15 Best Spots for Paddle Boarding Denver
If you're seeking a fun and relaxing way to enjoy both the water and the scenery around the Mile High City, paddle boarding in Denver is an excellent option.
Denver boasts many beautiful spots for paddle boarding, catering to all preferences, from calm lakes and scenic reservoirs to flowing rivers. Whether you need paddle board rentals, lessons, and tours or prefer to bring your own board for exploration, Denver has it all. Here are 15 of the best spots for paddle boarding in Denver, complete with helpful information to plan your adventure.
1. Cherry Creek Reservoir
Nestled within the bustling energy of the Denver area, Cherry Creek Reservoir offers a dynamic paddle boarding Denver experience. Its vast, open waters buzz with a diverse array of watercraft, making it a social hub for water enthusiasts.
Ideal for paddlers of all skill levels, the reservoir provides both east and west ramps for easy launch. The picturesque backdrop and proximity to urban amenities add to its charm, making it a popular choice for a day filled with adventure and relaxation.
- Travel Time: Visitors can access the park from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. But motorized watercraft are permitted on the 880-acre lake, so visitors should go there before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. The entrance fee is about $9 to $11 per vehicle.
- Water Type: The Cherry Creek Reservoir is a man-made body of water that provides a great environment for paddle boarding.
- Skill Level: The reservoir is suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced paddle boarders.
- Launch Point: You can launch your paddle board from either the east or west ramp. Both ramps provide easy access to the water.
- Amenities: Paddle board rentals are available if you don't have your own equipment. The reservoir is also conveniently located near shops and restaurants, so you can grab a bite to eat after your paddle boarding session.
- Cost: There is a $9 daily admission fee to access the reservoir.
- Unique Feature: The Cherry Creek Reservoir is often busy with a variety of watercraft, making it a great spot for social paddling. You'll have the opportunity to meet and interact with other water sports enthusiasts.
2. Aurora Reservoir
Aurora Reservoir, a serene getaway, surprises visitors with its sandy beaches reminiscent of a coastal retreat. The reservoir is perfect paddle boarding Denver spot for both beginners enjoying the calm waters and intermediates looking for a bit more challenge.
With the added convenience of equipment rentals from Surf ‘Sup Colorado and the refreshing, cool waters, it's a perfect spot to escape the Aurora heat and indulge in a day of paddle boarding bliss.
When: The Aurora Reservoir is open for paddle boarding from May to September. The timings are as follows:
- May and July: 5 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
- June and August: 5:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- September: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Travel Time: It's a short drive from Denver, making it a convenient option for residents of the capital city.
- Water Type: The Aurora Reservoir features sandy beaches, providing an uncharacteristic beach-like experience in between paddles out into the refreshing waters.
- Skill Level: The reservoir is suitable for beginners to intermediate paddle boarders.
- Launch Point: Paddle boards can be launched from designated areas around the reservoir.
- Cost: There is a $10 entrance fee and a $10 watercraft access fee to access the reservoir.
- Unique Feature: Aurora Reservoir has sandy beaches that offer a large body of water to explore.
3. Bear Creek Lake Park
Located in the heart of Denver’s metropolitan area, Bear Creek Lake Park is a tranquil oasis. Home to Big Soda Lake and Bear Creek Lake, it caters to paddlers seeking a peaceful experience away from motorized watercraft.
- Travel Time: The park is open for paddle boarding seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- Water Type: The park features two bodies of water: Bear Creek Lake and Big Soda Lake. Big Soda Lake is a popular spot for paddle boarding.
- Skill Level: Big Soda Lake is ideal for beginners or those who prefer a tranquil experience.
- Launch Point: You can launch your paddle board from various points within the park.
- Rental services for paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats are usually available during the summer season.
- The park offers both free and paid parking options, as well as year-round and seasonal bathrooms.
- Food and drinking water are also available within the park.
- Additionally, there are boat ramps available for easy water access.
- Cost: There is a $10 entrance fee to access the park.
- Unique Feature: The unique feature of Bear Creek Lake Park is the presence of two water bodies, including a non-motorized lake. This offers a variety of experiences for paddle boarders.
4. Berkeley Lake
Berkeley Lake stands as a natural haven amidst Denver's urban sprawl. Its welcoming waters are open to all levels of paddle boarders. The lake's north shore provides a perfect launch point, immersing visitors in a peaceful setting that contrasts the city's hustle and bustle.
Berkeley Lake is a true gem for those seeking a quick, refreshing paddle in a picturesque, natural environment.
- Travel Time: Berkeley Lake is located in Denver, Colorado. The exact travel time would depend on your starting point within Denver.
