As Covid-19 restrictions have continued to wreak havoc on travel plans, we’re finding fun and creative ways to explore our home waters right here in Colorado. One of the best ways to do that is on a multi-day road trip.
Some of the best fly fishing waters in Colorado are clustered together in different parts of the state and connected by beautiful mountain passes, creating perfect road trip opportunities. Over several days of fishing, it’s possible to hit half a dozen or more of the state’s best rivers and lakes.
When you consider the rivers, creeks and lakes throughout Colorado, the combinations are nearly endless. Below are 3 examples of some great Colorado Fly Fishing road trips. Far from an exhaustive guide, use these as inspiration to plan your own route. You might include some of your favorite waters – but be sure and try something new!
Exploring fishing opportunities by car is all about the in between. Take the time to stop at the section of creek or small lake you have driven by 100 times on your way to a bigger river. First make sure its public, then fish it! Often these drive by gems hold some great surprises.
Load up the fishing gear, camping gear and plenty of snacks – plan your own Colorado fly fishing road trip this summer!
1. Northern Colorado Route
A loop through northern Colorado can connect anglers with some outstanding fishing opportunities and great stops along the way. Here are a few fisheries you might want to include:
From Fort Collins, take Highway 14 up the Cache La Poudre River canyon. This scenic canyon is home to some great fishing opportunities. You might want to make a stop at the Gateway Natural Area to fish the North Fork of the Poudre, before moving along up the main canyon.
When you reach Cameron Pass, take some time to explore one (or a few) of the many lakes and smaller creeks like Chambers Lake, Joe Wright Reservoir and the upper Laramie River.
Continue on Highway 14 through Walden and on to Delaney Butte Lakes. These lakes offer excellent stillwater fly fishing. From there, you could easily continue further west to fish the Yampa and White River drainages. But assuming you don’t have endless vacation time, you might leave Delaney and head south on Highway 125 from Walden toward Grandby.
Here, take some time to explore the upper Colorado. Next, take the scenic route over Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park and explore some of the Park’s wonderful lakes and small streams. On your way back to the start of our northern Colorado road trip, check out the Big Thompson River.
2. Central Colorado Route
Central Colorado has so much fly fishing opportunity, it’s difficult to narrow down a route. Knowing that we’re not even going to scratch the surface, here are a few ideas to get you started:
From Denver, you can fish your way up Clear Creek, nearly to the Eisenhower tunnel. As you drop over into Summit County, you could explore the Blue River and Tenmile Creek, both worth a visit. Further west as you reach the Vail Valley, the Eagle River and it’s tributaries offer a ton of great fishing.
Next, continue west toward Glenwood Springs and then turn south on Highway 82 toward aspen. Here, you can fish the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers. And from Carbondale, a side trip down Highway 133 to fish the Crystal River is worth a detour.
From Aspen, you might continue on Highway 82 over Independence Pass to Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes, the upper Arkansas River and the Lake Fork of the Arkansas are all noteworthy stops. From there, highway 24 Connects to 285 near Buena Vista. You could then fish any of the South Park reservoirs, rivers and creeks on your way back to town to complete this central Colorado road trip.
3. Southern Colorado Route
As with each of the first two road trip outlines, southern Colorado offers a world of fly fishing opportunities. Knowing we can’t hit them all, here are a few stops we might visit along the way.
If you started your road trip at Pueblo Reservoir, you could enjoy some outstanding warm water fly fishing. From there, Highway 50 follows the Arkansas River through Canyon City and up to Salida.
After you have some fun on the Ark, continue west over Monarch Pass toward Gunnison. Take some time to fish the Gunnison River, Tomichi Creek, and maybe even a trip just north of Gunnison to the Taylor River.
From Gunnison, you might take Highway 149 south to the Lake Fork of the Gunnison. And continuing on 149 beyond Lake City, you’ll eventually reach the Rio Grande Valley. Take plenty of time to explore the Rio Grande and the many smaller streams along that drainage.
From the town of South Fork along the Rio Grande, you could continue east back toward the Front Range and complete your road trip. Alternatively, you could go south on Highway 160 along the South Fork of the Rio Grande and eventually find yourself in Pagosa Springs to fish the San Juan River.
Plan Your Summer Road Trip
Need help? We’d love to help you prepare for an epic summer fly fishing road trip. We can provide fly patterns for the river or drainage of your choice. Check out the Fly Assortments on our website. Alternatively, stop by the fly shop in Littleton or give us a call at 303-794-1104 and we’ll put together a custom assortment for your destination.
We’re offering free shipping on all online orders and curbside pick up is also available here at the shop.