When it comes to lakes near Denver, Colorado, there is no shortage of stunning options for outdoor enthusiasts and travelers alike. The great outdoors of Colorado has a lot to offer, with activities such as boating, angling, taking a dip and trekking all possible. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the most stunning lakes in and around Denver that are ideal for your next outdoor adventure.

You can expect to learn about popular destinations such as Blue Mesa Reservoir with its abundant fishing options, or Lake Granby and Grand Lake which offer expansive waters surrounded by natural beauty. For those looking for something closer to the city, Sloan’s Lake and Aurora Reservoir serve as urban oases with free public access. Additionally, adventurous hikers can find breathtaking views at Rocky Mountain National Park Lakes Hike or immerse themselves in remote wilderness settings at Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes.

So whether you’re a local or just visiting the Denver area, get ready to discover an array of unforgettable experiences at these remarkable lakes near Denver Colorado.

Table of Contents:

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Blue Mesa Reservoir

Colorado’s largest lake, Blue Mesa Reservoir, is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. At the base of the majestic San Juan Mountains, Blue Mesa Reservoir beckons outdoor adventurers with its myriad activities and picturesque views.

Boating with a view

Get ready to hit the water. Blue Mesa Reservoir is perfect for boating, kayaking, and jet skiing. With picturesque mountain backdrops, you’ll be sure to capture some Instagram-worthy photos.

Fishing galore

Calling all fishing enthusiasts. The Blue Mesa Reservoir provides a multitude of aquatic life, boasting brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Head over to the nearby Elk Creek Campground for prime fishing spots along the Gunnison River shoreline.

  • Picnic areas: Take a break and enjoy a meal at one of the designated picnic sites around the reservoir.
  • Hiking trails: Explore nearby trails within the Curecanti National Recreation Area for a chance to spot local wildlife and admire stunning views of Colorado’s lakes and mountains.
  • Pontoon boats: Rent a pontoon boat from one of the on-site marinas, such as Elk Creek Marina, for a fun day out on the water with family or friends.

At Blue Mesa Reservoir, you can enjoy a wide range of activities from exploring nature to simply taking in the beautiful views. Don’t miss out on this Colorado gem.

Lake Granby and Grand Lake

Located in northern Colorado, both Lake Granby and Grand Lake offer impressive acreage for various recreational activities. With 7,000 acres at your disposal on Lake Granby alone, visitors can enjoy boating, swimming, and jet skiing while taking in breathtaking scenery.

Expansive lakes ideal for numerous water-based activities

  • Boating: Sail across the vast waters of these beautiful lakes with a rented boat or bring your own to explore the shoreline.
  • Fishing: Cast your line into well-stocked waters teeming with rainbow trout and other fish species native to Colorado’s lakes.
  • Jetskiing & Watersports: Get an adrenaline rush as you zip around on a jetski or try out other exciting water sports like wakeboarding and tubing.

Beautiful natural surroundings perfect for relaxation

The stunning landscapes surrounding Lake Granby and Grand Lake make them ideal destinations for those seeking tranquility amidst nature. Take advantage of nearby hiking trails within the Rocky Mountain National Park, go birdwatching along the shores or simply relax by the water’s edge with a picnic basket full of local delicacies from nearby towns such as Estes Park or Winter Park. These two scenic lakes close to Denver are sure to bring a feeling of rejuvenation and restoration after your stay.

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Chatfield State Park & Cherry Creek State Park Reservoirs

Looking for a refreshing escape near downtown Denver? Check out Chatfield State Park and Cherry Creek State Park Reservoirs. These two Colorado parks offer comfortable swimming conditions and easy access from the city.

Water Activities and More

Both parks offer plenty of water activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming. Experience the great outdoors with miles of horseback riding trails or set up camp for an exciting overnight stay.

Fishing Fun

Bring your rod and reel for a chance to catch some rainbow trout. The South Platte River runs through both reservoirs, providing ample opportunities to catch rainbow trout and other fish.

So whether you’re a swimmer, boater, angler, or land lover, Chatfield State Park and Cherry Creek State Park Reservoirs have something for everyone. Come see for yourself.

Eleven Mile State Park Fishery

If you’re an angler looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the Denver area, Eleven Mile State Park is the perfect destination for you. With its stunning landscapes and outstanding fishery, this park offers a variety of outdoor activities to satisfy any nature lover’s cravings.

Top-notch angling experiences amid peaceful environments

Eleven Mile State Park offers anglers a wealth of chances to snag rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and other prized catches along its 5 miles of South Platte River shoreline. Whether you prefer fly-fishing or bait casting, this park has something for everyone.

Home to kokanee salmon populations alongside other prized fish species

  • Kokanee Salmon: These landlocked sockeye salmon are known for their vibrant red color during spawning season and can be found in the deeper parts of the reservoir.
  • Rainbow Trout: A favorite among anglers due to their fighting spirit and delicious taste, rainbow trout thrive in the cold waters at Eleven Mile Reservoir.
  • Cutthroat Trout: As Colorado’s state fish, cutthroat trout are highly sought after by local fishermen. They can be found throughout the park’s waterways but tend to congregate near underwater structures like rocks and fallen trees.

