The 10 Most Scenic Colorado Rivers
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10 Most Scenic Colorado Rivers

Arkansas River Rafting in Colorado

Colorado has a lot of beautiful scenery from the mountains, scenic backcountry, lakes, and rivers. You can explore everything Colorado has to offer in multiple ways. From hiking up mountains, taking a long drive on our backcountry roads, fishing in the many lakes, or rafting down our rivers. If water is your preference of taking in Colorado’s beauty, here is a list of the 10 Most Scenic Rivers.

1. Animas River

Photo Courtesy of “adifferentbrian”

Located in Durango, CO the Animas River is 126 miles long and a tributary of the San Juan River. It is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and follows along the Durango and Silverton railroad through a canyon and goes all the way to New Mexico. Some wildlife that inhabit the Animas are bald eagles throughout the winter months. Popular times to visit this river will be in the summer for white water rafting and fishing.

2. Arkansas River

Photo Courtesy of Scrubhiker

The 6th longest river in the US at 1,469 miles long, the Arkansas River starting in the Rocky Mountains by Leadville, CO. It flows through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The Arkansas River is home to a National Monument called Brown’s Canyon. It is over 20,000 acres of canyons, rivers, and forest. Browns Canyon goes through Buena Vista and Salida located in southern Colorado. This is also one of the most popular white water rafting areas in the United States with their peak season during June through August.

3. Cache La Poudre River

Cache La Poudre

Located near Fort Collins, CO and the Rocky Mountain National Park. 76 miles of this river is designated as “Wild and Scenic”. The Cache La Poudre is known for its very popular fly fishing attraction. This river has a big abundance for trout and attracts people all over to come fish these waters. 30 miles are now classified as scenic and the other 46 are for recreational uses. Besides fly fishing, white water rafting is also popular as this river is the closest one to Rocky Mountain National Park for tourists to check out when visiting.

4. Colorado River


Colorado River

Starting in the one and only Colorado at the Rocky Mountains is the Colorado River. It is 1,450 miles long and flows through seven different states. It is one of the most known rivers in the west, which goes through multiple iconic landscapes and 11 national parks, including the Grand Canyon. It supplies water for over 40 million people in America. The Colorado River remains popular all year long because of the many attractions surrounding it.

5. Yampa River

Photo Courtesy of Chris M Morris

A 250 mile long river that is one of the only free-flowing rivers with little to no dams. It passes through Steamboat Springs, CO a popular ski resort town. The Yampa is home to a lot of native fish which have disappeared from other dammed rivers in Colorado. White water rafting and fishing are popular activities for this scenic river.

6. Eagle River

Photo Courtesty of Jeff Dzadon

Only 60 miles long located near Vail, CO., Eagle River is a smaller but still beautiful stretch of water to see. It is more peaceful option with great fly fishing. The Eagle river is open to visit all year long with rafting in the mid summer and checking out the surrounding areas like Vail for summertime hikes.

7. Clear Creek River

Clear Creek Whitewater Rafting

A tributary of the South Platte River, that flows 66 miles long near the popular tourist city Denver, CO. This river is known for it’s location for one of the most intense mining during the Colorado Gold Rush in 1859. This river runs by the town of Idaho Springs, a frequent stop for visiters that is a little mining town. Clear creek is home to some great and close by white water rafting around the Denver area.

8. Dolores River

Photo Courtesy of “BeerAndLoathing”

About 241 miles long this river runs through Colorado and Utah. Located near the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. Surrounded by deserts and forests and canyon the Dolores has an old western feel to it. It attracts a lot of white water rafting for all levels. The Dolores River depends highly on the snowmelt so the best time to visit this river would be early summer to take advantage of the high waters.

9. South Platte River

A big part of the midwest US, the South Platte River runs through Colorado and Nebraska. Formed around Fairplay, CO this river to known to many fly-fishing experts. Water flow from the Continental Divide collect at the start of the river that is surrounded by high grasslands making it a great spot for fishing year-round. Even throughout the winter South Platte is popular among many fisherman for some quality fish.

10. Gunnison River

Photo Courtesy of DVS

Located in Gunnison, CO it’s one of major tributaries of the Colorado River spanning 164 miles long. This river has reservoirs that are apart of the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. Black Canyon is one of largest, narrowest, and deepest gorges in the world. Most of this river is pretty intense to navigate and is for experienced rafters only. Gunnison River is Colorado’s second largest river still has a lot more to offer aside from rafting. It has plenty wildlife from elk to bighorn sheep and great fly fishing.

Learn more about some of these rivers and others!