Kayaking Lake Granby



Saturday, September 2nd. It was a good thing we started Saturday morning off with our world famous breakfast burritos, banana bread and espresso as we would need the fuel to complete the days adventure that lied ahead, kayaking Lake Granby to the headwaters of the Colorado River, another first adventure. After sneaking off to swim Aspen in Shadow Mountain Lake we head to Lake Granby, the weather was perfect with little to no wind and nary a cloud in the bright blue sky. What a great day to be on the water!

There are two options for launching your kayak into Lake Granby you can put in from either the Stillwater Campground Launch or the Sunset Point Campground Launch. However, let it be noted there are several more primitive options dotted along the shoreline for entry into the lake. Launching from Stillwater Campground makes the journey about two miles longer in distance however with its many islands and nearby shoreline provide greater protection if the weather were to change unexpectedly, which is very common on Lake Granby.

Once in the water we paddle directly toward the southern end of Elephant Island and onto the northern shore of Harvey Island. This is our first real foray into open water kayaking as we typically paddle near shore however with the weather conditions so favorable we make a go of it. From the northern shore of Harvey Island we begin turning our attention to the entrance of Grand Bay.

Entering Grand Bay you quickly notice the hillside to the west, Green Ridge, is mainly barren and covered with sagebrush however the eastern shore is tree covered and vibrant. Paddling north we reach Columbine Bay which becomes a no wake zone and much friendlier to those under human power.  Both shores of the water valley are now covered plentifully with trees as the bay narrows, we continue paddling north with the mountains resonating towards the heavens on either side of the shoreline. Journey’s end, we have gone as far a we are able to paddle reaching the headwaters of the Colorado River, now to be clear, this is the outflow from Shadow Mountain Lake as the true origin of the headwaters start deep inside Rocky Mountain National Park and flow into Shadow Mountain Lake. We sit for awhile observing the magic of nature as the river tumbles over a rocky riverbed into Columbine Bay.

Our voyage north from Grand Bay was breathtaking short of dodging the proverbial speed boat and other nefarious watercraft. Reversing course we begin our journey back to Harvey Island paddling south along the eastern shore which parallels the southern end of Rocky Mountain National Park. Unlike the western shoreline the eastern shore provides many more areas for one to spend time ashore while taking a break from a day on the water. One could, if they choose, hike from the East Shore Trailhead along the East Shore Trial until it intersects with the Knight Ridge Trail about midway in Grand Bay. Which if I could interject for a moment, Lake Granby would provide an ample opportunity for an overnight camping adventure.

Stillwater Campground to Arapaho Bay is about 15 to 20 miles and would simulate a kayak adventure Stella and I our planning to complete in the near future, the Palisades Reservoir on the Idaho/Wyoming border, a 4 day paddling excursion covering 70 miles. Where was I, paddling west and crossing the inlet to Grand Bay we find ourselves once again passing by the northern shore of Harvey Island with about 3 mile of paddling in front of us to make the the western shore of Lake Granby and our starting point Stillwater Campground. From start to finish we paddled 12.98 miles in 4h13m, another fantastic day on the water. Read about our most recent adventure kayaking Lake Granby, follow the link to Kayaking Lake Granby, Columbine Bay.


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