In addition to fishing opportunities, outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, and camping are also available at Eleven Mile State Park. Visitors to Colorado can find an abundance of activities and breathtaking views at Eleven Mile State Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park Lakes Hike

If you’re up for an unforgettable outdoor adventure, the Rocky Mountain National Park lakes hike is a must-try experience. This exhilarating journey takes you through steep rugged canyons and rewards you with breathtaking views of clear-blue lakes.

Adventurous Hike Through Rugged Terrain

The trail starts at the Bear Lake Trailhead and leads hikers up to three stunning alpine lakes: Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. The challenging yet rewarding trek covers approximately 3.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 600 feet. Along the way, hikers will encounter beautiful wildflowers during springtime and vibrant fall foliage in autumn months.

Breathtaking Views of Clear-Blue Lakes

  • Nymph Lake: Known for its picturesque lily pads floating on crystal-clear waters surrounded by towering pine trees.
  • Dream Lake: A serene spot perfect for taking a break or enjoying a picnic while admiring its sparkling turquoise waters reflecting nearby peaks.
  • Emerald Lake: The final destination offers awe-inspiring panoramic views of rocky cliffs surrounding this deep blue gem nestled within Colorado’s majestic mountainscape.

In addition to exploring these captivating alpine lakes, visitors have ample opportunities to witness Colorado’s rich biodiversity as they traverse through various ecosystems along their journey inside this iconic national park. So lace up your hiking boots and embark on this thrilling adventure that showcases some of Colorado’s most spectacular natural beauty.

lakes near denver colorado

Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes

Looking for a remote escape from the hustle and bustle of the Denver area? Look no further than the picturesque lakes of Mount Zirkel Wilderness area, located off Highway 50. These hidden gems offer a serene retreat for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in Colorado’s unspoiled beauty.

Unspoiled Beauty and Outdoor Activities

With over 160 miles of trails and numerous alpine lakes, Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area provides ample opportunities for hiking, backpacking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The untouched nature surrounding these hidden gems offers a serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts looking to get away from it all.

Scenic Drives and Local Wildlife

Take a drive along the breathtaking Highway 50 Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway to reach Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes. This route will lead you through stunning landscapes that showcase Colorado’s diverse topography – from rolling hills and lush forests to rugged mountain peaks. Keep an eye out for the majestic elk, deer, and even black bears that roam this route.

  • Gilpin Lake: Surrounded by towering peaks and wildflower meadows during summer months; perfect spot for picnicking or camping overnight. Learn more about Gilpin Lake.
  • Mica Lake: Known for its shimmering waters reflecting the surrounding mountains, Mica Lake is a popular destination for fishing and photography enthusiasts. Learn more about Mica Lake.
  • Three Island Lake: This secluded lake offers a peaceful retreat where visitors can enjoy solitude while taking in the stunning views of the San Juan Mountains. Learn more about Three Island Lake.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or simply seeking solace in nature, Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes offer unforgettable experiences amidst Colorado’s pristine landscapes. Gather your supplies and embark on a journey to uncover the beauty of Three Island Lake.

Key Takeaway: 

The Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes, located off Highway 50 near Denver, offer a remote escape for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in Colorado’s unspoiled beauty. With over 160 miles of trails and numerous alpine lakes, visitors can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing and wildlife viewing while taking in the stunning views of the San Juan Mountains.

Hanging Lake Natural Wonder

Located in the heart of Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake is a must-see natural wonder teeming with migratory birds and unique geological features. This scenic destination offers various aquatic sports and unforgettable experiences for travelers exploring Colorado’s diverse landscape offerings.

Geological Marvel Surrounded by Lush Greenery

The stunningly transparent, azure-hued waters of Hanging Lake are nourished by the cascading Bridal Veil Falls, an alluring sight that draws in visitors from everywhere. The lake itself is formed on a travertine barrier, making it a rare example of this type of geological formation. The lush greenery surrounding the lake adds to its enchanting beauty and provides ample opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Popular Spot for Birdwatching and Water-Based Activities

  • Birdwatching: As home to numerous species of migratory birds, Hanging Lake is a bird enthusiast’s paradise.
  • Kayaking & Canoeing: While swimming is not allowed in Hanging Lake due to its fragile ecosystem, nearby areas like Grizzly Creek provide perfect conditions for kayaking or canoeing adventures along the serene waters.
  • Hiking: A challenging yet rewarding hike up to Hanging Lake allows visitors to witness firsthand the breathtaking views this natural wonder has to offer. Check out detailed information about hiking trails at the White River National Forest website.

Experience the beauty and wonder of Hanging Lake during your next visit to Colorado, and immerse yourself in its captivating surroundings. Don’t forget to bring your camera.