- Water Type: Berkeley Lake is a freshwater lake.
- Skill Level: Berkeley Lake is suitable for all levels of paddle boarders.
- Launch Point: The north shore of Berkeley Lake is a common launch point for paddle boarding.
- Amenities: Berkeley Lake is set in an urban park environment. The park offers numerous grassy and shady areas for picnics and a trail around the lake that is frequently used by walkers and joggers.
- Cost: Paddle boarding at Berkeley Lake is free.
- Unique Feature: Berkeley Lake is a natural refuge in the city. It is one of five bodies of water in Denver that welcome hand-launched boating, such as canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards.
5. Chatfield Reservoir
A hub for water sports enthusiasts, Chatfield Reservoir in the Denver area is a paradise for paddle boarders. Its 1,500 acres offer vast spaces to explore, catering to all skill levels.
With a plethora of rental options available, including the notable 5280 Paddle Sports, the reservoir is a prime destination for those looking to immerse themselves in a variety of water activities in one scenic location.
Travel Time: The reservoir is open from sunrise to sunset.
- From 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in May and July
- From 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. in June and August
- From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in September.
- Water Type: Reservoir with cool water ideal for paddle boarding.
- Skill Level: Suitable for all levels of paddle boarders.
- Launch Point: There are multiple ramps available for launching.
- Amenities: The reservoir offers amenities such as rentals and paddle sports. Other amenities include boat ramps, picnic areas, camping, restrooms, a swim beach, a marina, and hiking trails.
- Cost: There is a $10 entrance fee and a $10 watercraft access fee.
- Unique Feature: The reservoir is popular for various water sports. It’s a sizable reservoir with 1,500 acres to explore. It also has uncharacteristically sandy beaches.
6. Sloan’s Lake
Nestled within Denver, Sloan's Lake is a picturesque location that offers a unique and thrilling urban paddle boarding experience. The stunning views of the towering mountains and the bustling city skyline are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Whether you're an experienced paddler or a beginner, the lake is accessible from sunrise to sunset, making it an ideal spot to squeeze in a quick paddle without venturing too far. As the sun begins to set, the lake transforms into a magical sight, and sunset paddles are highly recommended to witness the beauty of nature. The lake's vibrant and lively atmosphere adds to the overall charm of the place, making it a must-visit destination.
- When: You can paddle board from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, from April 1 – Oct. 21.
- Where: The lake is located at 4700 W. Byron Pl., Denver.
- Cost: The required season permit for Colorado residents is $49. For non-residents, it's $97.
- Travel Time: Since Sloan's Lake is located in Denver, the travel time within Denver would depend on your specific location.
- Water Type: Lake with winds and waves.
- Skill Level: Paddle boarding at Sloan's Lake is suitable for all levels.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding is at 4700 W. Byron Pl.
- Amenities: Sloan's Lake offers a sunset paddle by Denver Outdoor Adventure Company. Other amenities include playgrounds, tennis courts, multiple athletic fields, boating, basketball courts, multi-use trails, and picnic areas.
- Unique Feature: Sloan's Lake offers unique views of the mountains on the west side and views of the Denver skyline on the east.
7. Ferril Lake in City Park
Ferril Lake, located in the heart of Denver's City Park, offers a unique paddle boarding experience against a cultural backdrop. The lake's calm waters are ideal for beginners, and its proximity to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science adds an educational twist to your paddle boarding adventure.
It's a perfect spot for those seeking a blend of urban and natural beauty in their outdoor activities.
- Travel Time: Ferril Lake is located in City Park, Denver. The exact travel time would depend on your starting location within Denver.
- Water Type: Ferril Lake is a natural body of inland water. The lake is calm, and paddle boarding there is considered an easy activity.
- Skill Level: Ferril Lake is suitable for beginners.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding is near the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
- Amenities: City Park, where Ferril Lake is located, is Denver's largest municipal park and offers numerous amenities. These include two lakes, a boat house, tennis and handball courts, soccer, football, and baseball/softball fields, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, an interactive fountain, two playgrounds, and the Denver Zoo.
- Cost: Paddle boarding at Ferril Lake is free.
- Unique Feature: Ferril Lake is an urban lake with a cultural backdrop and two bodies of water, Duck Lake and Ferril Lake.
8. Rocky Mountain Lake
Rocky Mountain Lake, a serene spot in Denver, is a haven for paddle boarders of all levels. This lake's natural setting offers a peaceful retreat from the city's noise, making it an ideal location for a tranquil paddle.
Located just a short drive from Berkeley Lake, it provides an opportunity for explorers to experience two beautiful lakes in one day.
- Travel Time: The travel time from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park is approximately 1.5 to 3 hours.
