Boating may seem like a more niche area of outdoor recreation, but if you know how to drive a car, you’ll have no issue learning to operate a rental boat. For a new experience this summer, stop in any of the marinas on this list, and even if you’re a sailing pro, you’ll be amazed by these ten Colorado boating lakes with beautiful views.
At Lake Granby, you’ll find three public boat launches, forty miles of gorgeous shoreline and one of the best mountain beaches in Colorado
. Skilled sailors congregate at the Lake Granby Yacht Club, while others rent pontoon boats from various marinas including Indian Peaks
and Beacon Landing
. Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake are less than ten miles up the road, giving boaters even more reason to plan an outdoorsy weekend getaway
With eight waterfront campgrounds, Turquoise Lake in Leadville is another worthy weekend trip. Via two launch ramps, boaters can experience the crystal-clear water and admire views of 14,000-foot peaks. Mackinaw, rainbow and brook trout draw fishers during all seasons. For even more stunning scenery, visit in the fall when the aspens turn golden. Don’t have a boat? Check out Twin Lakes Boat Tours
, just fifteen miles south.
Thirty minutes north of Steamboat Springs lies Steamboat Lake State Park, home to boating and more outdoor recreation. It's seldom crowded, so visitors can enjoy clean facilities, peaceful solitude and the wide expanse of the 1,053-acre reservoir. Rent a pontoon boat from the Steamboat Lake Marina
, equipped with a gas grill for a memorable picnic on the water.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
As the state’s largest body of water, Blue Mesa Reservoir is not only one of the best places to paddleboard in Colorado
, but it's a prime boating destination, too. At twenty miles long, there’s plenty to explore and experience. Angling is a popular pastime, as Blue Mesa is the nation’s largest Kokanee salmon fishery. Book a guided fishing trip or rent a boat from Elk Creek and Lake Fork Marinas
, then head to any of the three boat ramps open this season
The 800-acre lake at Trinidad Lake State Park draws southern Colorado boaters, along with visitors from all over the state. Unlike many of the destinations on this list, Trinidad Lake remains open late into the year, closing December 1. Unfortunately, without an on-site marina, this isn’t the best spot for renters. But alongside boating, park activities include archery, hiking, horseback riding and more fun ways to fill a summer afternoon.
Autumn colors on the shores of Dillon Reservoir.
Backdropped by mountains in beautiful Summit County, Dillon Reservoir is a boater’s paradise. It holds 3,300 surface acres and 26 miles of shoreline to wow visitors, many of whom rent their crafts. Frisco Bay Marina
provides full-day rentals, while Dillon Marina
offers hourly rates on both pontoon boats and sailboats. Consider spending a weekend here, as nearby mountain towns and one of the state’s best biking paths
are also worth experiencing.
Chatfield Reservoir is the closest lake to Denver in this guide. While Chatfield Marina
is often bustling with renters, it’s easy to find seclusion with 1,500 surface acres to explore. Boaters can round out their weekend itinerary with a swim beach, off-leash dog park, miles of biking and hiking trails, and one of the best campgrounds near Denver
Given its placement at 8,000 feet above sea level, Vallecito Reservoir is a surprisingly large body of water. It’s a beloved destination among southwest Colorado boaters, as well as visitors who rent fishing and pontoon boats from the Vallecito Marina
. Charming eateries, cabins and campgrounds dot the shore, and a gravel boat ramp provides access to water activities. Cast lines for pike and trout, or enjoy a cool dip while taking in forest and mountain views.
Another boating lake near Denver, Boyd Lake in northern Colorado is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s less popular than other metropolitan boating areas like Chatfield State Park and Horsetooth Reservoir, providing secluded recreation. Collect your pontoon or fishing boat rental from the Boyd Lake Marina
, lounge on multiple sandy beaches and find more family fun at this must-visit state park.
Taylor Park Reservoir
Taylor Park Reservoir is perhaps the most remote spot on this list, but rewards those who go off the beaten path. It’s tucked away in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, about an hour east of Crested Butte and an hour west of Buena Vista. From either direction, a scenic drive leads to the Taylor Park Marina
, offering half- and full-day boat rentals. To extend your visit, book a cabin at the Taylor Park Trading Post