Colorado is home to some of the premiere waterways in the United States. Surrounded by enormous pines, mountains as far as the eye can see, and house-sized boulders, there is no shortage of adventure in the Centennial State. Plus, with a city like Denver so close by, excitement begins just outside your doorstep. So, in no particular order, here are ten top-rated paddles that anyone can enjoy!
At approximately one hour from Denver, this location is a bit of a drive, but trust us–it’s well worth the trip. Once you arrive, you will be greeted by sweeping views of over six square miles of liquid awesome. There’s lots to explore, and getting there is simple; boat launches around the reservoir make for easy access on and off the water.
Just adjacent to the smaller Sixmile Reservoir, this spot sits at a cool 5,177’ ASL. Start your adventure here by launching at one of two beaches on the south side of the lake near the Community Sailing of Colorado. From there, explore the peninsula to the west or the inlet to the north; whichever direction you go, you’re certain to find some hidden treasures. Since motorized craft are allowed on the lake, stick close to shore if you’re forced to share the water with other boaters.
So good it was worth making bigger, this 1,423 acre reservoir was recently expanded to allow for greater volume. Not only did this increase the area available to paddlers, it also allowed more space for our furry friends–the area is frequented by over 300 bird species and home to numerous mammals. You can also check out the Audubon Center which offers natural education programs to enthusiasts of all ages to dive deeper into an informative paddle boarding experience.
Though it sits next to the Evergreen Golf Course, this lake still boasts breathtaking views in every direction. Park your vehicle at the east end of the reservoir and climb a short set of stairs before being greeted with views of Evergreen and the surrounding area. Explore the perimeter and check out some of the impressive architectural accomplishments that dot the water’s edge. This lake is also open to motorized and non-motorized vessels.
Lake Pueblo State Park
When you’re looking for a real getaway away from the hustle and bustle, travel south to Pueblo Lake for a true change of scenery. It’s easy to get on the water from one of the two local marinas, and when you’re exhausted from a long day of paddling, there are plenty of nearby campgrounds to call home. Also, don’t forget your rod and license as this lake offers some outstanding fishing opportunities.
Fresh air and pure water – these two essential ingredients for life are in abundance at Standley Lake. Grab your paddle board and come back to life at this rejeuvenating spot. With the 96’ foot deep lake composing approximately one third of the surrounding Standley Lake Regional Park, there is no shortage of places to discover both on and off the water. The area also has a boat ramp and a restroom facility for easy access.
South Platte River
On a sunny day, expect to see a multitude of people recreating in this popular Denver locale. Enjoyed by kayakers, sunbathers, and photographers alike, this river provides a wonderful natural resource minutes from the heart of downtown Denver. Plus, getting to the river has gotten significantly easier: it was originally called Niinéniiniicíihéhe by the native Arapaho people, so typing South Platte into your GPS will save you tons of valuable time on the water.
Bear Creek Lake
If you love the feeling of sand between your toes and sun on your face, make sure to drop in at the Big Soda Lake beach at this regional park area. There is a dedicated swimming area as well as plenty of water beyond to explore on your board. And, with the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre within eye- and earshot, you might be able to catch some jams to rock out to while paddling the cool waters.
This area may be 40 miles from the City, but the drive is enjoyable as it takes you over the scenic Guanella Pass road. Access the lake and find yourself surrounded by high country pine forests and lush rolling hills. There is no development around the lake so if you’re seeking solitude, Clear Lake is well worth the ride.
Shadow Mountain Lake
Intricate coves. Mysterious Islands. Towering mountains. If these things interest you, take a trip up to the Granby area to enjoy this lake. Bordering Rocky Mountain National Park, there are some magnificent movie-worthy vistas as well as a few islands to circumnavigate. As a bonus, and since paddle boards are so nimble, you can travel east along a small channel and find yourself on the adjoining Grand Lake.
Pack it up and get paddling!
Whether you’re seeking a quick getaway or planning an overnight expedition, Colorado offers a multitude of incredible paddling opportunities. Pack light or bring the kitchen sink, there’s a paddle boarding spot for everyone and you don’t always have to travel far to get it! Have fun and always remember to stay safe while on the water.
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