Growing up in Oklahoma, we escaped to Colorado for its beautiful mountains, ski slopes, and yes, its beaches. The state is home to a sprawling and vast wilderness sprinkled with cool and relaxing lake getaway spots. Here are the best beaches in Colorado for you to plan your own lake retreat.
There is easily a Colorado beach for every kind of traveler, from convenient and expansive reservoirs to hidden lakes tucked between mountains.
Personally, my favorite beaches are the ones that you have to hike to get to. There is nothing more rewarding than working up a sweat on your way up a steep mountain and then taking a dip in a refreshing alpine lake and spending the day basking in the sun.
Below are seventeen of the best beaches in Colorado that you can choose to go on your next Colorado adventure.
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How to Visit Colorado’s Beaches
Well, if you’re a Colorado local then you probably already know that getting around the state is really tough without a car. There just isn’t good public transportation between cities.
Since you really need your own wheels, I have tips below for renting a car if you don’t have one.
Tips for Renting a Car in Colorado
It’s awfully hard to get around Colorado without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! Typically, I drive to Colorado from Oklahoma or Kansas, but when I don’t have access to my own wheels I use Discover Cars to rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Best Beaches in Colorado
In no particular order…
St. Mary’s Glacier
An easy 1.4-mile hike to this stunning glacial lake will take your breath away.
Located near Idaho Springs, Colorado, this lake is fed by glacier melt which is sure to invigorate you as you take the polar plunge. The water remains cold all year round but that does not deter people from cliff jumping, swimming, and fishing.
By mid-July, the water is comfortable enough to dive in after a nice hike around the perimeter, even when there are people skiing down the glacier only a few yards away.
Cherry Creek Reservoir
Cherry Creek Reservoir, a well-loved and central location to recreate, is located southeast of Denver. This sprawling patch of nature offers a sandy swim beach, boating, camping, and fishing. This is the perfect place to cool off from the intense Colorado sun on a hot summer day.
Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park, conveniently located 45 minutes south-west of Denver, is a great place to visit when you are trying to stay central to the Denver area. This park offers one of the best swimming beaches in Colorado, as well as boating, camping, horseback riding, and even a designated off-leash dog area.
Surrounded by scenic views of the Platte River valley this is a perfect place to recreate.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water with a staggering 96 miles of shoreline, providing plenty of room to relax, recreate, and recharge. Located near the town of Gunnison this is the perfect place to escape the heat of the western slopes.
Elk Creek Marina is open providing services including boat rentals, fuel, SUP and kayaks. You can also get refreshments and fishing tackle in the conveniently located store.
For the adventurers they offer guided fishing tours when you make a reservation.
The Boulder Reservoir is a hot spot to visit during the warm months. Located near the city of Boulder, this reservoir has sandy beaches to relax on and SUP rentals for the more adventurous beachgoer. It’s a convenient place to go to enjoy nature during the day where people of all ages go to enjoy some of the best that mother nature has to offer.
Jackson Lake State Park
Jackson Lake State Park is located on the northeast plains of Colorado nearest the town of Orchard. This oasis in the plains offers classic Colorado scenery and recreation experiences. Boating, fishing, and camping are popular activities at this local watering hole.
Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake
Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest natural body of water located at the headwaters of the Colorado River. Near the treasured town of Grand Lake, Colorado, this lake accompanied by its neighboring sister, Shadow Mountain Lake, attracts beach lovers and recreators alike.
Boat rentals, SUP, fishing, and swimming are popular attractions of the lake.
Medano Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park
Medano Creek floods the river bed each summer with high country snow melt, attracting people to the sandy desert oasis. Located southwest of Pueblo, this natural wonder astonishes its guests and refreshes your soul.
Ridgway State Park
Ridgway State Park located near Ouray Colorado is home to a sandy beach tucked amongst the mountains.
Ouray is known as the Switzerland of America and lives up to its nickname. Magnificent mountains provide the perfect backdrop for a beach day that will make you never want to leave. Luckily for you, there are camping spots and yurts available to reserve to extend your stay.
Rock Canyon Swim Beach Area, Lak Pueblo State Park
Rock Canyon Swim Beach is one of Pueblo’s only swimming beaches. It is home to water recreation and sweeping views providing the people of southern Colorado some much needed refuge from the hot summer sun.
This is the perfect place to bring the family for a day of soaking up the sun and enjoying a nice picnic.
Steamboat Lake State Park
Steamboat Lake State Park is a jewel tucked in the valley beneath Hahn’s Peak near Steamboat, Colorado. An amazing destination in summer and winter with diverse recreation and relaxation opportunities for people with all interests.
Swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, camping, and other outdoor recreational activities can be found here. Pack a lunch and your sense of adventure when visiting this beautiful state park.
Dillon Reservoir located near Silverthorne, Colorado is a sweeping lake tucked in a breathtaking mountain valley.
This is a refreshing alpine lake to take a dip in or enjoy many of the other recreational activities available such as motorized and non-motorized boating, hiking, fishing, hiking, trail running, and cycling. A perfect destination in the summer and winter with a diverse array of activities.
Lake Granby located just outside of the town of Granby sits along the Colorado River and boasts a remarkable 40 miles of shoreline.
Lake Granby is the largest storage reservoir in Colorado and welcomes adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. You can take a refreshing dip in the lake, rent SUP boards, or enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.
After a long day of recreating on the lake, Arapahoe National Forest and the Indian Peaks Wilderness invite you to stay the night and catch some spectacular stars.
Taylor Park Reservoir
Taylor Park Reservoir, located off of the scenic Cottonwood Pass halfway between Crested Butte and Buena Vista in Almont, Colorado, is a new reservoir surrounded by the mountain giants of the region. This reservoir is a great place to get off the beaten path and enjoy some classic Colorado recreation and alpine water.
Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake State Park located near Grand Junction is the western slope’s epicenter for recreation. A retreat from the desert, this lake is surrounded by lush greenery and abundant recreational activities.
You can swim, rent boats, fish, hike, camp, and be merry here. A fantastic family location with opportunities for people of any age.
Irwin Lake and Kebler Pass
Irwin Lake located nearest Crested Butte is a family-friendly lake location with spectacular wildflower views in the state’s wildflower capital. There is available camping in the surrounding area and some of the most breathtaking views in an ancient alpine forest.
You can drive up and recreate with non-motorized boats and SUP, or just take a refreshing dip.
Palmer Lake located near Colorado Springs is an excellent place to go to get out of the city. This lake has vast potential for recreation and frequently hosts events such as 10k races to keep people active and healthy.
This is a great place to unwind, take a dip, and get back to nature. Visitors are able to fish in Palmer Lake with a permit. This lake is not only a spectacular place to spend the summer but opens up in the winter for activities like ice skating.
Colorado Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
Pin this Guide to the Best Colorado Beaches for Your Colorado Adventures!
Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!