Guide to Grand County's Rivers

A river surrounded by trees in the fall.

Situated on the western side of the Continental Divide, Grand County is naturally the starting point to several iconic Western rivers. In fact, the most famous western river of all — The Colorado — starts its journey here in the upper reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park.

While our lakes and reservoirs serve up enough recreational options to keep any summertime vacation busy, our rivers are just as enticing. Here's a quick guide to our four major rivers and how to enjoy them:

Colorado River

Where to view wildlife: Kawuneeche Valley, Rocky Mountain National Park
Where to fish: Public water access between Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling
Where to raft: Gore Canyon

Long before it carves the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the mighty Colorado River begins humbly near Grand Lake. In fact, this early stretch through the Kawuneeche Valley offers some of Colorado's best habitat for moose. Below Lake Granby, the river picks up steam and transforms into the lumbering canyon carver we know and love. As it exits the county downstream of Kremmling, it creates one of the best spots for whitewater rafting in the country: Gore Canyon.

Fraser River

Best enjoyed: On a bicycle along the bike path between Winter Park and Fraser
Where to fish: Public water access between Winter Park and Berthoud Pass, or off the bike path

The first of the Colorado River's many tributaries, the Fraser is a quiet river with a lot of subtlety. For much of its length — running from Berthoud Pass to Windy Gap Reservoir — it pursues a twisting course through meadows and willows. For fly fisherman, it is pure nirvana. Rainbows, browns and cutthroats can all be caught on public land upstream of Fraser.

Williams Fork River

Where to fish: Tailwater below Williams Fork Reservoir.

The Williams Fork is perhaps the least well-known of Grand County's rivers — and fishermen would like to keep it that way. Originating on the western flanks of the Vasquez Peak Wilderness, the Williams Fork is a mere mountain stream for much of its length, and as a result, recreation is mostly limited to catching trout — really large trout, especially in the tailwater below the dam at Williams Fork Reservoir. Even if you're not keen on angling, take a scenic drive up into this wild and often overlooked valley above Parshall. It's scenic and wonderfully quiet.

Blue River

Best enjoyed: On a scenic drive along Highway 9 between Kremmling and Green Mountain Reservoir

The Blue River is easily a candidate for Colorado's most scenic river. Lined by cottonwood trees and crowned by the rugged Gore Mountains, the Blue River winds a scenic course through ranch land, and its public access points are popular among anglers. However, those public access points are very limited in certain spots due to private land restrictions. The stretch of river in Grand County is floatable, but is technical and not serviced by commercial outfitters. Still, none of this can take away from the scenic beauty of the river, especially at the tailwater below Green Mountain Reservoir.

View The Rivers of Grand County in a larger map.

For more information about how to enjoy the water in Grand County, view the full water overview.