In this article we discuss ten places you can paddle in Colorado that are located near the capital city of Denver!
Colorado is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Giant mountain peaks, low pine-tree valleys, and plenty of rivers and lakes make for endless adventures to be had outside.
Most people in Colorado enjoy a combination of hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and kayaking. But lately, there has been a new activity gaining in popularity.
Can you guess what it is? Obvious, right? SUP! Stand up paddle boarding is spreading throughout Colorado because of the beautiful locations available to explore. And with an inflatable paddle board, the ease with which you can travel and explore is greatly enhanced.
That’s why we wanted to share some of our favorite paddling spots in this beautiful state. So you too can explore, discover, and share in the good times with your friends.
Come along with us as we uncover 10 places to paddle board located close to the capital city of Denver. And be sure to share these locations with your paddling friends!
Let’s begin where we always do…
At number one.
1. Sloan’s Lake
Want to leave the city streets but don’t want to travel too far? A trip to Sloan Lake is the best option. In fact, you don’t even need to leave Denver to enjoy this beautiful paddling location.
When on the water you’ll be greeted with a view of the mountains on the west side of the lake and the Denver skyline on the east. Once on the water, it’s typically calm, flat, and easy to paddle. Just be sure to keep your eyes open for motorized vessels as you will most likely be sharing the water with plenty of water-skiers and wake-boarders. While this might be a small inconvenience for some paddlers, take it as a good sign! These type of activities can only be done on flat, calm waters.
Head here if you don’t have much time to drive to a farther launch location. And if you enjoy paddling on flat water. Plus, with the views, you’ll be able to snap pics worth saving!
Admission: $49 for season permit for residents of the state and $97 for non-residents
2. Aurora Reservoir
What makes Aurora Reservoir worth a trip? Is it the calm body of water perfect for a SUP? Yes, of course. Or is it the wide open spaces where you’ll be able to catch your breath outside of the packed city streets? Maybe. But what makes Aurora Reservoir most memorable are the sandy beaches you’ll find here not unlike what you’d find at any coastline beach in the United States.
That’s right, the Aurora Reservoir has wide-open sandy beaches were you’ll be able to launch your SUP into the waters with ease! Grab a cooler, a beach umbrella, and a good group of friends for a regular time out at the beach. You won’t regret it!
Directions to Aurora Reservoir
Admission: $10 entrance fee + $10 watercraft access fee
3. Bear Creek Lake Park
Our next location is actually a two-in-one deal. Within the confines of Bear Creek Lake Park you will find two places to launch your SUP and have fun. They include Big Soda Lake and Bear Creek Lake.
Big Soda Lake is restricted to non-motorized vessels. So, SUP here is perfect for the beginner paddler or for those who enjoy a more tranquil setting to paddle, relax, and explore. Not to mention, in the early mornings or late evenings, the wind here is light so you will have the perfect glassy conditions to go on a longer paddle.
Bear Creek Lake on the other hand, does allow motorized boats but they are restricted to less than 10 horsepower. Which is good news. The smaller a boat, and the smaller engines they have, the less likely you are to be affected by their wakes as they pass by.
So, which one should you paddle? Why not both?! Take the day to explore both areas and see what they have to offer. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have some fun.
Directions to Bear Creek Lake Park
Admission: $10 entrance fee, $60 annual resident pass, $75 annual non-resident pass
4. Cherry Creek Reservoir
Our second reservoir on the list takes us to Cherry Creek. In the summer, this launch location is full of watercraft ranging from boats, canoes, kayaks, and jet skis, to our preferred vessel, SUPs.
This location isn’t the largest body of water on our list so if boats bother you, consider a different location before you head here. However, for the adventurers out there, you can paddle much of Cherry Creek in one day, while trying to ride some of the wakes kicked up by passing boats and other watercraft.
Consider this location a great place to hang out, meet some new friends, and explore for the day.
Directions to Cherry Creek Reservoir
Admission: $9 daily
5. Chatfield Reservoir
Did you know you can scuba dive as well as paddle in Colorado? It’s true! And you can do it at the Chatfield Reservoir. While we can’t promise you’ll be able to see much while submerged underwater like you would in the tropics, you can still have the adventure of a lifetime as you sink under the water to explore.
On top of that Chatfield is a popular place to kayak, jet ski, cruise around in small boats, and paddle board.
Plus, if you stay until the evening, there’s a great chance of spotting a beautiful sunset behind the mountain views. A must-see!
Directions to Chatfield Reservoir
Admission: $8 daily entrance fee, or a $70 annual pass
6. Standley Lake
Do you want to be guaranteed not to run into any motorized vessels while trying to enjoy a peaceful paddle? Then a trip to Standley Lake is your remedy. 250 of the 1,200 surface acres of the lake are devoted to non-motorzied vessels. This means, you and your fellow paddlers can paddle rest assured you won’t meet any trouble with wakes or passing boat traffic.
However, if you’re in a more adventurous mood, you can still access the rest of the lake at your own risk.
If you’re a person who enjoys choices, then Standley Lake is the place for you.
Admission: $7 car free, $15 daily paddle pass
7. Union Reservoir
Head here if you’re in the mood for a tranquil paddle farther outside the city center of Denver.
Union Reservoir is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of many of Denver’s more crowded lakes and reservoirs. However, it does take 45 minutes to get here from Denver’s center. And that’s without traffic.
Make sure you have plenty of time before heading here. But if tranquility is your pleasure, the drive, and the traffic, is worth it.
Admission: $8 entrance fee
8. Smith Lake at Washington Park
Smith Lake is one of the few places on our list for paddling in Colorado that is open strictly to non-motorized vessels. Why is this the case? Because it’s small. But what it lacks in area to explore, it makes up for it with its close proximity to Denver. In fact, it’s just a short 15 minute drive from downtown.
This is a perfect spot to sneak out for a quick paddle at lunch. A spontaneous rendezvous with friends. Or for a fun workout instead of a trip to the gym.
Directions to Smith Lake at Washington Park
9. Evergreen Lake
Can you guess what the main feature is at Evergreen Lake? If you guessed evergreen trees, then congrats, you’re correct. But beyond this feature, Evergreen Lake is a beautiful place to hang out, paddle, and be surrounded by the beauty inherent to Colorado.
If you head to the Evergreen Lake House in between paddle sessions, you’ll be lucky enough to take in some wonderful views of the lake and the scenery.
There is also another great feature of paddling here. Every Saturday of July there is night paddle boarding where you can head onto the water underneath the stars. This unique experience does come at a small price of $15 for one hour. But it’s well worth it!
Admission: $4 private boat fee, $20 per hour SUP rental
10. Boulder Reservoir
Our last location for paddling in the Colorado area lands up at Boulder Reservoir. One cool feature of this location is the dedicated bird preserve on the western edge of the shore. While it is closed from July to October, if you visit during this time you’ll still be able to spot a variety of species from the shore or even from your board.
One words of caution. The winds here do pick up during the day. So, you’re best bet is to head here in the early morning for a great way to start your day. Or during the evening for an even better way to end it.
Directions to Boulder Reservoir
Admission: $7 entrance fee, $35 personal watercraft season pass (required)
Ready to adventure into a few of these locations in the Denver area? Before you go, always be sure to check the wind and weather conditions at the location you plan on visiting. Conditions can change rapidly. And you don’t want to be caught in a hard wind or thunderstorm while on the water. But when you do go, let us know your favorite location! And always remember to adventure on!
Questions, comments? We’re here to help! Send a message to our inbox and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.