Top 8 Towns for a Colorado Fly Fishing Trip
For many anglers, Colorado is a top destination, offering an array of places suiting of a Colorado fly fishing trip. While it’s difficult to go wrong with many Colorado fly fishing trips, we created a list of towns to visit that are not only havens for fishing but also provide an array of activities, dining, and nightlife options to complement your fly fishing adventures.
1. Estes Park: Where the Rockies Embrace the Big Thompson
Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and our home. Being that we are based here, we’re a little biased about Estes Park fly fishing. But ask anyone who has gone fly fishing in Estes Park and they will say it is a bucket list experience for any angler.
It is a great hopping-off point for the great high alpine lakes and streams in Rocky Mountain National Park fly fishing. While the main attraction is the Big Thompson River which runs through town and originates from the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, it is these many small streams and alpine lakes that make this area truly unique. You could spend a lifetime here and not fish all the water available.
One of the few places in the country where you can catch all four of the major trout species in a single day and even at times in the same stream. Cutthroat, Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout a common throughout the area. Characterized by alpine backdrops, stunning lakes, and a wide variety of fishing options, Estes Park was made for wading anglers and is a prime location for a Colorado fishing trip.
Beyond fishing, explore the national park’s wonders, hike to stunning alpine lakes and mountain tops, or visit the famous Stanley Hotel. Estes Park’s downtown offers charming shops and a plethora of restaurants: foodies delight. Satisfy your palate at The Dunraven Inn, known for its Italian cuisine, or pop into Antonios for a slice of heaven.
2. Buena Vista: Where the Arkansas River Beckons
Known as the “Whitewater Capital of Colorado,” Buena Vista is a delightful blend of adventure and relaxation. The Upper Arkansas River is a haven for trout fishing, with opportunities to catch rainbow and brown trout. If you’re eager to explore more fishing locales, Clear Creek Reservoir and Cottonwood Lake provide diverse experiences.
Beyond fishing, you can explore the multitude of outdoor activities that Buena Vista offers. Hiking and mountain biking are popular pastimes, with trails for all skill levels. The rejuvenating hot springs are perfect for unwinding after a day of adventures. And don’t forget the area’s rich history with a visit to the Buena Vista Heritage Museum. When it’s time to dine, savor delicious cuisine at spots like the Evergreen Cafe, known for its hearty breakfast. After a long day on the water a stop at Louie’s Ice Cream Shop is a real treat. House Rock Kitchen offers delectable fusion cuisine that’s sure to delight your taste buds.
3. Salida: Riverside Bliss on a Colorado Fly Fishing Trip
Salida just downstream from the aforementioned Buena Vista, nestled along the Arkansas River. With trophy-sized brown and rainbow trout, it’s a dream destination for a Colorado fly fishing trip. Should you wish to explore more angling opportunities, the Arkansas River’s various sections offer a range of experiences.
The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is a must-visit for any fishing enthusiast. Besides fishing, the area is rich in outdoor activities. Hike and mountain bike the trails surrounding the town. Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting or kayaking on the Arkansas River. Afterward, explore Salida’s vibrant art scene, whether it’s a local gallery or an arts festival. When it’s time to dine, enjoy riverside dining at the Boathouse Cantina or savor Italian cuisine at Amica’s, a cozy Italian eatery.
4. Basalt: Where Crystal Waters Meet Gastronomic Delights
Nestled in the Roaring Fork Valley, Basalt is a mecca for fishing enthusiasts and foodies alike, making for the perfect Colorado fly fishing trip. The town’s proximity to the Frying Pan River, famous for its epic dry fly hatches for trophy brown and rainbow trout, makes it a hot spot for anglers. The crystalline waters and breathtaking scenery set the stage for unforgettable fishing adventures. The Roaring Fork is also a great place to spend the day. It often gets overlooked but the fly fishing on the Roaring Fork is second to none, Gray Drake hatches in midsummer are something to experience.
