Colorado: Your Unlikely Water Park
When people think of Colorado, most do not envision the state as a prime location for outdoor water sports and activities. Although it is known for its wicked hikes up 14ers and mountain biking, Colorado may surprise you with its offerings in the water sports world.
We may not have oceans, but we do have incredible lakes, beautiful rivers, and plentiful amounts of outdoor water sports activities that are fun for all ages. Some of the Pikes Peak Region’s best water activities locations are just steps from your front door, while others require an adventure outside of your comfort zone.
Get ready to experience the serenity of Colorado’s waters and the powerfully intense liquid forces that cut through our mountains and valleys. We promise these adventures will leave you wanting more of Colorado’s unlikely water parks.
DRAGONFLY PADDLE YOGA – Colorado Springs & Monument
Many believe water to have therapeutic properties that can enhance a human’s overall well-being, notably by bringing peace and relieving stress. In line with their mission, Dragonfly Paddle Yoga seeks to combine the healing energy of water with the tranquil practice of yoga and the relaxing fun of stand-up paddleboarding, thus providing a calming experience. Guests are offered an opportunity to reconnect with themselves whilst surrounded by nature.
For their 90-minute session, the instructor will help you connect to your breath through flowing yoga sequences. Dragonfly Paddle Yoga welcomes all skill levels, as long as guests are 18 years or older, can swim, are not afraid for getting a little wet, and are up to the challenge of improving the balance within. Classes take place at Prospect Lake, Quail Lake, and Monument Lake.
Founder Christine Malmborg fell in love with the idea of Paddleboard Yoga during a trip to Cabos San Lucas, Mexico, and brought the practice to Colorado after moving here just 13 years ago. She believes that practicing yoga on a paddleboard is both “an empowering and peaceful experience.”
SUNWATER SPA – Manitou Springs
SunWater Spa is delightful retreat for the soul, tucked against America’s mountain, Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs. The SunWater Spa facility came to be just four years ago when owner Kat Tudor decided that the lessons of healing learned during her travels abroad should be brought home and shared.
At Sunwater Spa, guests can enjoy a luxurious soak in Ute Indian healing waters that originate from the famous 7 Minute Spring. Coming in at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the mineral waters are heated to between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit using solar energy, and spill out into large cedar tubs that comfortably seat two to four people.
Kat recommends soaking with Sunwater Spa because it has a variety of positive health benefits that improve blood circulation, promote healthy skin, relieve joint pain, and enhance sleep quality.
Sunwater Spa is not just a place for a quiet soak; it is also home to a salt water plunge pool, yoga, aqua yoga, tai chi, and more. It is also a preferred place to spend your evenings after an intense hike up the Manitou Incline, a long drive up Pikes Peak, or a visit to Manitou Springs.
ROYAL GORGE RAFTING – Canon City
One Location. 100% Fun. That’s the Royal Gorge Rafting motto. Colorado is home to some of the best white water rafting in the nation, and they’re proud of it. If you’re looking for anything from family fun to world-class rafting adventures for the advanced river rats, Royal Gorge Rafting is the place for you. Trips start at $69 per person and are ideal for anyone on a budget.
Tackle the fierce waters of the Gorge in a raft or kayak with professional white water guides that will steer you in the right direction. Pass through iconic rapids like Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer, The Narrows and many more all while marveling at the famous Royal Gorge Bridge above you.
If you’re not up for a thrilling or intense adventure, more leisurely trips on the river can be enjoyed in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Perfect for ages six years and up, families will come across enjoyable rapids such as Wake Up, Spikebuck, Sharks Tooth, along with breaks on stretches of calming river runs. And if you’re lucky, you may even see a small herd of bighorn sheep during your adventure.
Prime time for your rafting trip begins in April and last through September. Guests can reserve a half-day outing or a full-day adventure, the latter of which includes their famous, hearty fajita lunch prepared for you on a riverside beach.
