Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park Water Activities

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park Water Activities


Estes Park: home to Lake Estes and in touching distance of the Rocky Mountain National Park, offers so many excellent water activities for the whole family to enjoy, such as fishing for some amazing trout, paddle-boarding, kayaking and boating.

At Lake Estes marina you can rent out kayaks, paddle boards; even pontoon boats to get you out on the water. Here are some of our favorite water sports and activities.

Kayaking and boating

Kayaking Estes Park Vacation

There are many lakes and rivers in the Estes Park valley and Rocky Mountain National Park. Of these, only a few provide for recreational boating. Lake Estes, which covers 185 surface acres, is the most popular. At the Lake Estes marina, visitors can rent a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board, motorized fishing boats, pontoon boats and paddle boats. 

Head out on the lake and take in the magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and landscape. Boating is a great fun way to spend a few hours or a whole day. You can fish, read, paddle, swim, even snooze on the boat! In addition, it provides a perfect opportunity to explore some of the smaller inlets away from the crowds. 

Our appreciation for Lake Estes is one of the major reasons we decided to purchase Lake Estes Retreat, which is a modern luxury 4 bedroom, 4 and ½ bathroom luxury vacation rental located on Lake Estes that can accommodate 8 guests. This property is one of the most unique and inspiring vacation rentals in Estes Park.  If you want the benefits staying on a lake and also close to the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the place for you!  This is one of the few privately owned pieces of property that directly abuts the nearly 4-mile Lake Estes Trail that circles Lake Estes. 

Or, if you are looking to spend some time on a river instead of the lake like the ‘happy’ couple below you could embark on a kayaking expedition along the beautiful Colorado River.

Video Credit: theHikingMermaid

White water rafting

Video Credit: Cesar Garzon

If you are craving an adrenaline rush, then white water rafting is for you. One of the best places for white water rafting is the Cache la Poudre River which offers ii-iv rapids to keep you in the zone. The river which is northwest of Fort Collins is the first and only designated National Wild and Scenic River with a thrilling whitewater rafting experience.

The best white water rafting guides include:

Rocky Mountain Adventures: they have professional guides and specially selected rafts for both first time and experienced rafters to enjoy.

Mountain Whitewater: also operates on the Cache la Poudre to deliver an exceptional wilderness rafting experience with state of the art equipment

A1 Wildwater: which has been providing exciting quality rafting adventures on the Cache la Poudre River.

Estes Park Riverwalk

Video Credit: DJ Walsh

The Estes Park Riverwalk is an idyllic paved trail that runs along the banks of the Big Thompson and Fall Rivers, which meander through downtown Estes Park past shops, eateries and galleries. The central point of the riverwalk is found at George Hix Riverside Plaza, stroll along the river bank taking in the scenic route with statues, fountains and bridges along the way. It’s a wonderfully therapeutic experience and you can retreat to a riverside patio for lunch. 

Besides the trail along Big Thompson and Fall Rivers, you can also enjoy the trail that takes you around Lake Estes. The perfect combination of exercise, scenery and contemplation.

Fishing in Estes Valley & Rocky Mountain National Park

Fishing at Sprague Lake_Estes Park Vacation
Fishing at Sprague Lake: Photo credit: NPS Natural Resources

The Rocky Mountain National Park provides high country stream, river and lake fishing. It is one of the world’s most popular fishing destinations since it is the headwaters for the Colorado, Big Thompson, Cache la Poudre and Fall Rivers. It is especially great for fly and spin fishing and there are several local companies who offer guided fishing trips and outdoor adventures. Booking a guided fishing trip is often the only way to get to the best spots for that ‘big’ catch. 

The season runs from around mid-June through mid-October, when the trout are plentiful and eager for a bite. A Colorado fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years and over.

Best locations for fishing

There are many great spots to enjoy a day out fishing in Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s said that the deeper you get into the park the better the scenery, but the smaller the catch. 

Around the Estes Valley river and lakes the size of fish can be around 18-22 inches, in the higher mountain lakes fish size is around 12-16 inches, and in the Moraine Park area, you’ll find the smallest fish size on average 6-10 inches. 

Lake Estes: Rainbow trout, Sockeye salmon, Cutthroat trout, Brown trout, Yellow perch. We love the fact that it is so easy to fish on Lake Estes. The lake is stocked and there are multiple easy places along the lake to throw out a line. It is hard to beat as a place to take kids fishing. You can get a fishing license and fishing gear at the Lake Estes Marina and there are several shops in town that sell them as well.

Big Thompson River: Access from Fern Lake trailhead to Moraine Park. Find brook, rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout

Sprague Lake: Brook, brown and rainbow trout

Cache La Poudre River: Brown trout, rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout

Fishing supplies and rentals

If you are looking for fishing supplies, there are numerous fly shops and guided tour companies around Estes Park, who can provide everything you need for your big fishing adventure. 

Kirk’s Fly Shop Estes Park: this is a premier fly shop that not only offers fishing equipment but also organizes fishing trips in rocky mountain national park, Estes Park valley and the Big Thompson River. 

Sasquatch Fly Fishing: this company specializes in creating true fly fishing experiences. You can buy your fishing equipment from them or go on one of their many fishing trips which they organize.

Estes Angler: fly fishing and spin fishing outfitter in Estes Park dedicated to family fishing trips. They offer guided trips through the lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park, Bog Thompson River and surrounding areas.

Video Credit: Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park Bucket List

The Best Things To See And Do In The Area
Estes Park Wildlife
Estes Park Wildlife

Get ready to meet some wild residents up close. 

Top Attractions
Top Attractions

You’ll be spoilt for choice with so many attractions!

Estes Park Hiking
Estes Park Hiking

Oh yes. 300 miles of hiking and walking trails await.

Horseback Riding
Horseback Riding

Saddle Up – The perfect way to enjoy the scenic landscape.

Water Activities
Water Activities

Excellent water activities for the whole family.

Estes Park Kids
Estes Park Kids

Our favorite kid-friendly activities in Estes Park.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch

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