Escape to Sloan’s Lake & Aurora Reservoir in Denver

Looking for an urban oasis to beat the heat in Denver? Look no further than Sloan’s Lake and Aurora Reservoir. These two stunning bodies of water offer free public access and a variety of recreational activities for everyone to enjoy.

Conveniently Located Near Downtown Denver

Sloan’s Lake, located conveniently close to downtown Denver, is an ideal destination for a quick getaway or leisurely day in the sun. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver by paddling out onto Sloan’s Lake or simply relaxing on its shoreline with friends and family. The park surrounding the lake is also great for picnics and family gatherings.

Aurora Reservoir, located in southeastern Aurora, is another great option for outdoor enthusiasts. With a large 800 acre expanse of water, the Aurora Reservoir offers an array of recreational activities like swimming, fishing, sailing and even scuba diving. The eight miles of trails around the reservoir are also perfect for walking or biking.

Free Public Access with Diverse Recreational Options

  • Picnic Areas: Both Sloan’s Lake and Aurora Reservoir have designated picnic spots where you can enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty with friends and family.
  • Fishing: Anglers are welcome at both lakes, but make sure you have a valid Colorado fishing license.
  • Birdwatching: Keep an eye out for the various bird species that call these urban oases home.

Whether you’re a local or just visiting Denver, Sloan’s Lake and Aurora Reservoir are the perfect spots to enjoy outdoor activities without venturing too far from the city’s conveniences. So grab your sunscreen and head out to these beautiful destinations.

Evergreen Lake at Echo Mountain Park

Located within Echo Mountain Park, Evergreen Lake spans across 24 acres featuring shallow glacial waters perfect for nature lovers looking to explore Colorado’s rich biodiversity. This picturesque destination is further away from bustling metropolitan areas like downtown Denver, yet still remains relatively accessible due to its proximity towards popular tourist attractions such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Golden Gate Canyon State Parks.

Experience the Beauty of Colorado’s Lakes

  • Shallow glacial waters amidst beautiful natural surroundings: Evergreen Lake offers a serene setting for outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking or simply admiring the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Close to other popular tourist attractions in Colorado: In addition to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Golden Gate Canyon State Parks, visitors can also explore nearby points of interest such as Summit County’s ski resorts or take scenic drives through the Rocky Mountains.

The lake itself provides ample opportunities for various water activities including stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), sailing, and birdwatching. For the nature-lovers, trails around the lake provide a chance to take in spectacular views of both the water and its surroundings while hiking or picnicking. During winter months when temperatures drop below freezing levels, this frozen lake turns into an ideal spot for ice skating adventures too.

Other Lakes to Explore in Colorado

If you’re looking for more lakes to explore in Colorado, there are plenty of options to choose from. Grand Lake and Twin Lakes, situated in the Rocky Mountain National Park, provide a majestic vista of the encompassing peaks. Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti National Recreation Area is another popular destination for water activities like water skiing and pontoon boating. Chatfield Reservoir in the Denver area and Cottonwood Lake in Lake City are also great options for outdoor activities like fishing and picnicking.

Experience the Best of Colorado’s Outdoors

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled vacation, Colorado’s lakes offer something for everyone. From the San Juan Mountains to the Gunnison River, there are endless opportunities to explore the great outdoors and experience the natural beauty of this amazing state.

Key Takeaway: 

Evergreen Lake at Echo Mountain Park is a serene destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Colorado’s rich biodiversity. Visitors can enjoy activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking or simply admiring the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Other lakes in Colorado such as Grand Lake and Twin Lakes offer breathtaking vistas of the Rocky Mountains and are great options for outdoor activities like water skiing and pontoon boating.

FAQs in Relation to Lakes Near Denver Colorado

Lakes near Denver Colorado

Looking for lakes near Denver? Check out Evergreen Lake, Sloan’s Lake, Aurora Reservoir, Chatfield State Park & Cherry Creek State Park Reservoirs for boating, fishing, swimming and hiking.

Clear lake near Denver

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon is the clearest lake near Denver with turquoise waters, waterfalls, and lush greenery. Reserve a permit and hike a 1.2-mile trail with moderate difficulty to visit.

Cleanest lake in Colorado

Lake Isabelle in Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is one of the cleanest lakes in Colorado due to its remote location and pristine alpine environment. Enjoy breathtaking views amidst untouched wilderness settings.

Largest lake near Denver Colorado

Chatfield Reservoir in Chatfield State Park is the largest lake close to Denver, covering over 1,500 acres with diverse water-based activities like boating or fishing available for visitors alongside camping facilities.


Check out Blue Mesa Reservoir and Lake Granby for stunning mountain views, or head to Chatfield State Park & Cherry Creek State Park Reservoirs for a refreshing swim close to the city.

For those seeking adventure, hike the Rocky Mountain National Park Lakes or explore the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area Lakes. If you’re looking for a convenient urban escape, Sloan’s Lake & Aurora Reservoir offer peaceful oases.

With options like Eleven Mile State Park Fishery for fishing enthusiasts and Hanging Lake Natural Wonder for geological marvels, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful region of Colorado.