Located in Lakewood, Bear Creek offers many activities for working up a sweat before or after hitting the sand and waves. The beach at Big Soda Lake features a playground and sand volleyball courts, as well as swimming lanes for anyone channeling their inner Michael Phelps. Wakeboarding and water skiing classes are also offered at the park for adventurers of all skill levels and ages. Park fees are $7 per car. For more information, call (303) 987-7000 or visit the park’s website.
2. Chatfield Reservoir
Tried, true and close to the city, Chatfield offers a variety of activities all within a short drive from downtown Denver. The reservoir is large enough to accommodate boaters, swimmers and fishing enthusiasts for a fee of $8 per vehicle. If you tire of the sun and sand, there are trails for hiking and biking, and plenty of covered picnic areas. For more information, call (303) 791-7275, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the park’s website.
Close to Denver, the Aurora reservoir features swimming, fishing and non-motorized boating, as well as sheltered pavilions for picnics and get-togethers. Kids and adults alike also enjoy the AWQUA Lounge, where you can learn about the journey water takes, from the sky all the way to your faucet. A day pass will run you $10 per vehicle, so pile in and make the most of this nearby attraction. Call (303)326-8425 for more information, or go to the website.
4. Lake Pueblo
Located about two hours south of Denver, Lake Pueblo State Park will reward you for your travel time. The park also features a campground if you want to extend your stay. Boating and jet skiing are popular in the reservoir here, and the Rock Canyon Beach gives swimmers a sandy beach to relax on. Kayaks and paddleboards are also permitted, and rentals are available right on the beach. The fee is $7 per car. Call (719) 561-9320, e-mail or check out their website.
5. Jackson Lake
This “oasis of the plains” is about 80 miles northeast of Denver near the town of Orchard. The lake, when full, is 2,700 square acres, providing plenty of room for sailboarding, jet skiing, water skiing, boating and swimming. Camping is readily available so you can spend some quality time near the lake and take in the exquisite wildlife and scenery. For more information, contact the park at (970) 645-2551 or check out their website.
6. Blue Mesa Lake
Near Gunnison, this is the spot if you want to inject some adventure into your beach trip. The water is brisk, but the view of the surrounding mountain ranges from the beach are breathtaking. Boaters, anglers, jet skiers and sailboarders all love coming to Blue Mesa, which offers two marinas, a restaurant, a visitors’ center and camping. There is no entrance fee for the recreation area, but boating fees apply. Call (970) 641-2337 or go to their website for more information.
We may not have access to an ocean or even the great lakes, but there are a number of places to soak in the sun and play in the sand. Whether you want to take a quick break from the heat or set yourself up for a longer stay, you don’t have to leave Colorado to find a good beach.