Go with the flow on one of America’s most iconic waterways. Running through five states, the Colorado River adapts dramatically with the varied terrain, giving campers an ample menu of adventures.

Colorado River Facts

  • The river runs 1,450 miles, from the Colorado Rockies to the Gulf of California in Mexico.
  • The hydroelectric dams on the Colorado River generate enough electricity to power 780,000 households per year.
  • The Colorado carved the Grand Canyon over a period of up to six million years.

Thrill-seeking rafters and kayakers can get an adrenaline boost in canyons that churn with whitewater. Boaters and anglers will find places where the river widens into sprawling lakes. Solitude seekers will discover long reaches that flow through desert landscapes untouched by human development.

You’ll find Good Sam Parks in all of the river’s diverse regions, from the wooded headwaters to the rugged desert environments around Lake Havasu RV Parks. Find your spot on the banks in one of the parks below and start your journey.

A fly fishing enthusiast wades into the Colorado Rier.

Fly Fishing in Granby. Photo: Taylor Grote.

Granby, Colorado

In the headwaters region, the Colorado River wastes no time in making things interesting for anglers and rafters. Lake Granby, about 90 miles northwest of Denver in the Rocky Mountains, is a great starting point for angling and boating adventures. Follow the river as it flows out of the lake and discover more fun as it continues to run southwest. Fly fishing enthusiasts will find several spots to snag fish in the current west of Byers Canyon. Hardcore rafters will find Class IV and V rapids in Gore Canyon farther to the west.

Stay: River Run, Granby. Enjoy luxurious amenities like Beach Entry Swimming Pool & Hot Tubs, Event Lawn & Amphitheater, Sport Court Complex, yurts for glamping and much more.

A red raft filled with paddles in rapids.

Rafting through Glenwood Canyon. Visit Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The Colorado River and Roaring Forks Rivers meet in Colorado, creating a river playground for rafters and kayakers, with several rapids. The Glenwood Whitewater Park is the first whitewater feature built on any stretch of the Colorado River and it continues to attract thrill-seekers. Check out the standing wave, also known as a G-wave. Depending on the time of year, the river’s flow can gush as fast as 22,000 cubic feet per second. Just two miles upstream, Glenwood Canyon entices rafters and kayakers with Class IV and V rapids.

Stay: Glenwood Canyon Resort, Glenwood Springs. Close to hiking and world-class skiing, this resort also sits near the Glenwood Canyon Bike Trail and is minutes to world-famous Hot Springs Pool.

River takes a bend amid bluffs and cliffs.

Grand Junction. Photo: Staple Gunther

Grand Junction, Colorado

The largest town on the western slope of Colorado sits at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. Hikers can hit the area’s surrounding trails for views of sandstone canyons and granite-gneiss-schist rock formations. If you prefer relaxed bodies of water to craggy rock faces, set out for the James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park, a string of stunning lakes situated along the banks of the Colorado River. Drop a line for bass or northern pike in this tranquil environment.

Stay: Junction West RV Park, Grand Junction. Roomy sites and area hiking make this a great park for long stays.

Greenish river flows through a landscape of bluffs and rock spires.

Colorado River flowing past Moab with Fisher Towers in the distance. Photo: Getty Images

Moab, Utah

The Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River is ideal for rafters seeking entry-level whitewater. Outfitters offer trips on Class I and Class II rapids, with views of the area’s namesake sandstone towers. For more challenging stuff, rafters can head downstream for the ominously named Cataract Canyon. Here, the river gains power from the confluence of the Green River, greeting rafters with churning Class III water. The surrounding scenery of mesas and cliffs enhances the experience.

Woman and girl rafters prepare to embark on the river

Preparing for a rafting trip on the Colorado River in Moab. Photo: Getty Images

Stay: Canyonlands Campground, Moab. This resort treats guests to amazing views of surrounding rock mesas and valleys. If river fun doesn’t excite you, you can set out on local trails or take advantage of the area’s endless mountain biking trails.

A dramatic bend in the river at sunset.

Sunset over Horseshoe Bend near Page. Photo: Tom Gainor

Page, Arizona

The Glen Canyon Dam forms Lake Powell, a 108,335-acre expanse of water with a coast that’s dotted by marinas. Located near Arizona’s northern border, Page is home to several access points for boating. If you haven’t brought your own watercraft, you can rent a vessel from one of the marinas. Houseboats are popular for long-term cruises, providing boaters with RV-like amenities. Page also attracts visitors for the nearby Horseshoe Bend, where the river follows a dramatic curve around steep rock. The bend is accessible via a 1.5-mile-round trip from a parking area off U.S. Route 89. It ranks as one of the most photographed attractions in Arizona.

Stay: Page Lake Powell Campground, Page. The park has free boat parking as well as fishing tackle for sale at the campground store.

Rafters on a blue boat navigate their vessel through raging, muddy water.

Rafters hurtle through Lava Falls on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon National Park. Photo: Grand Canyon NPS

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Colorado River runs for 277 miles through the floor of the Grand Canyon, a stretch of river that requires some serious hiking for access. Fortunately, outfitters are available to guide adventurers through some of the canyon’s most popular river spots. In the Lower Canyon in the park’s western end, rafters can sign up for a pulse-pounding trip on Class IV rapids. 

Stay: Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. Just two blocks from Route 66, this park places guests in proximity to some of northern Arizona’s finest attractions.

A small marina in a vast lake surrounded by desert.

Overlooking Lake Mead Marina, Hemenway Harbor and Las Vegas Boat Harbor. Photo: Thomas Haas.

