7 Best Places to Play in the Water in Colorado
Paddleboarding on Lake Dillion, Colorado. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Bode (OutThere Colorado Staff)
When it’s hot outside, few things feel better than taking a refreshing dip in cool water. But with no oceans around, how does an overheated person find relief? Colorado may be landlocked but there are still plenty of places to go swimming, enjoy boating, or just relax with family and friends. The Centennial State is loaded with lakes where you can cool off and have fun. Get set to get wet at these seven lakes.
1. Dillon Reservoir
Located in picturesque Summit County, the Frisco Bay Marina on Dillon Reservoir is only about an hour west of Denver. At an elevation of 9,017 feet and surrounded by mountains, the views from anywhere on the reservoir are superb. Dillon Reservoir offers 27 miles of shoreline on 3,300 acres and even has several islands to explore. Boating season is best from early June to mid-September when the weather is most predictable and warmer temperatures allow you to stay out longer on the water.
Frisco Bay Marina
The Frisco Bay Marina is the hub of lake activities on Dillon Reservoir. Not only does the Marina offer canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and powerboat rentals, it also waterside dining at the Island Grill (open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend) and guided tours and lessons.
The Marina also has a beautiful sandy beach to hang out on; swimming, however, is not allowed in Dillon Reservoir because the water is just a bit too cold for humans. Perfect for fish though! You can rent fishing poles from the Marina or head out on a guided fishing tour of Dillon Reservoir with professional fishing guides. You’re likely to catch Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, and Arctic Char in the lake’s chilly waters.
The Marina is the perfect place to spend the day with the kids: when you’re done with your adventures on the water, you can grab your picnic and hangout at Marina Park, complete with a kid’s playground. You can also jump on the Summit Shuttle Water Taxi to cross the lake and explore the Dillon Marina and town.
Reserve your boat rentals from the Frisco Bay Marina more than 24 hours in advance of your trip, and receive a discount!
2. Twin Lakes
Located between Leadville and Aspen, Twin Lakes is situated near the base of Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado. Twin Lakes was originally two naturally formed glacial lakes that were eventually turned into a reservoir. It has a surface area of 2,700 acres which makes it perfect for boating, canoeing and kayaking. Twin Lakes is also well-known for its fishing, especially trout.
3. Vallecito Lake
Spanish for “little valley,” Vallecito Lake is a short drive from Durango and about a 90-minute drive from the Four Corners Monument. The Vallecito Marina, the only one on the lake, offers boat, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals. Swimming areas are also available.
4. Prospect Lake
Colorado Springs, Colorado
If you’re looking for all the fun of a lake but need the modern conveniences of a city, Prospect Lake in the heart of Colorado Springs is the way to go. With an open water swim area, a historic beach house, picnic tables, beach volleyball, and locker rooms, this lake has a number of useful features, particularly for families.
5. Grand Lake
Grand Lake, Colorado
Located two hours northeast of Denver, the appropriately named Grand Lake is Colorado’s deepest and largest natural lake. Located in the town of Grand Lake and a stones throw from Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors can paddleboard, kayak, boat, fish, or enjoy themselves however they please. If you come at the right time of year, you may even be able to check out Regatta Week, hosted by the world’s highest registered yacht club, the Grand Lake Yacht Club.
6. Jackson Lake
Many of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs are located in the western part of the state, but if you’re visiting the northeast corner of Colorado, Jackson Lake State Park is certainly worth a visit. A 90-minute drive from Denver, the 2,700 acre lake offers visitors a place to beat the summer heat. Swimming, fishing, boating, and jet and water skiing are popular activities here.
7. Horsetooth Reservoir
Fort Collins, Colorado
Strange name, cool place. Located a short 15-minute drive from Fort Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir was named after a rock formation that sits above the Poudre River. At 6.5 miles long, it features swimming, fishing, boating, and water skiing. It’s also one of the few lakes in Colorado that has areas dedicated to scuba diving.