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Top 5 Places to Dip your Paddle in Durango
From the bow of an inflatable paddleboard, visitors gain intimate access to Durango’s most vibrant aquatic areas. Alpine lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, pristine with snowmelt, invite exciting adventures beyond the red dirt trails.
Whether you’re looking for a change in perspective or a new fitness challenge, paddle sports offer a dynamic way to explore the southwest. Beginner-friendly and addictive, paddling is simply part of the pulse of Durango culture.
Use your newfound vessel for fishing, fitness, yoga, or as a floatable sundeck under the snow-capped peaks and hot Colorado sun. When you rent a canoe, SUP (stand up paddleboard), or kayak from your local outfitter, you’re guaranteed to unlock a new world to travel and explore.
Where to Rent:
4Corners Riversports: Boasting the largest selection of paddlesport rentals, 4Corners facilitates expeditions both big and small. Find everything from fishing kayaks and canoes to raft and SUP board rentals. Rent on-site at Lake Nighthorse for extra convenience or visit the store at 360 S. Camino del Rio.
Southwest Raft and Jeep: Choose between inflatable and hard boards at Southwest Raft and Jeep. You’ll find a variety of different sizes and models to choose from, including Bote, Red, Glide, and NRS brands. Book online for a half, full, or multi-day reservation. Your rental will include a SUP board, paddle, and pump and carrying bag.
Durango Rivertrippers: Rent for a full or half-day with Durango Rivertrippers and your rental will include everything you need for the perfect paddle. Helmet, wet-suit (if needed), paddle, pump, and PFD (personal floatation device) are all provided and workshops are offered for those who want a more educational experience.
Where to go:
Nestled away from the bustle of town, Vallecito is a haven for lake life and aquatic recreation. With 12 miles of shoreline and 4.3 square miles of water surface, you could spend days navigating through these deep, cool waters. The reservoir is open to fishing, boating, sailing, paddling, hiking and even hunting during the season. Spend your days by the water and nights at the local Pura Vida Cafe or Rusty Shovel Saloon.
2. Animas River
Durango would not exist if it weren’t for the river that runs through it. The Animas River, accessible from the heart of Durango, is our town’s most famous front yard attraction. With a guide to lead you, paddling the Animas River can be a wildly fun and extreme adventure. Learn more about keeping safe in the whitewater here.
Newly opened to the public, Lake Nighthorse is located just two miles from downtown Durango. As convenient as it is unspoiled, you can rent SUP boards directly onsite from 4Corners Riversports. These bright blue waters, framed by mountain mesas, extend for more than 1,500 acres of open use area. A number of activities are hosted throughout the summer, ranging from drop-in kayak football to stand-up paddle board hockey and yoga classes. Open to boating, fishing, swimming, and paddle sports of all kinds, you’ll find plenty of reasons to spend your afternoon down by the water. There is also wake boarding and surfing with Outback Adventures.
4. Electra Lake
With perfect views of Engineer Peak and a 10-mile shoreline, Electra Lake offers a higher altitude piece of paddling paradise. Spend your day hiking up and around for scenic birds eye views, then drop into the basin for an alpine lake experience. Float the uncrowded waters open only to boating and fishing for a quiet, simple excursion. Before you go, make reservations for dinner at the hidden eatery on the water, the Boathouse at Electra. Newly opened, cozy, and not well-known, this lakeside restaurant offers local cuisine with a VIP feel. There is a fee to access this beautiful lake
Located directly across from Purgatory Resort, Twilight Lake is open exclusively to paddling and fishing. Enjoy a wake-free ride across the clear, flat waters with mountain views and quick resort access. Next door, you’ll find ziplines, ropes courses, an alpine slide, the Purgatory Bike Park and so much more to tack on your itinerary. Rent directly from Durango Board and Boat for a convenient experience to pair with your summer adventure at Purgatory Resort.