When is the best time to Kayak on Lake Dillon?
By Kyle McKenzie | Apr 08, 2020 | Dillon Reservoir
Simply put, the best time to kayak on Lake Dillon is in the morning. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Why is this the case? There are three major factors to think about when kayaking on Lake Dillon – wind, thunderstorms and traffic.
All three factors almost always have little to no effect on kayaking the Dillon Reservoir in the morning but come in the later hours of the day. This is why we have always been hesitant to offer a 12 pm or 2 pm kayak tour on Lake Dillon months in advance. There is at least a 30% chance that we will be refunding you for your afternoon tour due to these factors, or at the very least you missed out on the better kayak tour in the morning.
This year, we are now offering an early bird kayak tour that departs from the marina at 8 AM – the very best time to kayak on Lake Dillon. The Early Bird kayak tour is the same award-winning, 2.5-hour Island Kayak Tour route we have offered for the past 10 years but better. If you still are not convinced you should book our early bird kayak tour, how about a discount? Our Early Bird 2.5 Hour Island Tour is 10% cheaper than all other Island Tours. Most often the best kayak tour is more expensive, but this is a supply and demand discount. Almost all visitors to Summit County are capable of making it to our 9 am kayak tour and that kayak tour sells out often but not as many are willing to wake up early to do our 8 am kayak tour. Trust me, you will not regret kayaking with us at 8 am!
Wind and Kayaking Dillon Reservoir
99 out of 100 days in the mountains of Colorado, the mornings will have calmer winds. The reason for this is, as the sun rises it heats up the air at the earth’s surface, as this air heats, it starts to rise giving room for the higher winds in the atmosphere to fill this void at the earth’s surface. It is always windy high up in the atmosphere and when there is room down low it will blow. So, with only this one constant in mind – it is always best to launch your kayak on the Dillon Reservoir at least by 9 am and try to be off the water by 12 pm.
The number one question from our guests about kayaking early is – will it be too cold to kayak early in the morning? It is somewhat counter-intuitive but kayaking at 50 degrees with zero wind and waves is much warmer than kayaking at 70 degrees with 15 mile an hour winds and waves. Plus, kayaking with zero wind at 8 or 9 am is much more enjoyable! This is why we offer discounts for our 8 am Early Riser kayak tour to encourage all of our potential kayakers to join us at 8 am.
We also provide our kayakers with splash tops to keep you dry, spray skirts that keep the water out of the kayak and we utilize the sit inside style sea kayaks, designed for colder waters and temperatures. Kayaking gloves are also available year-round but are usually only needed in mid-May and late September. Our kayakers on Dillon are also required to wear our provided life jackets that provide insulation as well.
Thunderstorms on Dillon Reservoir
If you have spent any time hiking, biking or fishing in Colorado then you have probably come close to a lightning strike. Many times I have been fly fishing with no rain in sight and bam, lightning!
Colorado’s dry air during thunderstorms in the afternoons tend to trick kayakers since the rain often evaporates before hitting the ground, giving you a false sense of safety. You need moisture in the air to cause a lightning strike. In other parts of the country, you tend to go inside long before the thunderstorms hit because you’ve been getting rained on for the last 10 minutes. That is often not the case in Colorado. Usually, sometime in late June we really start to see our monsoon season pick up and almost half of our afternoons on Dillon Reservoir will see thunderstorms. These thunderstorms may only last minutes, they will roll in fast and furious and then the rest of the day is perfect. However, those 5 to 10 minutes kayaking on Lake Dillon during an afternoon thunderstorm can ruin your vacation and even your life!
This high chance of afternoon thunderstorms is the number one driver of why we try our hardest to encourage all kayakers on lake Dillon to book our guided kayak tours as early in the morning as possible.
Boater Traffic on Lake Dillon
It is not guaranteed that there will be high winds or thunderstorms on Dillon Reservoir in the afternoon and we sometimes have great kayak tours at 12 pm. However, I can guarantee that on that bluebird, zero wind day the afternoon will be busy on the water!
It is always amazing the response we see from our kayakers at 8 or 9 am vs. our kayakers at 12 pm on the exact same kayak tour on the same day. The parking lot at the Frisco Bay Marina will always have plenty of parking at 8 am, even on Saturdays but if you try to find parking at 12 pm, you better arrive 30 minutes early and expect to park 10 minutes away from Dillon Reservoir.
Not only is it easier to park close to Dillon Reservoir it is a much more relaxing eco-tour, kayak experience early in the morning. If you are kayaking at 8 am on Dillon you can expect to see zero boat rentals, more wildlife and possibly other kayakers. I always joke with our kayakers returning at 11:30 to the Frisco Bay Marina and say, “look, this is the only kind of rush hour I can handle”.
Book An Early Bird Kayak Tour on Lake Dillon With Adventure Paddle Tours
In closing, there is no question that kayaking on Dillon Reservoir is best early in the morning. This is why the popular rowing club out of the Frisco Bay Marina is often leaving Dillon Reservoir when we are first launching. If I felt we could book enough guests at 7 am we would do it! Again, there are fewer boaters, less wind and almost zero chance of thunderstorms at 8 am on Dillon Reservoir. If you are kayaking on your own or thinking of booking a guided kayak tour with us please consider launching first thing in the morning and taking advantage of our early bird kayak tour deal!