Usually, when you hear the word ‘beach’, you automatically think about a beach at the ocean. And in the United States, California or Florida quickly come to mind. Beaches in Denver and Colorado, however, do exist! With the main difference being most are situated on the edge of lakes, reservoirs, creeks, or even springs.
Even though there is no coastline, swimming in CO is still a fantastic experience and a must-do in the warm summer sunshine. Read on for the best swimming holes and Denver beaches in Colorado.
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CLOSEST PUBLIC BEACHES TO DENVER CITY CENTER
Denver offers some spectacular lakeside and reservoir beaches to enjoy. These beaches are no more than 1 hour drive from Denver center by car, making them perfect for a day trip just outside the city.
1. CHERRY CREEK PARK – THE BEST DENVER BEACH
Cherry Creek Park is a scenic oasis just 20 minutes by car from the Denver city center. Within the park you will find a stunning and SANDY beach! It’s the perfect place to swim, suntan or have a beach picnic. Additionally, the park rents out equipment for a range of different water activities. I’m talking boats, jet skis, stand up paddle boards and more. So no matter what type of beach-goer you are, you’re sure to have fun here.
But this park is so much more than only a great swimming destination. It is also the perfect place for outdoor lovers. The park is over 4000 acres of awesome hiking, biking, bird watching, camping and more. Not to mention the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. A must visit!
2. CONFLUENCE PARK
Confluence Park is the closest beach to Denver. But let’s get real for a second – this is an urban park right in the city. So the beach area is small but mighty! It’s located just 5 minutes from the city center and is situated where the Cherry Creek and South Platte rivers meet. Here you can take in the beautiful scenery, swim and watch the kayakers battle through the rapids.
There is a lovely beach on the banks where you can enjoy the sun and maybe even get a suntan. But to round off your visit, be sure and take in the other awesome activities at Confluence Park. It’s the perfect place for a picnic, skating, tubing, fishing or taking a leisurely stroll along the Cherry Creek Path. From here it’s easy to get back into the city where there’s even more incredible things to do in Denver.
3. AURORA RESERVOIR
When looking at beaches near Denver, the Aurora Reservoir should definitely be near the top of your list. The reservoir offers a seasonal beach for sunbathing and swimming and has an array of fishing, sailing, and rowboats. There is also a scuba and archery area along an 8-mile walking trail for guests to explore.
With over 800-acres of water, this is a nature preserve you can really spend some time exploring.
4. BOULDER RESERVOIR
Boulder Reservoir is one of the lakes near Boulder, CO, just 40 minutes away from Denver. Much like Aurora Reservoir, this lake is a multi-use recreation area for boating, swimming, walking, and sunbathing.
On-site you will also find picnic areas, event space, and a restaurant to enjoy a bite to eat.
5. CHATFIELD STATE PARK
Chatfield’s Park Beach is a beautiful beach in Colorado nestled amongst the foothills of Southwest Denver. Just 30 minutes from Denver city center you can find breathtaking trails, hot air balloon rides, mountain biking, and more at this charming state park. The beach is great for sunbathing, swimming, and boating of all types.
6. STANLEY LAKE REGIONAL PARK
Stanley Lake is a stunning lake near Boulder. It is the largest body of water in the Westminster area and home to an array of fun activities. On top of your usual lakeside activities, in this park, you can choose to stay a night or two in their rentable tipis. The park also offers hiking trails for guests, where you can walk up to the Windmills in Westminster. This windmill park generates power for lights around the city, specifically railroad crossing lights.
7. SOUTH BAY, HORSETOOTH RESERVOIR
Horsetooth Reservoir is one of the naturally made lake beaches near Denver. There is a sandy beach with a swimming area for guests to dip into. The reservoir is almost 2000 acres and spans over 6 miles in length. Besides swimming and sunbathing, the reservoir has picnic areas, fire pits, and benches.
If you’re planning to go in the summer months, keep in mind that parking is sparse. So pack some snacks, arrive early, and make the most of your water-side adventure.
SWIMMING LAKES IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Just 1 hour from Denver is Colorado Springs. This town is definitely worth a visit to see its stunning beaches and enticing swimming holes.
