Discover Colorado's Hidden Wildlife Gems: 20 Enchanting Paddle Boarding Destinations!

Colorado's picturesque landscapes and diverse ecosystems offer a wealth of opportunities to witness captivating wildlife up close. If you're an outdoor enthusiast seeking a unique and immersive wildlife viewing experience, paddle boarding is the perfect way to navigate Colorado's tranquil waters and encounter its fascinating inhabitants. From majestic mammals to graceful birds and elusive aquatic species, this article presents 20 of the best paddle boarding locations in Colorado for wildlife enthusiasts.

  1. Barr Lake State Park:

    Barr Lake State Park – Colorado Birding Trail

    Located just 30 minutes northeast of Denver, Barr Lake State Park is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. Paddle along the serene lake waters to observe majestic bald eagles, graceful great blue herons, and a variety of waterfowl. Spring and fall are the best times to visit when migratory birds pass through the park.

  2. Chatfield State Park:

    Chatfield Reservoir Expansion — Martin and Wood Water Consultants | Colorado

    Nestled southwest of Denver, Chatfield State Park provides a picturesque setting for paddle boarders. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer gracefully sipping water from the shorelines. With luck, you might even spot red foxes or playful raccoons. Summer and early fall offer the best wildlife viewing opportunities.

  3. Cherry Creek State Park:

    Englewood - Cherry Creek State Park - Great Runs

    Conveniently located near Denver, Cherry Creek State Park is an oasis of wildlife within the city. Glide through the tranquil waters to observe a variety of birds, including great horned owls, belted kingfishers, and American white pelicans. Early mornings and evenings are the best times to catch these avian wonders.

  4. Eleven Mile State Park:

    Eleven Mile State Park (Lake George): All You Need to Know

    Situated southwest of Colorado Springs, Eleven Mile State Park is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. On your paddle board adventure, keep an eye out for the park's resident bald eagles, ospreys, and peregrine falcons. Early summer, during the nesting season, is the prime time to witness these impressive birds of prey.

  5. Steamboat Lake State Park:

    STEAMBOAT LAKE STATE PARK CAMPSITES - Campground Reviews (Steamboat  Springs, CO)

    Located in the beautiful Yampa Valley, Steamboat Lake State Park is a scenic wonderland teeming with wildlife. Paddle amidst the serene lake to spot moose grazing along the shorelines, while ospreys and western grebes gracefully dive for fish. Late spring and early summer offer the best chances to see these magnificent creatures.

  6. Standley Lake:

    The importance of Standley Lake

    Just outside of Arvada, Standley Lake is a peaceful retreat that attracts a variety of bird species. Glide along the water's edge to catch glimpses of American white pelicans, great blue herons, and double-crested cormorants. Spring and summer months bring a flurry of avian activity, making it an ideal time to visit.

  7. Jackson Lake State Park:

    Jackson Lake State Park | Ohio Department of Natural Resources

    Located on the eastern plains of Colorado, Jackson Lake State Park is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Explore the expansive lake on your paddle board to encounter graceful deer, raccoons, and even coyotes along the shoreline. Spring and early summer provide excellent opportunities to observe these terrestrial mammals.

  8. Lake Granby:

    Top 5 Lake Granby Activities - Destination Granby

    Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Lake Granby offers breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. Paddle along the pristine waters to spot soaring bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons. Early mornings and evenings are ideal for witnessing these majestic birds in action.

  9. Horsetooth Reservoir: Situated west of Fort Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir is a popular paddle boarding destination with stunning wildlife sightings. As you navigate the reservoir, keep an eye out for mule deer and bighorn sheep grazing on the rocky hillsides. Spring and early summer are the best times to spot these magnificent mammals.

  10. San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area:

    Water may reach San Luis Lake this year — the Valley Courier – Coyote Gulch

    Nestled in the San Luis Valley, San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area is a birdwatcher's paradise. Paddle along the tranquil waters to observe an array of waterfowl, including American avocets, black-necked stilts, and sandhill cranes. Spring and fall are the peak seasons for bird migration.

  11. Pueblo Reservoir:

    Lake Pueblo, Colorado State Park - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

    South of Pueblo, Pueblo Reservoir offers a captivating wildlife experience for paddle boarders. Glide through the waters to spot American white pelicans, great blue herons, and western grebes. The reservoir's diverse birdlife is particularly abundant in late spring and early summer.

