Kayaking Pagosa Springs Overview
Located in southern Colorado, just 35 miles north of the border of New Mexico, is a town called Pagosa Springs. As you may have guessed, it’s known for its namesake thermal hot springs. Lesser known but equally remarkable is the incredible outdoors scene that surrounds the town. Based on the top of the San Juan Basin and surrounded by the 3-million-acre San Juan National Forest, the outdoor adventures are endless.
Pagosa Springs has the world’s deepest geothermal hot springs, making a hot springs soak a must-do when visiting. But there are other ways to enjoy the water here, too, that are just as rejuvenating and refreshing! Kayaking in Pagosa Springs is a popular summer activity with plenty of flat water and lake kayaking for all levels of paddler.
Why Kayaking Near Pagosa is Great
There is so much to love about kayaking in this beautiful place. Here are a few of our favorite things about kayaking Pagosa Springs:
Choices, Choices, Choices
This area offers plenty of variety for the paddler. With the San Juan River running right through town and a ton of kayak lakes near Pagosa Springs, you can have a different paddling experience every day of your vacation.
Small Town Vibes
Pagosa Springs has about 2,000 year-round residents. The small size of this town means you aren’t battling crowds or waiting in line. We think Pagosa Springs is an underrated recreation town and you’ll love the quaint, small-town feel.
Where to Go Kayaking in Pagosa Springs
Like we said – the choices are one of our favorite things about kayaking near Pagosa Springs. You might want to extend that kayak rental, because there are a lot of lakes and river stretches to explore in this bountiful mountain region.
Kayaking the San Juan in Pagosa Springs
The San Juan River flows directly through downtown Pagosa Springs, which makes it a super convenient kayaking trip. The two-mile stretch that runs through downtown is popular for summer water activities like kayaking, rafting and tubing. It is also chocked full of swimming holes, hot springs pools, and beaches. It’s easy to make your kayaking trip on the San Juan River last a full day, even if you don’t paddle that far! The river also flows through the incredible Mesa Canyon, where paddlers can take in the steep cliffs and paddle Class III rapids throughout the summer months. Inflatable kayaks that combine the maneuverability of a hard-shell kayak with the stability of an inflatable raft are perfect for the San Juan River. These one-person kayaks are easy to learn and can handle all the rapids on the San Juan.
Williams Creek Reservoir
If you’re looking for flat water kayaking, Pagosa Springs has a number of lakes and reservoirs for a calm day paddle. Williams Creek Reservoir is about 27 miles from Pagosa Springs and makes for a sublime day of paddling. There are many coves to explore and sandy beaches all around the 508-acre lake, which is surrounded by lush forests and towering peaks.
Big Meadow Reservoir
Another one of the excellent kayak lakes near Pagosa Springs is Big Meadow Reservoir, located just east of the Continental Divide on Wolf Creek Pass, about 30 miles from town. Scenic kayaking and picnic opportunities are available – plus, those spectacular views of the surrounding mountains never get old.
Echo Canyon Reservoir
Echo Canyon Reservoir is a 65-acre lake located in a state wildlife area only 5 miles from Pagosa Springs. Ponderosa pine and native grasses line the shore and the reservoir has a scenic mountain backdrop.
When to Go Kayaking in Pagosa Springs
The summer months of June and July when the weather is warm and the San Juan River water levels drop is the perfect time to cool off in the water. The San Juan River levels are high in May and early June, when the snowmelt fills the river canyon and causes fast currents. The lakes and reservoirs can be kayaked practically year round with the proper clothing, but we recommend the months of April through October for the best weather.
Getting to Pagosa Springs
One of the coolest things about Pagosa Springs is that you have access to all four corners when you visit this southern Colorado town. You can easily drive to some of the most beautiful parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona from Pagosa Springs – which also means you can arrive to the town via these states, as well.
Pagosa Springs has a small county airport, but all the flights that land here connect through the airport in Durango – La Plata County Airport – which is about an hour’s drive from Pagosa Springs. The largest nearby international airports are Denver International Airport, which is about a 5 hour drive from Pagosa Springs, and Albuquerque International Sunport, less than 4 hour’s drive.
Pagosa Springs Kayak Rentals Rentals, Tours & Lessons
For those who want to kayak Pagosa Springs, renting your gear is the way to go. TripOutside offers the best Pagosa Springs kayaking guides, along with guided tours and lessons. Our outfitter partners are all four star rated or above, and they are some of the most experienced Pagosa Springs kayaking providers in the state of Colorado. We take the guesswork out of booking your Pagosa kayaking trip – all of our outfitters provide top notch service and safety.
Pagosa Springs Kayaking FAQs
Where can I kayak in Pagosa Springs?
Some of the most popular kayaking in Pagosa Springs is on the San Juan River or one of the many lakes that surround the town, such as Navajo Reservoir, Echo Canyon Reservoir, or Williams Creek Reservoir.
What river is in Pagosa Springs?
The San Juan River runs through downtown Pagosa Springs.
Where can I rent a kayak in Pagosa Springs?
There are numerous awesome outfitters for Pagosa Springs kayak rentals – and we’ve got them right here for you on TripOutside!