A Day on the Blue River – Animals, Views, and Thrills

Right down the middle of Summit County flows the Blue River of Colorado. This beautiful river branches from the great Colorado River near Kremmling, going south about 65 miles until splitting into Monte Cristo Creek and Bemrose Creek. Along the way, the Blue River feeds the Green Mountain Reservoir, Dillon Reservoir, and Goose Pasture Tarn and passes through the cities of Silverthorne and Breckenridge. Often referred to as one of Colorado’s most scenic rivers, there is plenty to gaze upon, from wildlife to breathtaking natural landscapes. If you are looking to bask in Colorado’s natural glory, with the Blue River, you don’t have to look far.


Seeing Elk or Moose is common in the area. They are likely to be the first wild animals you see on any outing, as they have become more accustomed to being near people than other wildlife.  The 200 to 500 Moose that roam the area tend to keep to themselves, with few visits to residential areas. You are much more likely to spot them around water sources when they aren’t wandering about. Some of their favorite locations along the Blue River are around Silverthorne and Frisco.

summit county moose

Photo Courtesy of Friscolodge.com

               Elk are year-round inhabitants of Summit County, which makes them the easiest to spot. They hang around higher elevations until the snowpack reaches 1-2 feet. Therefore, cruising the Blue River in the warmer months increases your chances of seeing these beautiful wild beasts. September through November is Elk/Deer hunting season in Colorado, so naturally, you’ll find Elk are much more evasive during these months.

A Mule Deer amongst the wildflowers in Breckenridge.

              Photo Courtesy of gobreck.com

Mule deer and white-tailed deer are active at sunrise and sunset, so if you’re on the Blue River around then, you may run into a herd. Other creatures that are found in Summit County include coyotes, mountain goats, and black bears. These, however, are less likely to be found along the Blue River but may be spotted off in the distance in the areas surrounding the watershed. Of course, trout fishing is also a popular activity on the Blue River.


The natural beauty surrounding the Blue River is sometimes overwhelming. This is a high alpine river that offers a lot of nutrients for a robust ecosystem through its watershed. Just about everywhere you look, you will see many kinds of Fir, Spruce, and Pine trees. These evergreens make for a beautiful landscape any time of the year. In the spring and summer, there’s a much wider variety of colors stemming from daisies, sunflowers, iris, and deciduous trees like Aspen, Waxleaf, and White Poplars.

breckenridge flowers for planting plant

Photo Courtesy of rockiespropertymanagement.com

Beyond the plants, trees, and wildlife that call the Blue River watershed home, it is pretty hard to miss the enormous Front Range peaks that help feed the Colorado and Blue River while they pass through the centennial state. To name a few that encompass the Blue River, there is the Ptarmigan Peak, Williams Peak, Red Peak, and peaks 4, 8, and 9.

Blue River Campground | Outdoor Project

Photo Courtesy of Outdoorproject.com


Probably the easiest way to traverse the Blue River, take in the sights, catch a glimpse of wildlife, and have an exciting time with the family is to go whitewater rafting. Starting your guided tour at the Blue River campground puts you along the most interesting route. The area between this drop-in and Silverthorne is a class II-III section known as the Columbine Landing. For families with children ages 5+ and staying near Breckenridge, this 6mile trip is highly recommended.

Aside from rafting other unique thrills that let you explore the Blue River include renting stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, or bikes. Both road biking and mountain biking trails are available all over the Blue River area. Whether on the water or land, you can expect easy access to equipment, trails, and guides.

Colorado Rafting

The Blue River has tons to offer in terms of animals, vegetation, landscapes, fun activities, history, and everything mountain towns can offer as well. Easily one of the most scenic rivers in Colorado, there’s much to do and see when you visit the high country between Kremmling and Breckenridge. If you’re lucky, you can see and experience everything we mentioned in one day on the Blue River.