that motorboats are not allowed on it, so you can paddle peacefully. 

This is a beautiful lake with excellent views of COS. The boat loading is clean and accessible, and there is room for parking a kayak trailer. The lake has a lot of areas to fish or relax. 

Due to its location, the lake is a popular spot for an after-work paddle during the warm summer months.

Why kayakers love Quail Lake:

  • Quiet location with easy access to the water
  • Closed to motorboats so that you can kayak in peace and quiet
  • Conveniently located place for people who want a break from the city
  • Suitable for all levels of kayakers, especially beginners who want to ease into it

Rampart Reservoir

The Rampart Reservoir is one of the best places to kayak in Colorado Springs because it offers beautiful views and a chance to paddle within an hour’s drive from the city.

Getting to Rampart Reservoir is kind of rough on dirt roads, but once you get there, it’s worth it. The reservoir is large and serene, with a lot of coves to explore.

The reservoir itself is large enough (about 500 acres) that you can spend an entire day just exploring and enjoying yourself – but not so big that paddling becomes exhausting.

The reservoir is open to motorboats, but the whole lake is a no-wake zone, so it’s perfect for kayakers who want a calm experience.

This spot sees more traffic during warm summer months and is only open from early May to mid-October.

Take your kayak, camping, and fishing gear for a great weekend getaway.

Why kayakers love Rampart reservoir

  • Large enough to explore for a whole day but small enough that it’s not overwhelming
  • Perfect for beginners and people who want an easy time kayaking
  • Quiet location perfect for paddling by yourself if you’re looking for some alone time
  • Camping and fishing for outdoor enthusiasts

North Slope Recreation Area

There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking at North Slope Recreation Area. Crystal Creek Reservoir, South Catamount Reservoir, and North Catamount Reservoir are open for paddling and boats with electric motors (no gas motors).

No matter which place you choose to paddle, the whole area is a great place to escape the city’s noise.

The reservoirs are stocked with trout, so if kayaking fishing is your jam, then you are in luck.

Since trailers are prohibited on Pikes Peak Highway, so boats must be transported using a roof rack or a pickup. Once you arrive at the water, you will have to carry your kayak from your vehicle to the water since there are no vehicle access points.

A kayak cart will come in very handy!

Why kayakers love North Slope Recreation Area

  • Three reservoirs to paddle on with beautiful views
  • Stocked lakes so you can go kayaking and fishing at the same time
  • No gas motors are allowed, so the quiet location is perfect for getting away from it all
  • Peaceful paddling in a beautiful outdoor setting

Arkansas River

There are so many great options for kayaking in Colorado Springs, but it can be challenging to figure out which one is right for you.

The Arkansas River is a beautiful place to go kayaking and offers plenty of opportunities for beginners and experts alike.

An Arkansas River paddle can be thrilling for both novice and expert paddlers. The waterway offers a wide range of conditions, from easy Class I rapids to strong Class VI whitewater.

You will be hard-pressed to find another river with the same degree of variety or the sheer number of rapids.

The scenery along the Arkansas River is stunning, and wildlife is abundant. You can expect to see elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and all sorts of wildlife.

Summer is when things get busy, so be prepared for crowds on the water. The Arkansas River is not for the faint of heart, and you will need to do some scouting beforehand.

There are also plenty of opportunities to take a rafting trip if you want the thrill of whitewater but aren’t ready to kayak the mighty river.

Why kayakers love the Arkansas River

  • Vivid scenery and wildlife
  • Ranging from easy Class I rapids to strong Class VI whitewater
  • Perfect for more advanced kayakers who want a thrill

Eleven Mile Reservoir

Eleven Mile Reservoir is the perfect place to go kayaking near Colorado Springs. It’s large enough that you can spend an entire day exploring and enjoying yourself but not so big that paddling becomes exhausting.

It’s about 12 miles to paddle from end to end, making it long enough for an extended outing. There are also granite rock formations to explore and plenty of wildlife.

Eleven Mile Reservoir is a gorgeous place to kayak, with lots of rock formations to explore. However, the wind can pick up during certain times of the year, so be prepared.

The reservoir is open to motorboats, but there is plenty of room for kayaks too. It’s a popular but not super overcrowded destination that is excellent for paddling. One thing to note is that swimming is prohibited since this lake is a local water source.

Take your kayak camping and fishing gear for a great weekend getaway. Camping, fishing, kayaking, what could be better?