Beyond fishing, Basalt offers a variety of outdoor activities. Hike the Arbaney Kittle Trail for panoramic views of Mount Sopris or enjoy mountain biking on the nearby Rio Grande Trail. For a relaxed afternoon, explore the boutiques and art galleries in the downtown area. Satisfy your culinary cravings at local gems like Cafe Bernard, serving delectable French cuisine. Or dine at the Riverside Grill, where you can savor an array of dishes along the riverbank.
5. Gunnison: Home to the Gunnison Gold
Gunnison is synonymous with world-class fly fishing, thanks to the Gunnison River’s blue ribbon waters. Brown and rainbow trout thrive here, alongside breathtaking canyon views. When you’re ready to explore more fishing spots, Blue Mesa Reservoir and Taylor River beckon with their unique fishing experiences. Blue Mesa Reservoir boasts some of the best Lake Trout Fishing in Colorado, people come from all over the state to take a shot at a record book Laker. The Taylor River to the east of Gunnison is a great tailwater fishery that has some of the most colorful rainbow and brown trout you can find.
Off the river, explore the town’s cultural offerings, from art galleries to festivals. Should you have a taste for local brews, be sure to visit High Alpine Brewing Company. To satisfy your appetite, Garlic Mike’s is celebrated for its Italian cuisine and friendly atmosphere.
6. Steamboat Springs: Ski Town with Fishing Surprises
Steamboat Springs, famous for its skiing, also boasts fantastic opportunities along the Yampa River for the perfect Colorado fly fishing trip. In the winter months, a morning of skiing and an afternoon of fly fishing is a unique experience. Brown trout, rainbow trout and native mountain whitefish are abundant. If you’re interested in additional fishing experiences, the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir and Elk River provide diverse angling opportunities.
When not fishing, discover the town’s Western heritage through museums and cultural events. Enjoy a meal at local gems like Laundry, offering farm-to-table cuisine. For a more upscale dining experience, Aurum Food & Wine is the place to savor modern American dishes.
7. Telluride: Where the San Miguel Flows
Telluride, nestled in the San Juan Mountains, offers a unique fishing experience along the San Miguel River. Pristine waters and stunning surroundings make it a picturesque spot for fly fishing for trout. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are plentiful throughout this beautiful river. To explore more fishing opportunities, visit Miramonte Reservoir and Sunshine Mesa as well as many alpine lakes full of cutthroat and brook trout.
Beyond fishing, the outdoor activities in Telluride are seemingly endless. Hike through lush forests and alpine meadows or take a scenic gondola ride for breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. The town is known for it’s world class skiing as well as the winter ice climbing. Visit Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall. Stroll through the historic downtown with its unique boutiques and art galleries. Satisfy your taste buds at local eateries like Siam for delectable Thai cuisine or The National, known for its American fare. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or an avid angler, Telluride has something for everyone.
8. Durango: A Riverside Haven
Durango, nestled in the Animas River Valley, is celebrated for its fly fishing along the Animas River. Brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout abound. If you’re interested in additional Colorado fly fishing trip experiences, the high alpine lakes are full of native cutthroat. Vallecito Reservoir and Pine River offer opportunities to diversify your target. Durango is also known for its world-class Durango white water rafting and mountain biking. Their mountain biking trail system is second to none. For the multi-sport adventure, Durango is paradise for a Colorado fly fishing trip.
The town of Durango provides a blend of cultural experiences, from historic railways to museums. When it comes to dining, Eolus Bar & Dining serves modern American cuisine in an inviting atmosphere. For those in search of savory steaks and seafood, The Ore House is the town’s go-to spot.
Whichever fishing town you choose for your Colorado fly fishing trip, you’re in for an angling adventure like no other. From majestic rivers to serene alpine lakes, these towns promise not only an assortment of fish species but also breathtaking natural beauty and an array of activities to round out your trip. So, pack your fishing gear, secure your license, and embark on an unforgettable journey in Colorado’s best fly fishing towns.
Have more questions about planning a Colorado fly fishing trip? Give our Estes Park fly shop a call! Our Colorado fly fishing guides are happy to help with your trip planning and can point you in the right direction for fly fishing in Colorado.