Fall Paddle Boarding: Willow Creek Reservoir

Standup Paddle Boarding on the Willow Creek Reservoir
Willow Creek Reservoir, Colorado

To begin, let me say that standup paddle boarding is my (Stella’s) thing x 100, and my fervor for it has far surpassed my love of kayaking. In May of this year, Larry and I had purchased our first boards from Isle Surf & SUP (the 9’10 and 10’10 Glider Wood). And from the first moment that I stood atop that smooth board, a love for the sport swelled within me. Within a few short months, I had transitioned from a beginner to an intermediate standup paddler. I taught myself how to become one with the water by learning how to move with the water and absorb the energy of it. I would paddle board all day, every day in the summer and fall if I could. 

Saturday, September 28th was a bittersweet one for Larry and I. We had spent the afternoon paddle boarding around the Willow Creek Reservoir, which was amazingly perfect. However, that was also our last weekend at Base Camp @ Grand Lake for the year, and likely our last paddle boarding trek of the year as well. That day, Larry did not want to go paddle boarding for some unknown reason. But the sun was warm, the leaves on the Aspen trees were at their autumn peak and there was no wind, so I had pretty much coerced him to go with me. 

We had started out paddling east toward the the dam. The water had receded slightly along the shoreline since our last paddle on Willow Creek, so we had to watch the depth carefully and paddle a touch further from shore than previously. Once we had made it to the dam, Larry suddenly exclaimed, “this is awesome!” I was a bit startled by that, but he soon admitted that he was glad that he came and was enjoying himself. How could he not? The weather was perfect, and the splendor of all the painted leaves was such a sight to behold.

Having passed the buoys that are out in front of the dam, we turned around and paddled west along the north side of the shore. The landscape on the north side is pretty much comprised of all sage scrub bushes; very dry and desert-looking. On the north side of the Willow Creek Reservoir, there are several inlets/coves that you can paddle into and look about. It is not uncommon to find large, American White Pelicans in those areas. When paddle boarding there, you have to be very mindful of large boulders hiding under the water, just out from the shore. It looks as if the boulders are further beneath the surface than they actually are, which in turn, could damage the fin of your board.

Once we had reached the west end of the reservoir, we crossed over to the southern shore to head east and back to our launch site. On the south side of the shore, it is all forested land with secluded fishing spots and a campground. If you look up above the pine trees, you will see magnificent homes nestled within the Aspen trees. It was a wonderful fall paddle! The total trek around the Willow Creek Reservoir was 5.2 miles.

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