- Water Type: Lake with gentle waves and winds.
- Skill Level: Rocky Mountain Paddle board is ideal for new paddlers looking to paddle basically.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding at Rocky Mountain Lake is likely along the park perimeter.
- Amenities: The park offers a natural setting with amenities, including tennis courts, restrooms, and a playground, but you should be prepared to bring all your equipment.
- Cost: Paddle boarding at Rocky Mountain Lake is free.
- Unique Feature: Rocky Mountain Lake is close to Berkeley Lake, providing an opportunity for dual exploration.
9. Smith Lake at Washington Park
Smith Lake, nestled in Washington Park, one of Denver's oldest parks, offers a picturesque setting for paddle boarding. Its small size and calm waters make it perfect for beginners.
The lake is surrounded by lush greenery, creating a serene environment for paddlers to enjoy a peaceful afternoon on the water. The absence of motorized boats enhances the tranquility, making it a favorite spot for those seeking a gentle introduction to paddle boarding in a charming urban park setting.
- Travel Time: Smith Lake is located in Washington Park, Denver. It's an eight-minute drive, a 30-minute walk, or a quick light rail ride away from the city center.
- Water Type: Smith Lake is a freshwater lake.
- Skill Level: Paddle boarding at Smith Lake is suitable for beginners. There are reviews mentioning that it's easy to learn and enjoy, with lessons available for beginners.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding is near the boathouse.
- Amenities: Washington Park is a scenic park setting with two lakes and a large meadow. It has a more rural, relaxed feel than Denver’s other major urban parks. Its historic structures include a 1911 bathhouse, a 1913 boathouse, and the Eugene Field Cottage.
- Cost: Paddle boarding at Smith Lake is free.
- Unique Feature: Washington Park, where Smith Lake is located, is one of Denver’s oldest parks.
10. Union Reservoir
Union Reservoir is an idyllic spot for paddle boarders seeking a quiet escape. Known for its tranquil waters and less crowded environment, it's a refreshing alternative to the bustling Denver lakes.
The reservoir offers paddle board rentals and unique yoga classes on the water, adding a touch of wellness and serenity to the paddle boarding experience.
- Travel Time: The travel time would depend on your starting location.
- Water Type: Union Reservoir is a freshwater body. It's an outdoor paradise of fresh blue water.
- Skill Level: Union Reservoir can be paddled as a day trip by a strong paddler. Rocky Mountain Paddle board offers beginner instruction, so it's suitable for all skill levels.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding at Union Reservoir is likely at the Rocky Mountain Paddle board location at 461 County Road 26, Longmont, CO.
- Cost: The daily vehicle fee is $10.00, and the daily watercraft fee (which includes paddle boards) is $5.00. Rocky Mountain Paddle board also offers rentals.
- Unique Feature: One unique feature of Union Reservoir is that it offers first-class dispersed walk-in campsites around the reservoir. It's also a popular fishing destination, stocked with Rainbow and Eagle Lake trout each summer.
11. Boulder Reservoir
A short drive from Denver, Boulder Reservoir is a scenic destination for paddle boarders. The reservoir's expansive waters are ideal for all levels, offering the chance to paddle alongside a variety of watercraft. The southwest and southeast beaches serve as perfect launch points, and the reservoir's western edge, a dedicated bird preserve, provides a peaceful and naturalistic paddling environment.
Boulder Reservoir is an ideal location for paddle boarding in Denver, offering a vast water surface with stunning views of the Flatirons. Morning sessions are particularly magical with calmer winds and fewer boats.
- Distance from Denver: Boulder Reservoir is within an hour's drive from Denver.
- Water Type: The water body is a reservoir with calm water and little winds.
- Skill Level: The site is suitable for beginner to intermediate level paddle boarders.
- Launch Point: You can launch your paddle board from either the north shore or the south shore of Boulder Reservoir.
- Amenities: The site offers a range of amenities, including restrooms, showers, picnic areas, camping, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and biking.
- Cost: The park entrance fee is $7 per person.
12. Evergreen Lake
Located about 45 minutes from downtown Denver, Evergreen Lake is a picturesque, pine-framed body of water offering an alpine-like paddle boarding experience. The tranquil waters are suitable for both beginners and advanced paddlers.
The Evergreen Parks and Rec District adds excitement with events like nighttime SUP and sunrise paddling, making it a versatile destination for various paddle boarding Denver adventures.
- Travel Time: It takes about 40-50 minutes to drive from Denver to Evergreen Lake.
- Water Type: Evergreen Lake is an artificially impounded body of water with winds and waves.
- Skill Level: Paddle boarding at Evergreen Lake is suitable for beginners to advanced levels.
