Dillon Reservoir (or Lake Dillon as some people say) is the largest part of the Denver water system in Colorado. It features plenty of lakeside camping, as well as the towns of Frisco and Dillon on the water’s edge for a more civilized experience if desired. Both towns are pretty touristy, and seemed to be following in the footsteps of nearby Breckenridge – pricey, but enjoyable, and not as crowded as Breckenridge. Restaurants in both were great (but again, pricey). Kayak rentals, and even guided tours, are available in nearby Frisco from KayakLakeDillon.
We camped at Heaton Bay, which would normally offer easy access to the water, but with the lower water levels in August, we ended up driving the kayak to the nearby Giberson Bay day use area to put in instead (if you’re camping, there’s no fee to park there). If planning a trip, you can find the current water levels here.
This area has been hit hard by pine beetles, so we were a bit concerned about how the scenery would be, but were pleasantly surprised. While evidence of the beetles’ destruction surrounded you, the area still maintained a great sense of beauty and we didn’t really notice all the dead trees unless we were looking for them. One unexpected benefit, though, was that the campground host actually encouraged us to go collect firewood, pretty unusual from our experience. In the campground and day use areas, dead trees have been removed, but the smaller trees, and branches, have been left on the ground making for abundant firewood opportunities.
The reservoir itself was as expected – big! And windy in the afternoons, but no surprise as this is a popular sailing destination. Sticking around the west shore though, the wind wasn’t much of a problem at all.
If you check out this area on Google Maps, you’ll get a good sense of the number of islands there are to explore…but the jewel is the large one in the middle, with a nice cove accessible to shallow draft boats only. Well, when the reservoir is full, that is. It was around ten feet down from full when we visited, and the cove was landlocked and not visible from the reservoir. A short portage, though, and we were able to enjoy this landlocked cove all to ourselves, much to the chagrin of the abundant wildlife taking refuge there. We were greeted by two great blue herons, a flock of canadian geese, and an adult AND baby river otter! It was well worth the very short hike to get there.
All in all, Dillon Reservoir was a great place and is our current favorite Colorado Kayaking Destination!