Places To Paddle Board Near Denver

Enjoy time on the water paddle boarding at these seven locations in Colorado.

By Joanna Lee
Explore Ambassador

Colorado is not often thought of as a place with a lot of water, but there are actually many lakes and reservoirs that are open to paddle boarding! Please note: All of the below locations require you to wear a personal flotation device.


Standley Lake

Located in Jefferson County, Standley Lake Regional Park is only 20 minutes outside of Denver. It is a 3,000-acre park filled with fun activities for the whole family, including deluxe camping rentals. It is open to paddle boarding May 1 through Sept. 30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It costs $10 per day or $200 for an annual pass. There are paddle boards available to rent for $20 per hour.

Standley Lake provides drinking water for multiple nearby cities, so there are some unique rules for paddle boarding here. Firstly, you must enter through the main entrance to go paddle boarding. This is because you have to visit the spray station before entering the water. Any and all paddle craft must be sprayed in accordance with aquatic nuisance species regulations prior to launching to prevent water contamination. You are also not allowed to swim off your paddle board and should ultimately minimize the time you are in the water, if you happen to fall off your board. This rule applies to dogs as well, who are allowed but must be leashed. A perk to Standley Lake is that motorized watercraft are prohibited, so you will not deal with much traffic on the water. In addition, the views of the Boulder Flatirons are expansive and beautiful. 


Boulder Reservoir

Boulder Reservoir, located in Boulder, Colo., is about 40 minutes north of Denver. If you wish to bring your own paddle board, you must purchase an annual boat permit to use it here. Permits go on sale in February and are in very high demand, usually selling out by April. An annual boat permit for a small watercraft/paddle board is $55. In addition, there is an $11 per person daily entry fee for the park. If you are renting a paddle board, you do not need the annual boat permit but still must pay the daily entry fee. Rentals are available for $25 per hour.

This 700-acre multiuse reservoir — used for recreation, drinking water and irrigation — provides vast views of the Boulder Flatirons. There is plenty of beach space to enjoy a relaxing day with the family and nearby trails if you want to add in a hike. Don’t forget to head into Boulder to end your day with a delicious dinner at one of the many fantastic restaurants along Pearl Street.


Union Reservoir

Union Reservoir is located 30 minutes north of Denver in Longmont, Colo. This beautiful reservoir is a popular spot to spend a summer day. It is over 700 acres of water, created by a glacier and, therefore, is a completely naturally-made lake. It is open to both nonmotorized and motorized watercraft. There is also an off-leash dog beach, a swimming area and covered picnic areas available for rent. There is a daily vehicle fee of $10 on weekdays and $12 on summer weekends. In addition, if you bring your own paddle board, there is a $5 watercraft fee. If you don’t own a paddle board you can rent one for $25 per hour. Season parking and watercraft passes are also available. The views of Longs Peak at this distance are spectacular! 


Bear Creek Lake Park

Bear Creek Lake Park is located 20 minutes from Denver in Lakewood, Colo. It has multiple lakes and is open year-round to paddle boards. The park is 2,600 acres, with room for a variety of activities. It would be a great place to spend a whole day as a family. There are a variety of hiking and mountain biking trails, an archery range, guided horseback riding stables, picnic areas, a lake for motorized water sports and two other lakes for recreation. There are also campsites for rent. There is a daily fee of $10 per vehicle or a season pass for $80. Paddle boards are available for rental for $25 per hour.

Big Soda Lake is the most popular place to paddle board in the park. It is the biggest lake and has a large beach if you want a place to spend the day. There is a second lake called Bear Creek Reservoir that is much smaller but generally less busy. Both lakes have great views of the surrounding foothills.


Chatfield Reservoir

Chatfield Reservoir is located 40 minutes south of Denver in Chatfield State Park. It has multiple lakes, all open to paddle boards. You must pass an aquatic nuisance species inspection prior to getting on the water, similar to at Standley Lake. The inspection center is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a daily fee of $10 per vehicle. Paddle boards are available to rent for $25 per hour.

This is one of the most popular recreation areas near Denver. It covers almost 4,000 acres, with the water making up 1,400 acres. In addition to paddle boarding, the state park has many other recreation options. There are hiking and mountain biking trails, paved trails, boating, hot air balloon rentals, Jet Ski rentals, horse stables with horses available for lease, RV campsites, tent campsites, large group campsites, picnic areas, an off-leash dog area, fishing and a variety of wildlife and flowers.


Cherry Creek Reservoir

Cherry Creek Reservoir is located 35 minutes outside of Denver near Aurora, Colo., in Cherry Creek State Park. There is a daily fee of $11 per vehicle. This large reservoir, at 880 acres, is open April 1 until November.

The state park, while smaller, offers many of the same recreation options as Chatfield State Park. There are 12 miles of easy hiking trails, an off-leash dog area, camping, Jet Skiing, boating, fishing and horseback riding.


Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir is the farthest option from Denver, about an hour away in Fort Collins, Colo., but worth the extra drive time. The reservoir is 6.5 miles long and is open to nonmotorized and motorized watercraft. There is a daily entry fee of $10 per vehicle or a season pass for $100 to $130. Horsetooth Reservoir is the third-busiest reservoir in the state of Colorado. It is estimated to get 1 million visitors a year. Plan to arrive early or parking may be full, especially on summer weekends.

There is a paddle craft only section, in the Satanka Bay Cove, from May 27 to Sept. 5. The entire reservoir has stunning views of the surrounding foothills. There are campsites available for rent, bouldering and rock climbing nearby, as well as miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. 

Related Articles

Always be ready to go with the Go Out{side} Email Newsletter

Don’t miss out on new Go Out{side} news, tips and tricks.