What to Know About Dillon Reservoir Before You Go

Want to visit Dillon Reservoir? This large freshwater reservoir in Summit County, Colorado, also sometimes known as Lake Dillon, is just outside of Denver. The reservoir itself is owned and operated by Denver water, and serves as a popular recreation area.

Dillion Reservoir is perfect for day trips to escape the heat of Denver in the summer and enjoy a fun-filled time outdoors. If you want to visit and want to learn more about Dillion Reservoir, find out the things you need to know about the Dillon Reservoir before you go!

Where is Dillon Reservoir?

Dillon Reservoir is located between Frisco and Dillon in Summit County, CO. It?s 70 miles from downtown Denver, 9 miles from Breckenridge, and 28 miles from Vail. All in all, it?s about an hour?s drive from Denver.

It?s encircled by the Swan Mountain and the Gore and Ten Mile Mountain ranges. The Reservoir covers 3,300 acres with 25 miles of pine-forested shoreline. This makes it a perfect location to experience nature just outside of the city and enjoy both the water and the mountains!

What is the History of Dillon Reservoir?

Dillon Reservoir is owned & operated by the Denver Water Board, and it is the largest water storage facility for the organization.

The Dillon Dam was built between 1961 and 1963, with the reservoir being filled with water for the first time in 1964.

Water is diverted from the Blue River Basin through the Harold D. Roberts Tunnel under the Continental Divide into the South Platte River Basin and Denver?s storage facilities on the Front Range.

What Is There to Do at Dillon Reservoir?

The recreational facilities at Dillon Reservoir include:

  • Two full-service marinas ? Dillon and Frisco Bay
  • Two boat launching sites
  • National forest campgrounds for R.V. and tent camping

Boating and fishing are two of the most popular activities on Dillon Reservoir, but there?s a lot more to explore. There are 325 campsites for camping, 12 miles of paved trails within the Dillon Recreation Area for hiking or bicycling, and designated areas for waterfowl hunting.

What Are Some Rules & Regulations at Dillon Reservoir?

There are a few rules and regulations for everyone to follow at Dillon Reservoir for personal safety and to protect the area. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • There is a 30-mph speed limit for all boat vessels traveling on the water
  • Wakeboarding, waterskiing, paraskiing, paragliding, and parasailing are prohibited
  • Campfires are only allowed to campsite locations where fireplace grills and fire rings have been provided
  • Is Dillon Reservoir dog friendly? Pets are allowed, but must be kept on a leash and cleaned up after.
  • Due to cold temperatures, wading and swimming in the water is prohibited

The Summit County Sherriff?s Department patrols the water surface and campgrounds to enforce these rules and ensure the safety of all those who visit Dillon Reservoir.

What?s the Best Way to See Dillon Reservoir?

Adventure Paddle Tours offers guided kayak tours out of the Frisco Bay Marina on the Dillon Reservoir.

Our expert guides can help you navigate through the waters and see the mountains, wildlife, and experience the beautiful scenery the area has to offer. Our tours are true eco tours that are rooted in conservation, designed for small groups to give you that intimate nature experience.

We have a range of tours available to suit your groups needs! Click here to take a look at our guided kayak tours offered in the Dillon Reservoir and book with us today.

When is the best time to Kayak on Lake Dillon?

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!

Things to Do One Hour Outside of Denver, CO

If you?re a Denver local, there?s plenty of things to do in town, but there are also a lot of awesome activities outside of it.

From stunning mountain views to exciting events, Colorado has a lot to offer, and Denver is a perfect central hub for many of these locations.

If you?re looking to get out of the city this summer and take a day trip somewhere new to find some hidden gems around Colorado, look no further than this post! Here?s a list of the top things to do 1 hour outside of Denver, CO.

White River National Forest

The White River National Forest is about an hour and 23-minute drive from Denver. The area spans about 2.3 million acres of land and spans several cities in Northwest Colorado ? so there?s no shortage of activities to enjoy in the most visited national forest.

You can pop into the Supervisor?s office in Glenwood Springs to get activity ideas and trail maps. There are 4 major reservoirs, 2,500 miles of trails, and 8 wilderness areas. Some popular destinations within the forest include the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, the 82-mile Flat Tops Scenic Byway, and the Crystal Mill near Marble, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain National Park is another extremely popular National Park about an hour and a half outside of Denver.

The area draws 4.5 million annual visitors and covers 415 miles of mountains which includes 355 miles of hiking trails, 147 lakes and 77 mountains taller than 12,000 feet.

It?s also a great spot for wildlife viewing ?you can see elk, bighorn sheep, moose, and birds. It?s also home to the historic village of Estes Park, which is a popular tourist destination.

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater

Just outside of Denver is Red Rocks Park, which is home to Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the most famous concert venues in the world that?s carved out of the park?s ochre sandstone.

Outside of the amphitheater, the park also has tons of beautiful trees, wildflowers, wildlife, and views for you to explore. There are hiking trails, mountain biking, and horseback riding, as well as several regular events like ?Yoga on the Rocks? or ?Film on the Rocks?.

Frisco, Colorado: Frisco Bay Marina & Lake Dillon

Frisco is a quintessential mountain town perched between the mountains and the lakes just an hour outside of Denver and is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or a day trip.

Frisco?s main street is home to locally owned shops and restaurants, and the Frisco Adventure Park offers a lift-assisted tubing hill, beginner ski ride and hill, and more. In the summer, the Adventure Park has a free skate park, bike park and disc-golf course.

The Frisco Bay Marina is the perfect spot to enjoy a Colorado summer with boat rentals, fishing, and paddle boarding.

The Frisco Bay Marina is home to Adventure Paddle Tours, which offers guided kayak tours on Lake Dillon through the Dillion Reservoir. These unique guided kayak tours allow you to see the abundant wildlife and breathtaking mountain views in the area. The small group tours are intimate, and you will be led by an expert kayak guide that has extensive knowledge of the local ecosystems and waterways.

Book A Guided Kayak Tour on Lake Dillon Today!

There are plenty of fun things to do around Colorado but taking a guided kayak tour on Lake Dillon in Frisco, CO is one of the best attractions the area has to offer.

If you are ready to get out of Denver and explore nature, book a guided kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours in Frisco.

Our tours vary from a 1.5 hour family tour, sunset tours, and pontoon-boat assisted afternoon tours. Find the best kayak tour for your group and book online today!