Even though Colorado is landlocked, it does not lack beaches. In reality, enjoying beach time is one of Colorado’s best things to do.
Colorado has over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, and that does not include the state’s creeks, streams, and rivers. Colorado, of course, provides plenty of opportunities to cool off in cool and refreshing bodies of water during the hot summer months.
But where in Colorado are the best beaches? Continue reading to find out.
When you think of Colorado, you probably think of breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, not beaches. However, Colorado beaches are one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Colorado beaches are genuinely exceptional. However, Colorado beaches are not like those found along the coast.
Consider mountain water that is clean and crisp. There are breathtaking mountain views, pristine coves, and inlets from every angle.
This list of Colorado beaches will provide plenty of adventure and relaxation, whether it’s sunbathing, camping, water sports, or building sandcastles.
Of course, the best time to visit Colorado beaches is in the spring and summer, when temperatures are pleasant but not oppressively hot, and the water is cool and refreshing. Furthermore, many of Colorado’s beaches are located within larger parks, allowing you to spend an entire day exploring everything these protected areas offer.
Top Colorado Beaches
1. Boulder Reservoir
The Boulder Reservoir is one of the largest and most beautiful Colorado beaches. This 700-acre lake was built in the 1950s primarily to provide water to Boulder. While it continues to provide Boulder with potable water, the lake has grown into one of Colorado’s best summer swimming spots.
Although the lake is open all year, most visitors come during the summer season, which runs from mid-April to mid-October. The beach is open until 6 p.m. every day. It’s an excellent place for families because it has a shallow section for the kids and floating platforms in the middle of the lake for sunbathing.
Visitors to the lake can rent pontoon boats, sailboats, stand-up paddleboards from Rocky Mountain Paddleboards, and tanning and swimming. The Boulder Reservoir Loop Trail allows you to access the lake’s fantastic fishing.
Rainbow trout, bass, and other species can be abundant.
You can, of course, walk, run, or bike around the lake.
2. Blue Mesa Reservoir
The Curecanti National Recreation Area, one of the fascinating Colorado beaches managed by the National Park Service since 1965, contains Colorado’s largest body of water, the Blue Mesa Reservoir.
The 29-mile reservoir, along with the Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs, is one of three reservoirs within the recreation area. It was built in the 1960s along the upper Gunnison River. It is home to the largest kokanee salmon fishery in the United States, making it one of the state’s most popular public fishing spots.
Two marinas, boat launches, and various hiking and horseback riding trails are available. During the summer, windsurfing and waterskiing are popular activities, while ice fishing is popular during the winter months. The site has traditional and group campgrounds, as well as boat-in campsites.
3. Medano Creek
One of the highlights of Colorado beaches is the Great Sand Dunes, National Park. Bring a bathing suit because, even in this unlikely location, you will be amazed to witness this creation.
Rivers flow down to the dunes, forming beautiful natural beaches, thanks to snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo mountains. One of the best Colorado beaches is Medano Creek Beach.
When the river is experiencing “surge flow,” which is when snowmelt is at its peak, it is the best time to visit the beach (typically in the spring). This results in a churning (but safe) wave pool that is always fun to swim in.
The water is highest between May and June, which is peak season. Remember that the river is heavily reliant on snowmelt, so don’t expect the same experience every time. The river also tends to dry up by the end of the summer, so plan your visit accordingly.
4. Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park is a park just outside of Littleton, Colorado. The reservoir at Chatfield State Park, one of the lovely Colorado beaches, is a spot to soak up the sun in Colorado. Enjoy the view of the Rocky Mountain foothills as well.
The 1,500-acre Chatfield Reservoir, located just outside of Denver, is a massive body of water that sets the tone for summer activities for Denver residents and visitors.
The reservoir, located on the South Platte River, was built to control flooding after a dam was built. It is now one of Denver’s water sources and a focal point for Chatfield State Park and all of its outdoor activities, including swimming.
The reservoir’s beach area is open all summer, with a wide, sandy beach, grills, and picnic tables. It’s a great place to get away from the city, go for a swim, and be surrounded by nature while still being close to the conveniences of Denver and Littleton.
