No matter the season, Colorado’s West Slope is internationally recognized as a recreational mecca, with nearly every genre of world-class adventure reliant on water.

Summer flows on the Colorado River and its tributaries draw kayakers, whitewater rafters, and flyfishers. Man-made reservoirs also offer recreational opportunities like watercraft sports, fishing, and swimming. Managed releases of water from Colorado’s 2,000 reservoir dams create ideal trout habitat in over 9,000 miles of streams. In fact, most of the Western Slope’s Gold Medal trout streams are located just below reservoirs.

Snowfall in the winter months bring skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country enthusiasts to our famous ski slopes and backcountry wilderness.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry accounts for $9.6 billion in value-added (GDP) annually and contributed 120,000 direct jobs in 2020. Colorado’s outdoor economy also contributes to a high quality of life, enhancing the physical, mental, and emotional vitality of our Colorado communities. As snowpack and streamflow diminish, these economic and health benefits are put at risk.


Instream Flows

The Colorado River District recognizes and supports the environmental and human benefits of flowing rivers and streams. The values and benefits of instream flows, however, must be balanced with the need for consumptive water uses in an arid West.

Recreational Water Use

The Colorado River District supports recreational water uses and the water rights that confirm recreational water uses that balance recreational needs with historical and future consumptive water uses, including water use by exchange and that do not adversely impact the ability to fully develop for beneficial use Colorado’s entitlements under the Compacts of 1922 and 1948 within the River District.

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