Outdoors

Get Outside: Ten Peaceful Places to Paddleboard in Colorado

Still waters and gorgeous views at Twin Lakes.
Still waters and gorgeous views at Twin Lakes. Unsplash/Holly Mandarich
With local temperatures predicted to reach the high 90s this weekend, places to stay cool in Denver are sure to be busy. Thankfully, there are plenty of nearby swim beaches, water parks, tubing spots and picturesque destinations that are perfect for paddle sports.  

Colorado abounds in outdoor recreation, but few activities are as chill as stand-up paddleboarding. Sure, there are those who hit whitewater rapids, but the water is calm and the vibe is mellow at these ten paddleboarding spots:

Twin Lakes
South of Leadville
For dramatic mountain views, go paddleboarding at Twin Lakes. Located just south of Leadville, these amazing lakes are surrounded by hiking trails, campgrounds and views of 14er peaks, including Colorado’s tallest mountain, Mount Elbert. Snag a board from Twin Lakes SUP & Cycle, which includes a dry bag and K9 PFD with every rental, so even your pup can join in on the fun.

Gross Reservoir
Boulder
Atop Flagstaff Mountain, you can explore fourteen miles of beautiful shorelines surrounded by granite rock formations, pine forests and views of the Continental Divide. Given the high elevation, be sure to dress in layers and research weather conditions before you go. Rentals are available at Whitewater Tubing & Recreation in Boulder, along with Golden River Sports in Golden.

Vallecito Lake
Bayfield
Several campgrounds and mountain lodges dot the shores of Vallecito Lake, a scenic area twenty miles northeast of Durango. Take a trip to the Rocky Mountain General Store for a six-pack and picnic essentials, then rent your paddleboard from the Vallecito Marina. You’ll be set for a relaxing afternoon in one of Colorado’s most stunning valleys.

Evergreen Lake
Evergreen
If you live in Denver, you don’t have to travel far to experience some of the state’s best paddleboarding, and Evergreen Lake offers a gorgeous, serene escape. Evergreen Park and Recreation District offers board rentals and hosts various events, including sunrise SUP yoga, nighttime paddling, and a clinic for beginners.

Meridian Lake
Crested Butte
Meridian Lake is a long, narrow and natural body of water in Crested Butte. Its incredible scenery and proximity to town make it a popular destination during warm-weather months. Wildflowers surround the lake in the summer, followed by golden aspens in the fall. To reach the lake, a short but strenuous hike is required, meaning you’ll want an inflatable paddleboard. Visit Wheelies and Waves Adventure Co. for your rental.
Paddleboarding on Dillon Reservoir.
Unsplash/Holly Mandarich
Dillon Reservoir
Frisco
Just off I-70, Dillon Reservoir is easy to access and offers 27 miles of scenic shorelines. Along the perimeter of the reservoir lies one of Colorado’s best bike paths, and although it's surrounded by snowcapped peaks and campgrounds, plenty of amenities are available in nearby mountain towns. Rent from Frisco Bay Marina, and after returning your board, you can lounge on the sandy beach.

South Catamount Reservoir
Colorado Springs
At the base of Pikes Peak lies South Catamount Reservoir, which many bypass on their drive up the famed fourteener. But the area is well worth a stop, with breathtaking views and plenty of wildlife. However, while the waters are generally calm, snowmelt and its location at 9,200 feet above sea level make the water quite frigid. Stay afloat and pick up your board from ATC Adventure Rentals.

Grand Lake
Enjoy the morning mountain air on Grand Lake, the largest and deepest natural lake in Colorado. Visit Grand Lake Marina for a cup of coffee at the lakeside cafe, then rent your paddleboard next door. The peaceful early hours of the day are best here. Then cross another item off your summer bucket list by driving Trail Ridge Road into nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Gunnison
Another record-setter, Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. Set within the Curecanti National Recreation Area, it’s nearly twenty miles long and offers an incredible 96 miles of shoreline to explore. Other outdoor activities include hiking, fishing and boating, and hundreds of waterfront campsites are available. Get your rental from the Elk Creek or Lake Fork Marinas.

Horsetooth Reservoir
Fort Collins
A quick fifteen-minute drive from downtown Fort Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir is a popular summer destination. Note that motorized boats are permitted on the water, so certain areas can be choppy and more difficult to navigate. If you’re a beginner, stick to Satanka Cove on the north end, where only paddle sports are allowed. Rentals and lessons from Paddle Board @ The Comedy Overlook are just a short walk away.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.