  12. John Martin Reservoir State Park:

    John Martin Reservoir State Park

    Nestled in southeastern Colorado, John Martin Reservoir State Park is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Paddle along the lake to observe majestic bald eagles, white pelicans, and double-crested cormorants. Spring and fall are the prime seasons for birdwatching.

  13. Blue Mesa Reservoir:

    Blue Mesa Reservoir: Colorado Beach |

    Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Blue Mesa Reservoir offers a unique paddle boarding experience. Explore the reservoir's crystal-clear waters to spot mule deer and bighorn sheep along the shoreline. Late spring and early summer provide the best opportunities to observe these magnificent mammals.

  14. Rifle Gap State Park:

    Boat ramps to close for the season at Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap State Parks

    Nestled in the picturesque Western Slope region, Rifle Gap State Park is a tranquil oasis with diverse wildlife. Paddle through the scenic reservoir to observe white-tailed deer grazing and elusive black bears foraging in the nearby forests. Early mornings and evenings offer the best chances to encounter these remarkable creatures.

  15. Lake John:

    Lake John Resort - 21 Photos, 1 Reviews - Walden, CO - RoverPass

    Located near Walden, Lake John is a serene alpine lake renowned for its exceptional trout fishing. While paddling, keep an eye out for resident moose, as they often frequent the marshy areas along the shore. Early mornings and late evenings provide the best opportunity to spot these magnificent mammals.

  16. North Sterling State Park:

    North Sterling State Park – Sterling, CO | North Sterling Reservoir

    Situated in northeastern Colorado, North Sterling State Park is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Paddle through the tranquil waters to witness the grace of American white pelicans, great blue herons, and bald eagles. Late spring and early summer are ideal for birdwatching at the park.

  17. Spinney Mountain State Park:

    Spinney Mountain State Park |

    Nestled in the South Park region of Colorado, Spinney Mountain State Park is a paradise for birdwatchers and anglers alike. Paddle along the serene reservoir to observe a variety of waterfowl, including majestic bald eagles and double-crested cormorants. Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit for wildlife sightings.

  18. Antero Reservoir:

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    Located amidst the scenic beauty of the South Park region, Antero Reservoir offers a picturesque paddle boarding experience. As you explore the tranquil waters, keep an eye out for mule deer and herds of pronghorn grazing along the shoreline. Late spring and early summer provide the best chances to spot these terrestrial mammals.

  19. Jumbo Reservoir:

    Jumbo Reservoir closed to all motorized boats for the season – The Fort  Morgan Times

    Situated in northeastern Colorado, Jumbo Reservoir is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Paddle through the calm waters to observe waterfowl species such as mallards, Canada geese, and common mergansers. Spring and fall bring an influx of migratory birds, offering an extraordinary birdwatching experience.

  20. Lake Trinidad State Park:

    Photos of Trinidad Lake State Park, Colorado trails | AllTrails

    Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Lake Trinidad State Park offers a tranquil retreat for paddle boarding enthusiasts. Glide along the calm waters to observe great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and majestic bald eagles. Spring and fall are the prime seasons to witness the park's diverse birdlife.


Colorado's scenic beauty extends beyond its majestic mountains, captivating visitors with its abundant wildlifeand serene waters. Paddle boarding allows you to immerse yourself in the natural world, providing unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife up close. From soaring bald eagles and graceful herons to elusive moose and deer, Colorado's paddle boarding destinations offer a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts.

Whether you choose to explore the calm lakes near Denver or venture into the remote corners of the state, each location has its own unique charm and wildlife encounters. From Barr Lake State Park's bald eagles and Chatfield State Park's white-tailed deer to Horsetooth Reservoir's bighorn sheep and San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area's migrating birds, the possibilities for wildlife sightings are endless.

Remember to plan your paddle boarding adventures during the optimal seasons for wildlife viewing. Spring and fall are generally the best times to observe migratory birds, while summer and early fall offer opportunities to spot terrestrial mammals. However, it's essential to respect the wildlife and their habitats, keeping a safe distance and practicing responsible outdoor ethics.

Embark on a journey through Colorado's hidden wildlife gems, gliding along tranquil waters, and witnessing nature's wonders from the unique vantage point of a paddle board. As you paddle silently through the water, you'll forge a deep connection with the natural world, creating memories that will last a lifetime. So grab your paddle board, explore these captivating locations, and let Colorado's wildlife enchant you on your next adventure.

Tips, Tricks, and Fun Articles await.

Here are a few quick links to help you keep going, don't forget to check our blog out for more tips and expert advice. For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards. Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you! And check out the Glide O2 Angler and why it makes an incredible platform for birding and wildlife viewing.