Why Kayakers Love Eleven Mile Reservoir

  • Large enough to explore for a whole day but small enough for beginners
  • Lots of rock formations to explore
  • Open to motorboats, but plenty of room for kayaks too
  • Perfect for camping and fishing trips

Lake Pueblo

Lake Pueblo is a great place to kayak near Colorado Springs. There are many reasons why Pueblo Lake is an ideal spot for kayaking, including calm water and plenty of shoreline to explore.

Lake Pueblo is a man-made lake located about an hour south of Colorado Springs. Since the water never freezes, the lake is open year-round. However, remember to pack appropriately. It can get downright cold in the winter.

The lake offers all sorts of activities so people can enjoy nature year-round. There is access to many trails for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking.

There are kayak rentals on-site if you need to rent a kayak. There is plenty to do at Lake Pueblo, camping, fishing, kayaking, etc.

Depending on your perspective, the scenery surrounding the lake is beautiful, desert but beautiful.

Why kayakers love Lake Pueblo

  • Plenty of shoreline to explore
  • Kayak rentals on-site
  • Open year-round and never freezes over
  • Easily accessible from Colorado Springs

Bear Creek Lake

Located in Lakewood, Colorado (just up the road from Colorado Springs, Bear Creek Lake is a beautiful place to kayak. The lake has a wide variety of fish, and there are plenty of trails around the lake for those who want to explore more.

Bear Creek Lake is easy to get to and is an excellent spot to kayak and fish. Be wary, though. There are lots of humans in this area :).

The park also has picnic tables and restrooms, so it’s a great place to bring the family.

The water near Bear Creek Lake is typically calm, and there are no large waves or major currents that you need to worry about.

This park may be smaller than some of the other locations listed here, but it’s a great little spot for paddling. The lake itself isn’t huge, but still very scenic.

If you’re looking for somewhere great to kayak near Colorado Springs that will keep both nature lovers and families happy, Bear Creek Lake is the place for you.

Why kayakers love Bear Creek Lake

  • Great for fishing
  • Lots of areas to explore
  • Picnic tables and bathrooms are available
  • Typically calm water, no large waves or currents to worry about

Other places to kayak in Colorado

There are a lot of great places to kayak around Colorado Springs. In addition, there are other excellent places to paddle if you are up for the drive and are looking for some adventure.

Shadow Mountain Lake

The Shadow Mountain Lake is a great place to kayak in Colorado. Expect about a four-hour drive from Colorado Springs. The lake is secluded and quiet, perfect for those who want to get away from it all.

There are plenty of places to explore along the shoreline, making this a great destination if you’re looking for some adventure.

The water is calm, and there are many shallow areas to keep larger boats out of your way. You might even find yourself spotting wildlife, such as deer or elk, grazing on the shoreline.

The high-altitude lake is pretty chilly, even in the summer. So be prepared to bundle up in cold weather.

Shadow Mountain Lake has everything that makes Colorado great, crisp, clear water and beautiful scenery. Fishing, camping, kayaking. What more could you ask for?

Kayak rentals are available in nearby Grand Lake.

Why kayakers love Shadow Mountain Lake

  • Very secluded and quiet
  • Plenty of shoreline to explore along the lake’s edge in many areas
  • Perfect for those looking to get away from it all

Rifle Gap

Located in Western Colorado, Rifle Gap Reservoir is a great spot to spend a weekend kayaking trip.

The reservoir has a surface area of 350 acres and is one of Colorado’s best watersports spots. The reservoir is long and narrow, with plenty of space to paddle.

Sure, there will be boats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a spot for kayaking.

The west side of the lake is popular for swimming and fishing. There are a wide variety of fish species, including bass and trout. This is a great spot to cast your line if you enjoy kayak fishing.

There are shallow areas for kayaking which are great for beginners or families with kids.

Camping is open all year long. The lake can get windy, but the crystal-clear water makes for a great day of paddling.

Why kayakers love Rifle Gap Reservoir

  • Great for camping and fishing
  • Plenty of shoreline to explore
  • Out of the way spot


Colorado Springs is the perfect place for people who enjoy kayaking. There are a lot of paddling spots close by, which means you can find one that suits your needs and preferences best.

Whether you’re looking to get away from it all or stay in town, there’s an excellent spot to kayak in Colorado Springs.

If you’re looking for some adventure, check out the Arkansas River. If you want a shorter drive and something more laid back, go kayaking at Bear Creek Lake.

No matter where your next paddling trip takes place, there’s an excellent spot to kayak in Colorado Springs.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.