Colorado may be best known for its Rocky Mountains, but it’s also called the "Mother of Rivers" and the “Headwaters State.” More major rivers start in Colorado’s snowy high country than any other state. Is it any wonder that water lovers from around the world head to north-central Colorado for water sports and recreation?
Nowhere is this more apparent than Kremmling. Located just two hours from Denver in Grand County, this diamond-in-the-rough town is a hidden gem for water lovers. For a romantic weekend getaway, adventurous corporate retreat, or affordable family vacation, Kremmling may be Colorado’s best-kept secret.
Water, Water, Everywhere
The Colorado River stretches 1,450 miles through seven states and into Mexico, carving out the Grand Canyon in Arizona and filling Nevada’s Lake Mead. This mighty waterway begins in Colorado with its headwaters located at La Poudre Pass, roughly 40 miles (as the crow flies) northeast of Kremmling. Snowmelt flows freely southwest from the pass to form the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park before meeting the Blue River and Muddy Creek at Kremmling. These three waterways fill the Williams Fork, Green Mountain, and Wolford Mountain Reservoirs, respectively. Kremmling’s rivers, rapids, and reservoirs provide an endless supply of wet and wild adventures.
Unlike the nearby trendy ski towns, Kremmling’s a place for laid-back comfort and the perfect destination for value-minded travelers. You’ll feel right at home with the Old West history and culture that make this town as natural and familiar as your favorite pair of blue jeans or cowboy boots. There’s no pressure here—just warm folks and old-fashioned hospitality. So slip into the town of Kremmling and get ready for a wet summer of adventure.
Hit the Rapids
Kremmling offers a healthy sampling of water sports, and there’s something for everyone. Take the family on a leisurely float along the upper Colorado River, the "Upper C," as it’s known to locals. Enjoy whitewater thrills on class I to class IV rapids, by kayak or raft. Experienced paddlers pump up the adrenaline with a mad dash through big class V rapids in Gore Canyon, where the river drops 400 feet in a mere five miles.
Local outfitters like Liquid Descent, AVA, Mad Adventures, and Adventures in Whitewater provide raft and kayak gear for groups, families, couples, and individual trips. (Most outings come with tasty meals included.) Guided half-day, full-day, and overnight trips are available, or you can rent a raft, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and make your own adventure. Wetsuits, splash jackets, personal flotation devices, helmets, and booties are also provided for guided trips and available for rent for private outings.
Your outfitter shuttles you to nearby access points along the Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the Upper Colorado River Recreation Area. For "paddle-it-yourselfers," the BLM’s Kremmling field office can answer questions and point you to the nearest boat launches including Radium, State Bridge, and Pumphouse Recreation Site. Tent and RV camping, picnic tables, shelters, grills, fire rings, and vault toilets are available at some launch sites.
Enjoying a Sportsman’s Paradise
Dubbed "The Sportsman’s Paradise," Kremmling is also the perfect basecamp for fishing, boating, and camping. For fly fishing, cast your line in the deep pools and coves of the Colorado River, Blue River, and Muddy Creek. Enjoy lakeside or boat fishing at three nearby reservoirs—or extend your stay and check them all out. Anglers revel in year-round fishing at these reservoirs for kokanee salmon, northern pike, roundtail chub, and rainbow, lake, and brown trout.
Ten minutes north on U.S. 40, the 1,550-acre Wolford Mountain Reservoir offers a marina, boat launch, boat rentals, and a beach for swimming, plus tent and RV camping at Wolford Campground. East of Kremmling on U.S. 40 and County Road 3, the 1,600-acre Williams Fork Reservoir has a boat ramp, picnic area, and RV and tent camping. South of Kremmling on CO 9, visit the 2,125-acre Green Mountain Reservoir for picnicking, the Heeney Marina, seasonal rustic camping at Cataract Creek, Prairie Point, McDonald Flats, Cow Creek North, Cow Creek South, Elliott Creek, and Willows Campgrounds, and year-round dispersed camping in the White River National Forest. Visit recreation.gov to reserve a campsite or see which ones are first-come/first-served. Many of the campgrounds are dry, so bring your own water.
Use your own boat or rent one for your stay. Choose from jet skiing, water skiing, canoeing, kneeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, pontoon boating, knee boarding, fly fishing, bait fishing, ice fishing, and more. You’ll never run out of ways to enjoy the water in Kremmling.
Stick Around for the After Party
Kremmling’s budget-friendly lodging, restaurants, and breweries keep you happy, comfortable, and well-fed during your downtime. Take a daytime walking tour through historic Kremmling, visit the Heritage Park Museum, or book a "fun shoot" at the local shooting range. If you’re in town for the weekend, spend an evening with live music at Grand Adventure Brewing. Drop by the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for more ideas and be sure to check out their online calendar of events for annual celebrations like Kremmling Days, July 4th’s Fire Up the Cliffs, and the Middle Park Fair & Rodeo.
Day Trips Within an Hour of Kremmling
Kremmling’s location at the junction of U.S. 40 and CO 9 provides quick access to oodles of out-of-town adventures for day-tripping. North of town, Steamboat Springs offers hot springs soaking, rafting, kayaking, and tubing on the Yampa River, and fishing, boating, and water skiing on Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake, and Stagecoach Reservoir.
South of Kremmling, Summit County is home to iconic ski towns like Breckenridge, Frisco, Keystone, and Silverthorne. These mountain meccas aren’t just for snow sports. You’ll find plenty to do in the summertime, from sailing at Lake Dillon to hydro-biking at Copper Mountain, and disc golf at Frisco Adventure Park.
Southeast of Kremmling, check out Winter Park for hiking, biking, and zip-lining. Then head northeast to Grand Lake, the biggest, deepest natural lake in the state, or visit Rocky Mountain National Park for miles of hiking trails, sparkling lakes, waterfalls, and stunning mountains like 14,259-foot Longs Peak.
With so much to do and see around Kremmling, you’ll be tempted to make your Grand County vacation an annual tradition. Give in to the temptation—getaways like this, with people you care about, make memories that last a lifetime.
Written by Susan Joy Paul for RootsRated Media in partnership with RootsRated.
Featured image provided by Patricia Henschen