Many visitors associate the mountains with snow activities, like skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and more. It’s true — Telluride transforms into a winter wonderland each fall through the spring with ample snowfall for all of your favorite snow activities.


However, the mountains drastically change during the summer, and the melted snow reveals hidden crystal lakes, bustling rivers and streams, endless wildflower meadows, and so much more.


The mountains truly come to life in the summer and there are so many opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors! Paddleboarding and kayaking, in particular, are popular ways to get out soak up the sparking mountain sun.


Check out Telluride’s hottest new water activities in our free guide below!


Telluride Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals


There are plenty of options for renting kayaks and paddleboards in Telluride, but only a few are well-known as top contenders within the community. Trust the experts—here are our top recommendations:

Telluride Outside

121 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435 | (800) 831-6230

Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Daily


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A full-service outdoor recreation company, Telluride Outside is your one-stop-shop for gear rental. The impressive inventory includes off-road vehicle rentals, fly fishing and river rafting tours, snowmobile rentals, and SUP and kayak rentals and tours. Rentals start at $55 per day or $300 per week. Guided tours are available for $130 per person and include everything you’ll need for a an exciting 4-hour trip. Advance reservations are recommended.

Mountain Adventure Equipment

560 Mountain Village Blvd Ste 101, Mountain Village, CO 81435 | (970) 614-1000

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Daily


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Located in the heart of the mountain village, Mountain Adventure Equipment is a quick and convenient option for paddleboard and kayak rentals. Mountain Adventure specializes in inflatable Sol Paddle Board rentals and offers a full-delivery service for added convenience. Rentals start at only $49 per day, and reservations are highly recommended.

Bootdoctor & Paragon Outdoors

236 S Oak St, Telluride, CO 81435 | (970) 728-4581

Hours: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Seasonal


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Paragon Outdoors offers everything you could ever need for safe and fun equipment rentals. This full-service retails and rental companies offers SUP, river tube, and kayak rentals, all of which are inflatable and easily transportable. All rentals include a PFD, paddle, and pump for convenience. The shop also offers plenty of accessories or last-minute items to make the most of your water adventure.


Top Spots For Kayaking and Paddleboarding Near Telluride

Are you looking for the best spots near Telluride for kayaking and paddleboarding? Most rental companies will have great recommendations or preferred spots for their tours, but if you’re seeking a few spots to get you started, here are a few of our favorites:

San Miguel River

Travel Time: N/A


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The famous San Miguel River flows directly through the town of Telluride and offers endless exploration opportunities. The main river features intermediate speed and obstacles best suited for experienced riders—but don’t fret if you’re a beginner. The river also provides several smaller streams and lakes the offer a more placid environment for learning the ropes, and there are several other great local spots with tranquil water for a relaxing excursion. If you are looking for adventure though, the main river is where you want to be. Many spots are rated class II and class III for kayaking, and the river can easily be explored solo or via a guided trip.


Down Valley Park

Travel Time: 20 Minutes


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Located just outside of Telluride, Down Valley Park is home to baseball and soccer fields, a playground, a picnic area, and a large pond that is perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding. The pond is an offshoot of the nearby San Miguel River but provides a calmer and more relaxing experience. The proximity to Telluride and plethora of activities makes Down Valley Park a great destination for families and groups.


Alta Lakes

Travel Time: 25 minutes


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Situated high in the San Miguel Mountains, Alta Lakes is a true destination for visitors seeking a one-of-a-kind kayaking or paddle boarding experience. The calm waters and picturesque scenery provided by the three sister lakes can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Alta Lakes is less than thirty minutes from downtown Telluride and is well worth the effort; the crystal blue water, stunning scenery, and placid water make it a great destination for explorers of any level. While you’re there, explore some of the nearby hiking trails or enjoy a waterside picnic and take in the stunning mountain views! 

Trout Lake

Travel Time: 30 minutes


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Another great hidden mountain gem, Trout Lake is a popular destination for mountain adventurers. This deep blue lake features a stunning mountain backdrop and easy access to nearby hiking and biking trails, making it a great spot for multiple activities. And, as the name suggests, Trout Lake is a hotspot for natural mountain trout. Try your hand at kayak fishing or try your luck from the shore. Trout Lake is rated as an easy spot for water activities.


These are just a few of our favorite local spots for water adventures, be sure to check out our post on lakes near Telluride for more great locations.


Kayaking and Paddleboarding FAQs

Are you new to watersports and not sure if it’s for you? Rest assured that kayaking and paddleboarding are easy to pick up and quite affordable. If you have a specific question, check out our FAQ list below!

Is experience required?

No, paddleboarding and kayaking do not require any experience! Keep in mind that a basic level of physical fitness is required, and both activities require a small degree of balance and coordination; however, most guests find the activities quite easy to learn in a short amount of time.

Which activity is best for me—kayaking or paddleboarding?

It’s hard to judge which activity is ‘easier’ or best for any one person. Kayaking is done sitting down and requires a bit more upper body coordination, while paddleboarding is done standing and takes a bit more balance and coordination. The best way to decide which one is right for you is to try each and figure out which one is a better fit. You may want to make sure you know the popular terminology that your kayaking or paddleboarding instructors will use however!

What should I wear?

There are no strict requirements for kayaking or paddleboarding. In general, wear something comfortable and something you don’t mind getting wet. Bathing suits are welcomed in the summer, as are water-resistant outerwear and shoes. Other items to consider include a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and sunglasses.

Do I need to know how to swim?

Yes, basic swimming ability is highly recommended for any water activity.

Do I need to wear a life jacket?

Life jackets are not legally required but are recommended for water activities.

How much does kayaking/paddleboarding cost?

Paddleboarding and kayaking are quite affordable. Though pricing will vary based on who you work with, rentals typically start at $35-$50 per day and guided tours typically cost $125 – $150 per person and includes everything you need for the trip.

Looking for more mountain vacation ideas? Visit our full Telluride ‘things to do’ guide for more inspiration and start planning your perfect getaway!