However, the reservoir is a great place to catch rainbow trout and bass, perch, and catfish. Boaters frequent the lake, and the park contains nearly 200 campsites spread across four campgrounds.
5. Grand Lake
Grand Lake is known as the “Western Gateway” to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most well-known Colorado beaches, and is one of the most popular reasons for visitors to come to this part of Colorado.
However, the town’s namesake can be found nearby: Grand Lake. The Colorado River and snowmelt from the Continental Divide feed the beautiful, deep, and striking Grand Lake, one of Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lakes.
The tranquil 500-acre lake is surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, providing one of the best views in the state. During the summer, the beach at Grand Lake is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in the area.
Locals and visitors can always be found sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding across the glassy surface.
Grand Lake Marina is located on the lake. You can even rent water equipment here. The Grand Lake Yacht Club is one of the world’s highest yacht anchorages.
6. Jackson Lake State Park
Although northeastern Colorado is known for its high desert terrain, it also has some of the best Colorado beaches. Jackson Lake in Jackson Lake State Park is a 2,700-acre reservoir surrounded by vast, sandy beaches that are always bustling with swimmers and sunbathers during the summer.
Visitors to the Jackson Lake State park will find more than 200 campsites and amenities such as toilets, showers, electrical hookups, and a marina, in addition to the reservoir. Those staying overnight will be treated to one of the best evening stars shows in the country, thanks to the park’s designation as an International Dark Skies Park, one of the first in Colorado.
The lake and its beaches remain the park’s most famous feature, providing an ideal aquatic playground for anglers, boaters, and those who enjoy relaxing and cooling off during the summer heat.
The lake has two swimmable beaches and is fed by the South Platte River. The beaches are popular with regulars because of the pleasant temperatures and shallow water.
7. Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir is a large reservoir in Larimer County, Colorado, located above the western edge of Fort Collins on the Dakota Hogback.
The reservoir, built in 1949 as part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado-Big Thompson Project, spans 6.5 miles north to south and is about one mile wide.
It served as a municipal water source for nearby communities like Fort Collins and Greeley and was named after Horsetooth Mountain.
The reservoir, one of the most outstanding Colorado beaches, is a popular outdoor recreation destination during the summer, with over 570,000 visitors each year. Seasonally, a designated swimming beach is maintained, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and shore fishing.
Hiking and mountain biking trails are available along the shoreline, such as the Foothills Trail. Summer is undoubtedly the most popular season to visit Horsetooth Reservoir, so expect the beaches to be packed when the weather warms up.
Arrive early to guarantee a spot, or better yet, arrive the night before.
The South Bay of the reservoir is one of the best places to swim, spend the day, or even spend the night within the protected land. The South Bay Day Use Area and Swim Beach have everything you’ll need for the perfect beach day, from fire rings and picnic tables to outdoor showers and a boat ramp. If you want to spend the night, a nearby campground offers a comfortable place to camp.
Scuba divers will be able to practice their skills at this Colorado beach because the lake has a depth of 200 feet and visibility of up to 10 feet.
8. Ridgway Reservoir
Ridgway State Park, one of the best state parks and Colorado beaches, is located near Telluride and Ouray in the town of Ridgway. On the banks of the Ridgway Reservoir, you’ll discover one of the state’s best beaches.
Ridgway State Park, cut by the Uncompahgre River and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, is a beautiful spot. With 1,030 acres of water, the five-mile reservoir is located within the park. Dutch Charlie and Dallas Creek are the reservoir’s two designated swimming beaches.
Volleyball, waterskiing, sailboarding, paddle boarding, and boating are just a few of the activities available at the beaches.
Fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and even camping are some of the water activities available at the park. Year-round camping is available at Ridgway State Park and yurts with small kitchenettes for rent.
9. Steamboat Lake
Steamboat Lake State Park is located 27 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and is home to the famous Steamboat Lake.
With over 1,000 acres of water for splashing, boating, and swimming, the park’s lake is one of the park’s highlights. In addition, Hahns Peak can be seen from the lake.
The lake is located at an elevation of 8,100 feet, providing stunning mountain views in every direction. The lake is open for recreation from May to the end of October, but it is not open all year. The swimming beach and full-service marina will be hopping with activity at this time of year.
