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7 Ways to Enjoy Water Sports in Western Colorado’s Frontier Country this Summer
Sophie Goodman,
The six towns that dot the west end of San Miguel and Montrose Counties — Norwood, Naturita, Nucla, Bedrock, Paradox and Gateway — were all founded at the turn of the 20th century, and today are hubs for outdoor recreation, ranching and alpine adventure. These unique communities in western Colorado are deceptively dry red rock mesas and gnarled pinyon and juniper pines sit in the foreground while the high peaks of the surrounding mountains sit just beyond reach on the horizon. But take a closer look, and you’ll find a landscape teeming with aquatic life and opportunities for summer water sports fun. In addition to the lakes and reservoirs in the region, the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers hit their stride at the beginning of the summer when the runoff from the high alpine snowmelt is at its peak.

Whether you’re an angler or an expert kayaker, whether you’re a visitor looking to spend a day experiencing some of the most scenic whitewater rafting in Colorado, or just looking for a beautiful place to picnic and enjoy the outdoors, there’s truly something for every water sports enthusiast in this special corner of the Centennial State. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spots for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and more, so you can make the most of your next trip to western Colorado’s frontier country this summer.