No, you won’t see palm trees swaying in the breeze or hear crashing waves, but Colorado still has some gorgeous shorelines that are worth the trip when you are in the Centennial State. What Colorado lacks in typical beach scenery, the state makes up for in mountain views and pristine natural settings. But before you head out to the lake or reservoir, remember that the sun is more intense at elevation (the locations mentioned are all above 5,000 feet), so don’t forget your sunscreen protection and plenty of water to stay hydrated!
Chatfield State Park | Littleton, Colorado
Chatfield State Park is located about 20-30 minutes Southwest of Denver, and the daily fee is currently $8 per vehicle.
The park backs up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and a big draw for visitors of this park is both the proximity to Denver and the variety of activities for visitors. Activities at Chatfield State Park range from swimming, boating, fishing, jet skiing and water skiing, sailboarding and paddle boarding, to hiking and biking along the 26 miles of trails throughout the park. The park also features hot air balloon rides (for a fee) so you can get a birds-eye view of the park and the city of Denver in the distance.
If you have your dog with you, there is an off-leash dog park area that has an additional fee. The off-leash area includes ponds, but not access to the Chatfield Lake.
Jackson Lake State Park | Orchard, CO
Jackson Lake State Park is a little over an hour to the Northeast of Denver, and the daily fee is currently $7 per vehicle.
Known as an “oasis in the plains”, this park can get windy, making Jackson Lake a great place to get on the water for some sailboarding! The lake is also somewhat shallow, which means it warms up and is a great temperature for swimming. Birdwatchers travel to Jackson Lake because of the abundance of bird species that can be spotted year-round. Jackson Lake State Park also has 2 geocaching sites, and also has a popular dirt bike and 4-wheeler OHV track.
Lake Pueblo State Park | Pueblo, Colorado
Lake Pueblo is 2 hours south of Denver, and the daily fee is currently $7 per vehicle.
Lake Pueblo has over 60 miles of shoreline, and is a very popular location for boating, hiking, biking, fishing, and just relaxing by the water. Bird watchers love Lake Pueblo for the birds of prey that can be found here. The bald eagles are likely to be gone by summer, but Great-horned owls, Red-tailed hawks, Ospreys, Turkey Vultures, and the occasional Peregrine Falcon are commonly sighted.
The park is actually the Pueblo Reservoir, part of the Arkansas River, with views of the Greenhorn and Wet mountain ranges, as well as Pikes Peak in the distance. Below the reservoir dam, visitors can enjoy white water rafting and kayaking adventures in the Arkansas River.
Blue Mesa Reservoir | Gunnison, CO
The Blue Mesa Reservoir is located 4 hours Southwest from Denver, in the Curecanti National Recreational Area near the Gunnison National Forest.
Like many of the other locations, boating and fishing are very popular here, but there plenty of room for everyone on the largest body of water in Colorado. There are mountains and national forest access all around the reservoir, and while the shoreline is mostly rocky, there are some good swimming spots at the Bay of Chickens, Dry Creek, and the Old Highway 50 beach.
Grand Lake | Grand Lake, Colorado
The city of Grand Lake is on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, about 2 hours Northwest of Denver.
Just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest natural lake. The high alpine lake is likely to be a bit brisk, since it is fed from mountain runoff, but feels quite refreshing after a long day at the nearby national park. Grand Lake also has the United State’s highest altitude golf course, and a historic boardwalk along Grand Avenue.
Boulder Reservoir | Boulder, CO
Boulder Reservoir is in north Boulder, which is about 40 minutes Northwest of Denver. The daily fee is currently $6.25 per adult.
The Boulder Reservoir is a favorite of Boulder locals and can get really busy in the summer, so make sure you get there early! The reservoir is easy to get to, and is great for swimming, boating, kayaking, or picnicking. There is also a lifeguard on duty here in a supervised swimming area, which none of the other beaches listed have.
There you have it—Colorado might not have the ocean, but there are still some great options for visitors looking for sun, sand, and water!
by Abbie Mood