There are hiking trails, picnic areas, and even campgrounds near the lake open year-round, even when the lake is not.
10. Twin Lakes
One thing about Leadville, Colorado, is its elevation. In fact, at more than 10,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest populated town on the continent. But it’s in Leadville; you’ll find Twin Lakes, two glacial lakes set against the backdrop of Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak.
One of the most beautiful Colorado beaches, Twin Lakes, offers some of Colorado’s best swimming and boating. Glacial activity created them, but they were later widened to serve as reservoirs for the Front Range mountains.
The lakes now have 2,700 acres of surface area and two boat ramps, making water activities relatively simple. Paddleboarders, canoeists, and kayakers can all be found in the lake.
Anglers come in droves to catch rainbows and cutthroat trout every year. However, when it comes to summer activities in Twin Lakes, beach access and swimming remain the easiest and most popular.
11. Dillon Reservoir
The Dillon Reservoir, also known as Lake Dillon, one of the most outstanding Colorado beaches, is an artificial freshwater reservoir in Summit County, located between the towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne.
The reservoir was built in 1963 and is managed by Denver Water. Throughout the year, visitors can participate in various outdoor activities at the site, including boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing along the reservoir’s beachfront.
Around the reservoir, there are seven miles of hiking and biking trails and more than 350 campsites with tent and RV hookups. Waterfowl hunting and cross-country skiing are allowed in designated areas. The reservoir hosts various special events throughout the year, including an annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
12. John Martin Reservoir State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park, one of the most beautiful Colorado beaches, is a popular state park located about 17 miles east of Las Animas, Colorado. It is centered on Colorado’s second-largest body of water by capacity, created by the John Marin Dam.
More than 400 species of birds have been documented in the surrounding Bent County area, making the park one of Colorado’s best birdwatching spots. There are plenty of fishing and watersports opportunities during the summer months, including swimming at designated swimming beach areas and catching saugeye, bass, crappie, catfish, perch, and bluegill.
There are 213 tent and RV campsites available for overnight visitors and day-use picnic areas throughout the park. The 4.5-mile Red Shin Hiking Trail, which includes indigenous rock art, historic canals, and a diverse range of native wildlife, is another popular attraction.
13. Ruedi Reservoir
Among the fascinating Colorado beaches, Ruedi Reservoir is an artificial reservoir on the West Slope of the Continental Divide, near the Fryingpan River, about 15 miles from Basalt in the White River National Forest.
The reservoir was built between 1964 and 1968 in the former town of Ruedi and is owned and managed by the US Bureau of Reclamation. During the summer, visitors can enjoy the reservoir’s 102,000-acre water surface by boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, tubing, and sailing.
The Fryingpan River’s downstream area is also regarded as a Gold Medal fishery, with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service protecting endangered fish species since the 1980s. The Ruedi Marina Campground, located at an elevation of over 7,800 feet above sea level, offers overnight camping.
14. Lake Granby
Lake Granby is a 40-mile stretch of the Colorado River shoreline located just outside Granby. Lake Granby is Colorado’s largest storage reservoir, and it welcomes both adventurers and nature enthusiasts. You can cool off in the lake, rent SUP boards, or go fishing for the day.
Arapahoe National Forest and the Indian Peaks Wilderness invite you to spend the night after a long day of recreation on the lake.
15. Cherry Creek State Park
Cherry Creek State Park, one of the most beautiful Colorado beaches, is located just outside Denver. The sandy beach is ideal for relaxing or swimming. There are also grills nearby and plenty of trees to hide from Colorado’s beautiful sunshine. Because there are so many places to camp, Cherry Creek State Park is ideal for a weekend getaway.
Colorado beaches will provide plenty of adventure and relaxation, whether sunbathing, camping, watersports, or sandcastles. From convenient and expansive reservoirs to hidden lakes tucked between mountains, Colorado has a beach suitable for every type of traveler. Coves and inlets with a sense of seclusion.
Have you been to any of the Colorado Beaches? Are there any others you think should be included? Tell me in the comments what you think.
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Suggested reading: Best Alabama Beaches
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