13 Awesome Lakes You Can Play At in Colorado

While many people think of Colorado as the place to ski or snowboard and escape to the mountains (and they’re not wrong), Colorado also has other great outdoor qualities. It’s not necessarily the Minnesota or Michigan equivalent, but Colorado has some great lakes and places to swim out in nature. Check out these great lakes of Colorado that the whole family will love.

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Lakes in the Denver Area

Chatfield Reservoir – Littleton

11500 N Roxborough Park Rd Littleton, CO 80125

Chatfield State Park can be accessed easily from highway C470 south and west of Denver. The park is a great place for family activities and lake days with kids. First, find the beach area where you can spend all day playing and swimming. If you’re looking to boat, boats are allowed, though it can get crowded out there, so go early! Otherwise, you can enjoy 26 miles of bike trails (12 miles paved for those strollers!), fish, go horseback riding from Chatfield Stables, paddleboarding, and you can even bring your furry friend as long as he is leashed (no dogs in the beach area, though).

Campers have access to both electric hook ups and FULL hook ups (make a reservation!) Chatfield is great for kids and families of all ages.

You may also like visiting nearby Roxborough State Park.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

Cherry Creek Reservoir is located at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, less than a half-hour south from Denver. It’s similar in amenities to Chatfield since it has a beach area, boat ramps, you can paddle board, kayak, and jet ski here too! Bring the kids bikes for the trails around the area, the fishing poles, and good shoes for hiking. There’s even a dog park at Cherry Creek State Park so your furry friend can run free. Visit here to register, get passes, and licenses you may need to visit.

Big Soda Lake (Bear Creek Lake Park) – Lakewood

15600 W Morrison Rd Lakewood, CO 80465

Bear Creek Lake Park has a great beach area for the family to enjoy at Big Soda Lake. Cool off and play in the water, or if you’re feeling motivated, take a few laps in the swim lanes created by orange buoys. Kids will love being able to switch off between the water and the playground. You can even bring a volleyball and get a game going on one of the courts. You can go to Rocky Mountain Paddle Boards online to reserve/rent a paddle board, kayak, canoe, or paddle boat; all things that kids will love!

If you’re looking to boat, you can do so at Bear Creek Lake, just down the road. There are also plenty of hiking trails around the area and even an archery range to try out.

Want to bring your own SUP? Check out these highly rated Stand Up Paddle Boards!

Lakes in Northern Colorado

Boulder Reservoir – Boulder

5565 51st Street, Boulder, CO 80301

Boulder Reservoir, sand and water

Boulder Reservoir has something many swim beaches don’t…a life guard! This Colorado lake with a lifeguard is large and requires a water temperature of at least 60 degrees (F) to open the swim area. Note that groups larger than 10 people must make a reservation. Also, if you bring any watercraft including large inflatables like paddle boards, you must have a permit.

Boulder Reservoir also has a nice, indoor restaurant for when you need a break and a little fuel. Inside are also bathrooms and a locker room to make your trip to the lake as easy as possible! This great lake in Colorado is perfect to bring kids to!

Horsetooth Reservoir – Fort Collins

4200 W County Rd 38 E, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Horsetooth reservoir in Fort Collins

Located near the fun town of Fort Collins, this is a great outing for the whole family. Swimming is allowed at Horsetooth Reservoir, as well as camping, biking, boating and fishing. The Horsetooth Reservoir is near Horsetooth open space and Horsetooth Falls, if you’d like to add some more adventure to your trip. Check out the website for Horsetooth Reservoir for more info.

Lake Loveland – Loveland

2626 N Taft Avenue Loveland, CO 80537

Another great swim beach awaits in Loveland, Colorado, located a little north of Denver. You can come for free and enjoy the sun. While you should always watch your children, there’s a little extra peace of mind knowing a lifeguard is on duty as well. You can find snacks for sale, bathrooms, and picnic areas. Make sure to check here for closures, as they are experiencing shortages in lifeguards/staffing.

Lakes in the Mountains of Colorado

Twin Lakes – Near Leadville

Located in Twin Lakes, CO

Twin lakes with mountains in background in Leadville

Enjoy breathless scenery as you enjoy these two glacial lakes. Located in a small, unincorporated town of Twin Lakes (near Leadville, CO), you can take the kids to enjoy this fresh outdoor, mountain air. Take a dip in the water if you’d like 🥶 , though you’ll stay much warmer enjoying the view.

Green Mountain Reservoir – Heeney

Heeney Marina- 151 CO Rd 1798 Silverthorne, CO 80498

Green mountain reservoir in Heeney

Photo used with permission. Photo Credit: @twowheelinkooks on IG (go give them a follow!). Check out their accounts @samhittle and @ardenwilliams as well.

We go to Steamboat Springs often, and every time we drive right past Green Mountain Reservoir in Heeney, Colorado. It’s amazing how secluded it looks, even though it’s conveniently located right off the highway. From I-70, head north on highway 9 past the Silverthorne area for about a half-hour. We always note how beautiful it is.

