CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista

Glorious river season, the time when big waves are all the talk, tanned faces greet you with a smile, and tourists fill restaurants and shops, bringing with them an infectious energy.

To celebrate the arrival of high water and the river rats who ride its waves, Colorado Kayak Supply (CKS) in Buena Vista throws its annual Paddlefest, an activity-filled weekend honoring the Arkansas River and the valley through which it runs.

During Memorial Day Weekend, May 25th to May 28th, kayakers, rafters, bikers, climbers, families, spectators, beer connoisseurs, foodies, nature lovers, and more descend upon Buena Vista to partake in or watch any one of dozens of activities and competitions.

Whitewater events include everything from kayak and stand up paddleboard competitions to group paddles and roll clinics. The whitewater events conclude on Monday with the popular Race to the Grill. During this family-friendly event, all ages boat, SUP, or float the Milk Run to River Runners Grill where food and drinks await.

Want to get your feet wet but are a little intimidated by whitewater? Not to worry. Paddlefest has you covered. Several options for flat water fun are available at the town pond. Try your hand at stand up paddleboarding or practice your roll without the stress of big rapids.

Although Paddlefest is traditionally a water-based festival, the last few years have witnessed an increase in land events. These events range from disc golf competitions and running races to bouldering competitions and town parties.

This year, in honor of a very powerful and important movement, CKS is showcasing a women’s group paddle, ladies’ competitions, and a women adventurers film series on Thursday night at the Watershed Stage.

Buena Vista is the place to be Memorial Day Weekend. The energy here is infectious and real, the crowds are generous and happy, and the mood is so uplifting, you can’t help but want to dare yourself to push your own boundaries.

Visit for more information.

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About our extraordinary writer: Lindsay Diamond is a novelist and freelance writer living in the mountains of central Colorado. Visit to learn more.