Wakeboarding on emerald lake waters.

Boat wake surfing on Lake Mead. Photo: Wesley Tingey.

Boulder City, Nevada

Located east of Nevada, Boulder City is surrounded by several of the Southwest’s most popular attractions. Hoover Dam sits just 7 miles to the east, and Las Vegas lies 25 miles to the west. For boaters, the area’s main attraction lies just to the north, where lake mead awaits with its 247 square miles of water, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Several marinas in the area offer boaters all they need, from rentals to fishing gear, for great times on the water. Try your hand at kiteboarding, waterskiing, wakeboarding and boat wake surfing, which involves riding a board on the wake of a boat.

Stay: Stay Lake Mead RV Village at Boulder Beach, Boulder City. Enjoy a site with lake views and take advantage of nearby Marinas for swimming, fishing, boating and jet skiing.

Fishing on a river with stark dark mountains in background.

Fishing on Willow Beach, Arizona. Photo: Ken Lund

Willow Beach, Arizona

Willow beach is a popular kayak launch for scenic paddling in a natural environment. Less than a mile upstream, the waters of Emerald Cove shimmer with a bright, green hue, a result of light reflected from the surrounding rock walls. Venture into Emerald Cave and bask in the reflected radiance; it’s one of the river’s most popular photo ops. A few miles downstream from Willow Beach, the Black Canyon Water Trail takes paddlers into a stunning stretch of river with high rock walls on either side. Some outfitters offer trips upstream from Willow Beach to Hoover Dam.

Stay: Willow Beach Marina and Campground, Willow Beach. Overlooking the Colorado River, this park puts guests close to hiking and boating fun.

A camping resort on the banks of a placid lake.

Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave. Photo: NPS

Lake Mohave, Nevada

Few stretches of the Colorado River can match the scenic charm of Lake Mohave. This bulge in the river is surrounded by stark cliffs, some of which are adorned with petroglyphs from the Mohave American Indians dating back 3,000 years. The water recreation is equally spectacular, with marinas on both the California and Nevada side of the river.

Stay: Cottonwood Cove Nevada RV Park & Marina, Searchlight. Located on the shores of Lake Mohave, this park positions guests just steps from the lake’s shore.

Gleaming and colorful casinos reflected on a river.

Casinos tower over the river in Laughlin, Nevada. Photo: Ken Lund.

Bullhead City, Arizona/Laughlin, Nevada

Separated by the Colorado River, this pair of cities combine to form one of the region’s most popular destinations. In Laughlin (on the Nevada side), casinos offer gaming and entertainment thrills around the clock. In Bullhead City (Arizona), life is a bit more mellow, with attractions like the Colorado River Museum and nearby natural attractions. The cities both share fantastic river adventures, with many marinas offering entrance onto the current. A water taxi ferries passengers between the towns.

Stay: Vista Del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City. This 55+ active adult retirement community has lots of amenities for active travelers and sits within striking distance of river recreation.

Boats motor around a small marina with pirate ship in the middle.

Pirate Cove Resort & Marina

Needles, California

The small border town on the Colorado river boasts several attractions, including the Bagdad Cafe, Amboy Crater and Calico Ghost Town. But boating enthusiasts head to the water, where kayaking, canoeing and boating opportunities abound. Offroading is popular here, too, with several trails branching out from Needles and into the surrounding desert terrain.

Stay: Pirate Cove Resort & Marina, Needles. Guests here can choose between river fun aboard one of the resort’s boat rentals or exploring the thousands of miles of offroad trails nearby. An onsite restaurant, fishing guides, marina and more make this resort a popular river spot.

Two men in a boat fish on Lake Havasu under a full moon during the day.

Fishing on Lake Havasu. Photo: Go Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu stands out as one of the most vibrant stops along the Colorado River. Formed by the Parker Dam, the 19,300-acre reservoir attracts visitors from around the world for boating and fishing in the shadows of rugged desert mountains rising over the shore. Lake Havasu City attracts festivals that include the Lake Havasu Spring Break Party in March, the International Jet Ski World Finals in October and Lake Havasu Rockabilly Reunion in February. Quirky attractions here include the London Bridge — transplanted from England brick-by-brick in 1967 — and lighthouses that line its shore (although they look decorative, they serve a vital function of protecting boaters from the shore). Come for the great boating and fishing, stay for the party in one of the restaurants and bars in town.

Flame-colored speedboat

A speedboat motors across Lake Havasu. Photo: Go Lake Havasu

Stay: Campbell Cove RV Resort, Lake Havasu City. Overlooking the Windsor Beach Wildlife Refuge area, the resort treats guests to panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There are several Lake Havasu RV Parks in the area.

A steel bridge spans a calm river at sunset.

Built in 1914, the Colorado River Bridge in Yuma also goes by the nickname, Ocean to Ocean Bridge. Photo: Getty Images

Yuma, Arizona

Sitting just a few miles north of the Mexican border, Yuma is a fitting capper to a U.S. Colorado River odyssey. This town covers the gamut when it comes to river recreation. Visitors can choose a leisurely tubing ride on the current or take a jet boat tour to see petroglyphs and bighorn sheep along the banks. The river irrigates farms throughout the region, fueling one of America’s most exciting farm-to-table dining scenes. Grab a locally brewed beer or dig into a fresh salad as you plan the next day’s river adventure.

Stay: Blue Sky RV Resort gives guests great access to all the area has to offer. A relaxing pool, pickleball court and doggie corral engage guests in a laid-back environment.