SKAGUAY RESERVOIR – Cripple Creek
Not far from the historic gold mining district of Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado lies an unexpected water retreat for the avid angler, still-water kayaker, swimmer, small boater, or simply lover of scenery. With 174 square acres of water playground, Skaguay Reservoir may just be the body of water that you’ve been searching for.
Visitors can easily drive up to the reservoir for a weekend camping trip with their boats or kayaks. They can also opt to reach the reservoir via a lengthy hike through Beaver Creek Canyon, past the the Skaguay Power Plant, through thick forests, and alongside the beautiful Beaver Creek. Be advised, the hike to Skaguay is for intermediate to advanced hikers and requires waterproof gear in some areas.
For anglers, Skaguay is a prime fishing location for pike, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and the rare catches of cutthroat trout. Great fishing holes can also be found in Beaver Creek, the river that spills into Skaguay Reservoir. This reservoir is also a safe place for people who enjoy lake swimming and cold plunges in mountain waters to escape the summer heat. Curious visitors looking for secret areas to swim can also find fun swimming holes in Beaver Creek.
This unlikely watery getaway is a perfect summer retreat for friend and family trips or solo adventures. As with all outdoor adventures in Colorado, beware of the wildlife and take the proper precautions when planning your trip.
ARKANSAS RIVER TOURS – Cotopaxi & Cañon City
Explore Colorado’s wild side. Whether assembling a summer team building experience or a family summer retreat, Arkansas River Tours is all about customer service. This company thrives on providing a professional and exciting outdoor water sports experience for its guests. In addition to its rafting tours, it also offers fishing tours and yoga retreats.
On those hot summer days, imagine feeling the splash of cool water on your feet as you enjoy your quarter, half, or full-day adventure. Perharps a multiday retreat is more your thing — how about a three day whitewater adventure through some of Colorado’s best waters, combining Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Brown’s Canyon, and the Royal Gorge?
The rafting tours cater to beginners and advanced level white water sports enthusiasts of all ages. If you’re concerned about your rafting level, and you’re a first time rafter, you can visit their website FAQs to learn which rapid is right for you. No rapid is too small or large, just take your pick and Arkansas River Tours will take care of the rest.
TWIN LAKES BOATING TOURS – Twin Lakes (Leadville)
Take a boating tour on a 28-foot Aldweld aluminum watercraft at the base of some of the highest mountains in the Rockies, Mt. Elbert and La Plata Peak. On this boat tour, you’ll pass through a channel in Twin Lakes to visit the upper and lower lakes en route to the Interlaken, a historical resort built in the 1800s when Leadville’s rich mining moguls sought a vacation getaway. During the boat tour, your informative guides will tell you about the role of glaciers in the formation of these enchanting lakes, where the geese now roam and anglers make their dinner catches.
The boat tour makes a stop on the shore in front of the famous Dexter Cabin. From there, it’s just a short stroll to explore all the old buildings at the Interlaken.
Twin Lakes Interlaken Boat Tours operate from June to September from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For a mere $20 per person, customers can enjoy a two-hour tour, while cyclists, campers, anglers, hunters, and hikers can hitch a one-way ride to the other side of Twin Lakes for half the cost.
Now that you’re in the know about the Pike Peak region’s potential for water adventure, don’t let us tell you twice to get outside and hit the water! Whatever your aquatic adventure this summer, make it a Colorado one and play safe.
Dragonfly Paddle Yoga • Locations in Colorado Springs and Monument • dragonflypaddleyoga.com
SunWater Spa • 514 El Paso Blvd., Manitou Springs • sunwellness.net
Royal Gorge Rafting • 45045 W. U.S. 50, Cañon City • royalgorgerafting.net
Skaguay Reservoir • 7 miles east of Victor, via County Road 861 • cpw.state.co.us
Arkansas River Tours • Cotopaxi and Cañon City • arkansasrivertours.com
Twin Lakes & Interlaken Boat Tours • Red Rooster Boat Ramp, Twin Lakes • twinlakesinterlakenboattours.com
Words and Photos by Kelly Branyik