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Even In Land-Locked Colorado, Life's a Beach

Like most state parks, Jackson Lake has bathrooms and picnic facilities so you can make a day of it.

Like most state parks, Jackson Lake has bathrooms and picnic facilities so you can make a day of it.

Summer’s half over already. How can that be? But it’s true – some kids go back to school in just a month or so. That said, have you been to the beach yet? 

Even in land-locked Colorado, plenty of Rocky Mountain lakes and reservoirs offer miles of shoreline for swimming, playing or just relaxing by a sparkling body of water. 

Right here in Colorado Springs, we have PROSPECT LAKE with a roped-off swim beach and lots of sand for building castles. They even supply the buckets. And there’s a lifeguard on duty. 

But perhaps you’d like to go farther afield for your day at the beach.

In the Denver area, both CHERRY CREEK and the CHATFIELD RESERVOIRS have improved beaches that draw sizeable crowds on nice weekends. 

Or maybe you want something quieter.

BLUE MESA reservoir west of Gunnison is the state’s largest body of water, which means not just fishing and boating, but also lounge-worthy beaches. It’s even swimmable in the middle of summer. That’d be now.

GRAND LAKE, set like a jewel in the town of the same name, has a swim beach that’s often busy in summer, even though the water is on the chilly side.

VALLECITO LAKE near Durango may remind transplanted Midwesterners of those tree-lined lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Though it’s generally too cold for swimming, it’s an ideal place to laze away a day or two on a pontoon boat, fishing or napping under a canopy in the high mountain air.

Then there are state parks.

“There probably aren’t too many better beaches in Colorado than those found within state parks,” says Kyle Davidson, public information officer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region.

“Our beaches are clean and safe, most with bathrooms and picnic areas nearby. Plus, people come to state parks for … the beauty (that) inspires them. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a beach in an environment like that?”

LAKE PUEBLO STATE PARK offers six acres of sand beach and a designated swim area that bustles with activity on a hot summer day – and they have plenty of those in Pueblo! There are covered picnic pavilions, charcoal grills for cooking your burgers, showers, restrooms and big cottonwood trees for shade.

JACKSON LAKE in northeast Colorado, near Fort Morgan – calls itself an “oasis on the plains” and has been ranked as one of the Top 15 Park Beaches by Reserve America. It’s perfect for getting away from crowded urban areas. It boasts clear shallow water, soft sand and plenty of room to play Frisbee. There are two designated swim beaches, boating, fishing and even waterskiing. 

RIDGEWAY STATE PARK, 15 miles south of Montrose on Highway 50, offers a large sandy beach located in a protected cove so the water stays calm and warms up nicely. There’s playground equipment nearby, so it’s great for kids – and a volleyball net always ready for some action. 

A grassy area has picnic tables, a picnic shelter and barbecue grills. Change in the on-site locker rooms or wash off the sand at one of the outdoor showers. Camping is available, along with fishing, boating, full hook-ups and fabulous views of the San Juans.

STEAMBOAT LAKE STATE PARK boasts one of the state’s highest beaches, at 8,000 feet, so the water is usually between 70 and 80 degrees in the summer. The swim area features a sandy bottom and a beach perfect for kids to play on, or for lying in the sun. There are shaded areas nearby to tie up dogs. (Dogs are not allowed on the beach in any state park.)

 So what are you waiting for?