8. PROSPECT LAKE
Prospect Lake is one of the best swimming lakes in Colorado Springs. You can swim and frolic in the designated swimming area in the summertime, or jump on a speed boat and try some water skiing. This is a great place to relax with the family. The kids can play in the park in the extensive playground or splash around in the water.
You can venture on some walking trails around the lake and watch the amazing sunsets behind the mountains at the closest beach to Colorado Springs.
9. QUAIL LAKE
Another Colorado Springs beach is Quail Lake. One side of the lake has sandy shores for you to sunbathe on or launch your non-motorized vessels out on the water. The kids can have fun in the playground while you play on the available sand volleyball or basketball courts.
Quail Lake is also a great place to watch the vibrant sunsets that end off a memorable beach day.
MORE COLORADO SWIMMING HOLES
Around Denver are multiple Nature Reserves with no short supply of some of the best swimming spots. Prepare the sunscreen and snack and head out for a fun day in the sun and a beach day that won’t be soon forgotten.
10. JACKSON LAKE STATE PARK
Jackson Lake State Park is one of the best Colorado lakes. It was voted one of the ‘Top 15 Park Beaches’ by Reserve America. Jackson Lake has many activities to enjoy during your visit, from swimming and boating to fishing and waterskiing. The park is also considered a central flyway migratory for birds. This brings hunters and birders from all over the country.
11. BLUE MOUNTAIN MESA RESERVOIR
This Colorado swimming hole is a bit further away. Blue Mountain Reservoir is 4 hours out of Denver, but absolutely worth the drive! This body of water is the largest in the state, offering an abundance of shoreline and sunbathing-worthy beaches. This stunning reservoir’s water sparkles with the Black Canyon of Gunnison behind it as a backdrop.
12. MEDANO CREEK
Medano Creek is another stop that you don’t want to skip. This creek lies between the dunes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and is a popular place over the May and June weekends. Here you can enjoy rafting and floating devices while catching a golden tan along the shoreline. And don’t forget to bring your sandboard or cardboard box to ride down the dunes for a bit of extra fun.
13. GRAND LAKE
Grand Lake can be found in the Rocky Mountain National Park, 2 hours out of Denver. However, this is no ordinary lake. Besides the stunning views of the white, snow-capped Rockies, there is a Grand Lake Lodging Resort and even a boardwalk, shopping spots, and a museum.
To get the best all-round view and utilization of the lake, it’s worth following the hiking trails to cascading waterfalls and lookout points.
14. NORTH STAR BEACH
Denver, Colorado, beaches can get rather busy in the hotter months. If you’re looking for something more private, you may enjoy North Star Beach. This nestled away beach in North Star Nature Preserve is 3,5 hours from Denver. The small beach is secluded amongst the lush trees and offers a great swimming opportunity in the Roaring Fork River.
But note that this beach is closed from October to May.
15. DILLON RESERVOIR
The Dillon Reservoir is located in the Summit Country of Colorado and offers over 26 miles of beachy shoreline for the public to enjoy. You can bring your SUP or kayaks to thoroughly enjoy the water experience or hop out on your fishing boat for some angling. There are two small towns nearby, Frisco and Dillion, where you can explore the amenities and access the reservoir.
16. JOHN MARTIN RESERVOIR
Since this reservoir is further out from Denver, it’s worth spending a few nights at the Hasty Campgrounds nearby. This body of water is sometimes called the ‘sapphire on the plains’ because it’s a rare and secluded gem to find. Here you can swim and boat the day away and maybe even catch a fish to cook on the fire for dinner.
This park doesn’t get too busy, making it great to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON DENVER & COLORADO BEACHES
There are beautiful lakes in Colorado, not to mention the variety of stunning reservoirs, creeks, and beaches to explore. Grab the family and your friends and head out on an unforgettable adventure to the lakes in Boulder, CO, or the best spots for swimming in Colorado Springs.
Enjoy boating, skiing, and swimming on the waters or take a rod and fishing boat out for some angling and maybe a catch for dinner.