- Launch Point: The launch point for paddle boarding is at the Evergreen Lake House.
- Amenities: Evergreen Lake offers nighttime SUP and yoga classes. Other amenities include a hiking trail, fishing, and a variety of water activities.
- Cost: The cost for paddle boarding is $5 per hour for a single stand-up paddle board. A personal watercraft day pass is also available for $10 from Monday to Thursday and $15 from Friday to Sunday.
- Unique Feature: Evergreen Lake is known for its alpine-like setting with a pine-framed lake. It offers a unique experience of seeing elk playing in the water or resting close by, especially during the fall.
13. Standley Lake
In Westminster, Standley Lake presents a unique paddle boarding Denver experience with its dedicated non-motorized area, ensuring a peaceful outing.
The lake's vastness allows for exploration and wildlife viewing, including a chance to spot bald eagles. It's a perfect destination for those seeking a mix of tranquility and natural beauty, with the added convenience of paddle board rentals and camping options.
- Travel Time: Standley Lake is located in Westminster, Colorado, about a 30 minute drive from downtown Denver.
- Water Type: Standley Lake is a freshwater lake.
- Skill Level: Standley Lake is suitable for all levels of paddle boarders. It's a popular spot for paddle boarding, kayaking, and other water activities.
- Launch Point: The main park entrance located at 100th Avenue and Simms Street is the only point where paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, inflatable rafts, or tubes can enter the lake.
- Amenities: Standley Lake offers paddle craft rentals. The area is also known for its bird-viewing opportunities. Other amenities include picnic tables, fire grates, restrooms, and potable water.
- Cost: The cost for paddle boarding at Standley Lake includes a $7 car fee and a $15 paddle pass. The prices may vary, and it's always a good idea to check the latest fees.
- Unique Feature: Standley Lake is a dedicated non-motorized area, making it a peaceful and quiet place for paddle boarding.
14. Clear Creek Whitewater Park
Approximately 30 minutes from Denver, Clear Creek Whitewater Park offers an exhilarating paddle boarding Denveradventure for those seeking a thrill.
The park features challenging rapids and a dynamic river environment, ideal for experienced paddlers. The scenic creek, flowing straight from the mountains, provides a unique setting for a high-energy paddle boarding session.
- Travel Time: The travel time may vary depending on your starting location.
- Water Type: Clear Creek Whitewater Park is indeed a creek.
- Skill Level: The park is suitable for advanced paddlers. The water runs fast and is extremely cold. Requires paddlers proficient in fast-moving, cold water, particularly during high flow season.
- Launch Point: There are various launch points along the creek.
- Amenities: The park offers rapids for a thrilling experience. The course is divided into sections with different experience levels. It has drops and pools, flat, broad, shallow surf waves with huge random boulders, and more extreme surf and wave drops.
- Unique Feature: The park is ideal for experienced paddlers seeking rapids. It is one of Golden’s most unique recreational attractions. The course is built with natural boulders and is one-quarter of a mile of adventurous, splashing fun.
15. South Platte River
The South Platte River offers a diverse paddle boarding experience along its course. The river features Class II waves and various mellow drops, providing an exciting challenge. Starting north of Chatfield Reservoir, this spot is perfect for those looking to combine a paddle boarding Denver adventure with a scenic river journey.
Each of these locations offers a unique experience, from tranquil lakes to adventurous rivers, catering to all levels and preferences of paddle boarding enthusiasts.
- Travel Time: The travel time may vary depending on your starting location.
- Water Type: South Platte River is indeed a river. The water moves along quickly. This section is typically runnable in early spring based on snowmelt-powered flows.
- Skill Level: The Deckers Chutes section of the South Platte River is suitable for intermediate to advanced paddlers.
- Launch Point: There are various launch points along the river. One popular place for kayakers is a 5.4 mile stretch of the South Platte that can be accessed just north of C-470.
- Amenities: The river offers around 6 very short class 2 rapids. There are numerous access points, allowing many put-in and take-out options.
- Cost: There are no fees for drop-in usage.
- Unique Feature: The Deckers Chutes section of the South Platte River is a perfect run for small boats. It's a great stretch to hone your skills, especially for kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who are just getting comfortable with whitewater.
Wrap Up on Paddle Boarding in Denver
The Denver’s diversity of paddle boarding Denver spots offers something for everyone, from tranquil lakes to adventurous rapids. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddler, the Front Range has the perfect spot for you to enjoy the water and the scenery.
Ready to dive into the world of paddle boarding? Check out iROCKER for top-notch gear, accessories and paddle boards, and start your Denver paddle boarding adventure today!