At Green Mountain Reservoir, you can camp (rustic style- no hook ups), you can swim, paddle board, fish, boat, bike, rent a Jeep…there’s plenty for the whole family.

Lake Dillon (Dillon Reservior) – Frisco

Frisco Marina- 267 Marina Rd, Frisco, CO 80443

kids playing at Lake Dillon

Located up in the mountains of Colorado, Lake Dillon can be seen right from I-70. The scenery is stunning, as many of the lakes in Colorado. A few years ago I was running a half-marathon, and about 9 miles in I was feeling worn out. As I turned a corner on the route, I was all of a sudden running with Lake Dillon nearby in view, and all of a sudden I was filled with an all new energy. The scene is invigorating, sitting against mountain backdrops and surrounded by evergreens.

things to do in summer in Breckenridge lake dillon beach

You can’t swim in Lake Dillon. You can walk around the lake on provided trails. There are plenty of spaces to drop down and get right at the shoreline to skip rocks and relax. You can also head to the Frisco Marina where there is a beach area. Rent a kayak, canoe, or fishing boat if you’d like to be on the water.

You may also like Great Hikes for Kids in Breckenridge.

Steamboat Lake – Near Steamboat Springs

61105 Rcr 129, Clark, CO 80428

steamboat lake state park paddleboarding
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

You can swim in Steamboat Lake if you choose to. Be warned, you’re at over 8,000 feet above sea level, so it’ll be chilly! You can boat on the lake as well, though all boats must be inspected first. You can also rent a boat through Steamboat Lake Marina. The lake is open during the summer months, though you can still visit the state park and hook up your RV in the winter to camp out. Winter brings snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and ice-fishing for recreation.

There are a lot of fun things to do at Steamboat Lake State Park while you’re there. Pack a picnic and enjoy the whole day!

Steamboat Lake is located within Steamboat Lake State Park, which is a little over a half-hour north of Steamboat Springs. Drive towards Hahn’s Peak, into what is technically Clark, Colorado.

Check out other beautiful lakes in Steamboat while you visit.

You may also like this Complete Guide to Steamboat Springs.

Grand Lake – Grand Lake

Grand Lake Marina- 1132 Lake Ave Grand Lake, CO80447

Grand lake where to stay feature image

Grand Lake is a very popular summer destination. It’s a great, relaxing, natural way to enjoy the mountains of Colorado. Grand Lake is the largest and deepest natural lake that Colorado has. It’s a great family destination, with plenty to do around town, and lots of fun to have on the lake. Swimming is allowed. You can also rent a boat at Grand Lake Marina, or stay non-motorized with a kayak, canoe, SUP, or paddleboat. All perfect activities for kids in Grand Lake!

If you’re in Grand Lake, you must check out the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Find the perfect place to stay in Grand Lake for a great visit!

Lakes in the Colorado Springs Area

Crystal Creek Reservoir – Cascade

Located along Pikes Peak Highway

Crystal Creek Reservoir in Cascade
Crystal Creek Reservoir, Cascade CO, photo by Jeremy Taylor

If you’re heading up to Pike’s Peak, this is the perfect place to stop, relax, maybe take some family pictures, and enjoy. Cascade isn’t far from Colorado Springs, where there is plenty more fun for the family.

You can’t swim in Crystal Creek Reservoir, but you can bring your own non-motorized equipment like a kayak or canoe. You can also take the kids on a little adventure on the hiking trail that follows the shoreline. Watch for deer, bighorn sheep, and birds as you explore.

Other awesome things to do in Colorado Springs with Kids.

Lakes in Southern Colorado

Lake Nighthorse – Durango

1795 C.R. 210 Durango, CO 81303

Not only does Lake Nighthorse in Durango have a great beach area, but it also has a fun inflatable water park area in the water. The new Aqua Park (inflatable, floating water park) is open from 10am to 6pm and is incredibly fun for the kids. This beach area also has a lifeguard (woo hoo!) Go here for a LIVE CAM view of Lake Nighthorse.

Lakes in Colorado

Who knew there were so many refreshing, albeit sometimes chilly, lakes to play at in Colorado! When the summer days are hot and the kids need to get out, check out one of these awesome lakes in Colorado to play at.

Things to make your day at the lake fun and safe!

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17 thoughts on “13 Awesome Lakes You Can Play At in Colorado”

  1. Ohhh I just love Colorado! Thanks for the wide geography you provide. Perfect for those of us road tripping (even without the littles!) Love the lakes in the mountain. This is great. Thank you!

  2. We are hoping to travel through Colorado on a road trip in the fall. Great to know there are so many Great Lakes to enjoy before the snow flies. A great selection of lakes in different areas around Colorado.

  3. I loved reading your article about the best lakes to play at in Colorado! Summers in Colorado are the best – cool mountain water, sunny days, and clear skies. Thanks for sharing all of your favorites!

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