Cat’s Eye

Mesa Verde Country’s Open Season on Summer Water Sports

June 9, 2016
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Mesa Verde Country has announced its complete list of summer adventure on the water.

From small mountain streams to the second-largest lake in Colorado, visitors to Mesa Verde Country can water recreate in the form of boating, fishing, rafting, swimming and more.

The largest lake in the San Juan National Forest and the second largest in all of Colorado, the best way to experience the entirety of the McPhee Reservoir is by boat. With 50 miles of shoreline featuring campgrounds, and picnic and recreation areas, fun can also be found on dry land around McPhee Reservoir. For panoramic views of the water, visitors can hike the trail connecting the campgrounds to Ridge Point Overlook – a great perch for spotting bald eagles, blue heron and ospreys.

Free from crowds, McPhee Reservoir offers water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking and paddle boarding on serene waters. The reservoir has a six-lane boat ramp, two boat docks and access to drinking water. McPhee Boat Rentals provides offsite tiller and pontoon boats.

The recently opened Doc’s Marina, located next to the reservoir boat ramp, rents pontoon, fishing and ski boats, as well as paddleboards and kayaks. Doc’s Marina also supplies anglers on the reservoir with fishing poles, worms, tackle and ice. Referred to as “the best fishing spot in the San Juan Basin” by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, fishing on McPhee Lake does not disappoint. Catches include rainbow trout, Kokanee salmon, bass and pan fish.

Spin and fly-fishers visiting Mesa Verde Country can travel in any direction to find fabulous fishing in secluded streams or wide open waters. Mesa Verde Country east of McPhee provides a dozen more creeks, rivers and reservoirs for snagging brook, brown and cutthroat trout, walleye, catfish and pike. The Mesa Verde Country Fishing Guide provides maps, directions and more information on fishing licenses and regulations.

Flowing from the San Juan Mountains through the town of Dolores and into McPhee Lake, the Dolores River offers a pristine stretch of tame and wild waters for Gold Medal fishing as well as boating, rafting, tubing and kayaking. Upstream of the town, the river attracts low-water tubing, while the well-known Stampede Hole and Ledges near the community of Stoner serve up some whitewater excitement. Remote waters and demanding rapids lie in the lower canyons where experienced rafters play. Local river outfitters provide single or multi-day adventures.

For an easy and relaxing way to get wet, the rec center in Cortez offers a 50-meter outdoor pool with a 125-foot double loop water slide, a splash pad with spray jets and other play features such as a 60-gallon dumping bucket. Parque de Vida next door also has a pond for low-key fishing and duck feeding.

To learn more about these water activities and planning a trip to Mesa Verde Country, visit

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