Kayaking at Dillon Reservoir: Tips and Tours


Dillon Reservoir, a stunning freshwater reservoir nestled in the heart of Summit County, Colorado, offers an incredible kayaking experience for outdoor enthusiasts. With its pristine waters, breathtaking mountain views, and diverse wildlife, Dillon Reservoir has become a premier destination for kayakers seeking adventure and tranquility in the Rocky Mountains.


  • Dillon Reservoir is a top kayaking destination in Colorado, offering pristine waters and stunning mountain views.
  • Essential gear and preparation are crucial for a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience on the reservoir.
  • Seasonal considerations and weather patterns impact kayaking activities at Dillon Reservoir.

Understanding Dillon Reservoir

Located between the towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne, Dillon Reservoir is easily accessible from the Denver Metro Area, just an hour’s drive away. The reservoir was created in 1963 as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which aimed to provide water supply to the city of Denver. Today, Dillon Reservoir not only serves as a vital water source but also as a thriving ecosystem and a hub for recreational activities, including kayaking.

Preparing for a Kayaking Adventure

To ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience at Dillon Reservoir, it’s essential to have the necessary equipment and take appropriate safety measures. Kayakers should bring a well-fitted life jacket, paddle, sunscreen, hat, and water. It’s also crucial to check weather conditions and be prepared for sudden changes, as mountain weather can be unpredictable.

Before setting out on the water, kayakers must acquire the necessary permits and understand the regulations governing the reservoir. This includes being aware of designated launch sites, such as the Dillon Dam Road launch,the Snake River Inlet launch, and the Frisco Bay Marina.

Kayaking Tours and Lessons

For those new to kayaking or seeking guidance, Dillon Reservoir offers guided tours and instructional courses. Adventure Paddle Tours, also known as Kayak Lake Dillon, provides expert-led kayaking tours that explore the reservoir’s coves and islands. These tours are conducted in tandem kayaks, ensuring stability and safety for participants.

Kayaking schools and instructional courses are also available for beginners looking to develop their skills and gain confidence on the water. Professional guidance can help novice kayakers navigate the reservoir safely and make the most of their experience.

Exploring the Waters of Dillon Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir presents a variety of kayaking routes and points of interest for paddlers to discover. Popular routes include exploring the islands and shallow waters of Giberson Bay, accessible from the Dillon Dam Road launch site. The Frisco Bay Marina is another excellent starting point, allowing kayakers to venture north into Giberson Bay or east along the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area.

While kayaking, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife and natural features surrounding the reservoir. Bald eagles, ospreys, and various waterfowl can often be spotted, adding to the awe-inspiring experience.

Seasonal Kayaking at Dillon Reservoir

The best times to go kayaking at Dillon Reservoir vary depending on personal preferences and weather conditions. Summer months offer warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, making it a popular time for kayaking. However, mornings tend to have calmer waters and less boat traffic, making them ideal for a peaceful paddling experience.

Fall brings stunning foliage colors to the surrounding mountains, creating a picturesque backdrop for kayaking. Spring and early summer may have cooler temperatures but offer a chance to witness the reservoir’s thriving ecosystem as wildlife becomes more active.

Family and Group Kayaking Dynamics

Dillon Reservoir is an excellent destination for family and group kayaking trips, offering activities and routes suitable for various skill levels. When planning a group kayaking excursion, consider the abilities and preferences of each participant to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Group safety and coordination on the water are paramount. Establish a communication plan, stay together, and designate a lead and sweep kayaker to keep the group organized. Encourage each member to paddle at a comfortable pace and take breaks as needed.

Supporting Services and Amenities

The towns surrounding Dillon Reservoir offer a range of services and amenities to support kayakers. Boat rental shops, such as Adventure Paddle Tours and Frisco Bay Marina, provide kayak rentals and gear for those who don’t have their own equipment.

Accommodations in the area include camping options, vacation rentals, and hotels. After a day on the water, kayakers can refuel at nearby dining establishments like the Island Grill at the Frisco Bay Marina, which offers a waterfront dining experience.

Environmental Conservation and Kayaker Responsibility

As kayakers enjoy the beauty of Lake Dillon Reservoir, it’s crucial to prioritize environmental conservation and responsible outdoor practices. The Leave No Trace principles serve as guidelines for minimizing impact on the natural surroundings.

Kayakers should properly dispose of waste, respect wildlife by maintaining a safe distance, and avoid disturbing sensitive habitats. By being mindful of their actions and supporting local conservation efforts, kayakers can contribute to preserving the reservoir’s ecosystem for future generations.

FAQ Section

What are the requirements for kayaking at Dillon Reservoir?

Kayakers must have a life jacket and paddle, and adhere to all safety regulations. Permits may be required and can be obtained from local authorities.

Are there any guided kayaking tours available at Dillon Reservoir?

Yes, guided kayaking tours are offered by companies like Adventure Paddle Tours, providing expert instruction and exploration of the reservoir’s highlights.

What should I do to prepare for weather changes while kayaking?

Check weather forecasts before heading out, bring appropriate clothing layers, and be prepared to adjust your plans if conditions become unfavorable.

Can beginners take kayaking lessons at Dillon Reservoir?

Yes, kayaking schools and instructional courses are available for beginners to learn proper techniques and safety skills for kayak, tandem kayak, and paddle board.

What are the best times of year to go kayaking on Dillon Reservoir?

Summer is popular for warm weather and long days, but fall offers stunning foliage views. Morning hours tend to have calmer conditions suitable for kayaking.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.