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On the Water

Here are our top picks for the best places to paddle board in the valley.

Paddle boarding is a fun activity to do with friends and family, but it is also a great full-body workout while the sun is shining. This season, grab some mates, rent some equipment, and get out on the water to both relax and work your muscles while getting a tan.

Be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and wear those sunglasses and hats, as the sunshine can hit you at all angles when it reflects off the water. Additionally, wearing water shoes or secure sandals is helpful when getting in and out of the water steadily. And finally, bring an extra layer just in case, as you never know when it might get too sunny or too windy when you’re in the middle of the water. If you’re new to paddle boarding, try getting comfortable paddling on your knees for better stability. After a while, you can move to standing up if you feel like you have enough balance.

Roaring Fork Valley has plenty of places to paddle board—both for beginners and more experienced boarders—that really show off the beauty of the valley from the water, so here are some of the best places to get out on a paddle board.

Stillwater and North Star Nature Preserve

This part of the Roaring Fork River is a great option for beginners and anyone who wants to have more of a relaxing float, rather than a workout. Stillwater is especially great to get your footing and feel it out, as this section is comparable to a lazy river with its slow current. Start at Wildwood School, just out of town toward Independent Pass, and end your paddle at the Rainbow Bridge. On the way, you will see beautiful nature and wildlife along with other paddlers, tubers, kayakers, and canoers.

Ruedi Reservoir

Located about 16 miles up Frying Pan Road from Basalt, Ruedi Reservoir offers a great chance to explore the shoreline. This is one of the most popular paddle boarding destinations, so when you get there, find the meadowed area, as it has less boat traffic and the waters are calmer. You can also stay the night at Dearhammer Campground, which is the ideal place to start with your paddle board. If you want a more relaxing paddle, plan to visit the reservoir in the morning or evening, as mountain lakes are known for stronger afternoon winds.

Twin Lakes

On the east side of Independence Pass are two majestic glacial lakes called Twin Lakes, and these are both great for a scenic paddle. Both lakes are ringed with small beaches to take a break from the water. Much like Ruedi Reservoir, Twin Lakes also experience high winds in the afternoon, so morning and evening paddles are usually preferred for a less exhausting ride. One of the two Twin Lakes has a former resort on its shore, called Interlocken, which was built in 1879. This is a great bonus, along with views of Mount Elbert in the background of your paddle.

Glenwood Canyon from the Colorado River

While the Colorado River does have sections of big rapids, there are still sections that are perfect for paddle boarding. Exit 119 from I-70 leads you to No Name in Glenwood Canyon to find the start of your journey. This section of the rivers is relatively mild with a few rocks and riffles to keep paddle boarders on their toes. Take the river all the way to Two Rivers Park, where you can hop out and walk around town. This route offers stunning views of Glenwood Canyon, and you get to navigate Glenwood Spring’s “Horseshoe Bend” while taking in the beauty.