15 Awesome Swimming Lakes 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 swimming lakes in Colorado that the whole family will love.

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Enjoy a sunny afternoon relaxing on the beach or cooling down in the waters of lakes and reservoirs in Colorado. Here are some of the best and most fun lakes to swim in throughout Colorado.

awesome lakes in Colorado pin

Lakes in the Denver Area

1. 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 or and easy hike at Lair O the Bear.

2. Cherry Creek Reservoir

4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

Cherry Creek Reservoir is one of the very popular swimming lakes in Colorado. It’s 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, and 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.

3. 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.

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 this highly rated Stand Up Paddle Board!

4. Aurora Reservoir

5800 S Powhaton Rd, Aurora

boy standing on shoreline of swimming lake in Colorado; Aurora Reservoir

Aurora Reservoir is located in what seems to be an isolated location in Aurora.

When you arrive, you can park and take the sidewalk down to the beach area. It’s a decent size area with a few pavilions and picnic tables. Plus, you can launch your Paddle Board or kayak just a few steps away from the beach area.

We recently took our paddle board out to Aurora Reservoir and had a great time. We loved the clarity of the water and different shades as the depth differed.

As a bonus, there is a huge park just steps away from the beach area.

Check the Aurora Reservoir page for current pricing and hours.

Lakes in Northern Colorado

5. Boulder Reservoir – Boulder

5565 51st Street, Boulder, CO 80301

Boulder Reservoir, sand and water

What makes Boulder one of the best swimming lakes in Colorado?

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 swimmable lake in Colorado is perfect to bring kids to!

6. 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 the beach area of Horsetooth Reservoir. You can also enjoy activities like camping, biking, boating and fishing.

The reservoir has been open over 70 years. It’s a beautiful spot with clear waters and plants growing on the surrounding hills.

There is a designated swim beach to drop your stuff and wade in the water. You can also bring your SUP and enjoy a day out on the lake.

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.

7. 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 from the first weekend in June through Labor Day.

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

8. 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.

9. 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

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.

10. Lake Dillon (Dillon Reservoir) – Frisco

Frisco Marina- 267 Marina Rd, Frisco, CO 80443

people gathering on a swimming lake in Colorado with huge beach area and mountains in background

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.

We’ve been to this lake a few times. Sometimes we have been on the beach, sometimes we’ve walked the trail around, and once we went to the incredible Sapphire Point Lookout. The scene is invigorating, sitting against mountain backdrops and surrounded by evergreens.

Technically, you can’t swim in Lake Dillon. You can walk around the lake on provided trails. And the beach area is fantastic, so I wanted to include it in this list because you can still enjoy water activities on the lake.

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.

We love inflating the paddle board and enjoying a gentle ride deep in the mountains of Colorado.

You may also like Great Hikes for Kids in Breckenridge.

11. Steamboat Lake – Near Steamboat Springs

61105 Rcr 129, Clark, CO 80428

steamboat lake state park paddleboarding

This is in my top 3 of the most beautiful, swimming lakes in Colorado.

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!

We visited in July and while the water was chilly, it was a warm enough day that we enjoyed the water immensely and loved the beach area.

You can boat on the lake as well, and 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.

12. Grand Lake – Grand Lake, CO

Grand Lake Marina- 1132 Lake Ave Grand Lake, CO80447

Grand lake where to stay feature image

Grand Lake is a very popular summer destination, and one of the most popular swimming lakes in Colorado.

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 in Grand Lake. 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!

13. Lake Irwin- Crested Butte

Forest Road 826, Crested Butte

gorgeous lake with mountain scenery, girl paddle boarding

Along with Steamboat Lake, this lake is among my absolute favorite swimming lakes in Colorado. The scenery here is just breathtaking.

Enjoy a beach area to get your toes wet or swim in the refreshing water. There are a few picnic tables and a trail along the lake as well.

Arrive early as the lake gets crowded by late morning. But even then, it’s peaceful and relaxing as everyone just enjoys being on the water.

Check out:

Fun, Easy Hikes in Crested Butte

FREE Things to do in Crested Butte

Crested Butte vs Aspen


Lakes in the Colorado Springs Area

Here’s a reservoir near Colorado Springs, as there really isn’t anything within the city limits where you can swim.

14. Pueblo Reservoir

If you need a swimmable lake in Colorado Springs, you’re out of luck. But you can make the drive down to Pueblo Lake State Park and spend the day on the beach,

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can head to Rock Canyon Swim Beach at Pueblo Reservoir. The beach is located near where the Arkansas river meets the reservoir, so it’s not a beach on the main lake.

The beach is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and dogs are not allowed to join you on the beach.

Lake Pueblo is one of the larger reservoirs at 16 square-miles. Many people make the longer drive to this reservoir seeking more space to put their boats on the water.

If you want to stay a while, there are a few camping areas at Lake Pueblo. You can also visit the fish hatchery, go on a bike ride, jet ski, or hike around.

Other awesome things to do in Colorado Springs with Kids.

Lakes in Southern Colorado

15. 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.

FAQ Swimming Lakes in Colorado

Does Colorado Have Lakes you can Swim in?

As this post shows, there are actually a lot of lakes you can swim in within Colorado! Check out the many reservoirs in the Denver area, or try one of the fresh mountain lakes like Steamboat Lake.

Can I Swim in Twin Lakes Colorado?

Yes, you can swim in Twin Lakes in Colorado. However, it’s going to be quite chilly! Summer will give you your warmest option with water temperatures in the high 60’s.

Lakes in Colorado

Who knew there were so many refreshing, albeit sometimes chilly, swimmable lakes in Colorado! When the summer days are hot and the kids need to get out, head up north to a reservoir, west to a scenic mountain lake, or stay near Denver with a few fun options. To make your summer super fun, check out one of these awesome swimming lakes in Colorado to play at.

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

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  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. Spent this past summer in Colorado and loved it! Next time I go for summer fun I will need to add these lakes to my to do!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Love all these spots! My family loves camping by the lake and these are really good suggestions on where to go to!

  6. I love the lake, So crazy how many you have!! adding them to my travel list for sure!

  7. I was just at twin lakes last year! Way too cold to swim in but man the view was amazing!

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