Colorado is home to more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs, all of which offer up plenty of summer fun and recreation. Visitors can partake in water sports like boating, water skiing, kayaking, swimming, or fishing. Whether you spend your days cruising on the wide open water of Grand Lake, or choose to explore the watery oasis of a pristine mountain lake, these beautiful locations, all backed by a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, will not disappoint. Read on for seven of the best Colorado Lake vacation spots, and start packing!
Best Lakes in Colorado
1. Grand Lake
Grand Lake is a quaint and picturesque little town, which sits right on Grand Lake itself. This huge Colorado lake is perfect for fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, or even yachting. Grand Lake also boasts the biggest Fourth of July fireworks display in the state, and the town is full of old-time gift shops, saloons, candy shops, and mini-golf courses. The local Rocky Mountain Rep offers musical theater productions all summer long, and the lake sits at the western portal to Rocky Mountain National Park, offering up plenty of other outdoor activities.
Glenwood Springs sits just at the west end of the similarly named Glenwood Canyon. If you are up for a bit of a challenge and a steep hike, make the trek to Hanging Lake. This mountain lake is just ten miles east of town, and the area is one of unbelievable beauty. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, try the local hot springs for a rejuvenating soak. The town has a pretty healthy cultural scene, and it was even named the most vibrant small art towns in America.
The small town of Granby, Colorado is nestled into a scenic Rocky Mountain valley at an elevation of 7,935 feet. The area is surrounded by National Forests and offers breathtaking views of the Continental Divide. Granby is also home to the second largest body of water in Colorado, Lake Granby. The lake is especially popular with trout and salmon fisherman, but it’s also a great spot for boating and kayaking. The surrounding area includes Rocky Mountain National Park, and the previously mentioned Grand Lake. It’s slightly less popular as a summer destination than some nearby towns, so it offers great summer recreation without the crowds.
Dillon, Colorado is tucked in next to the sparkling Dillon Reservoir, and is situated right in the middle of the area’s most popular resorts. It’s the perfect jumping off point to explore all of the outside adventures that Colorado has to offer, with plenty of fun right in Dillon itself. The reservoir is perfect for sailing, paddling, or sunbathing on the 26-mile shoreline. The local full-service marina offers kayak and boat rentals for a fun day out on the water. The town is also famous for its summer farmers market some pretty incredible mountain views. If you’re up for a day trip, head to some of the well known nearby mountain resorts (like Keystone) for a day of hiking or mountain biking.
Most know Steamboat as the ultimate winter playground, but this northwest Colorado town is just as attractive in the summer months. Nearby, visitors can head out for a day of trout fishing at Steamboat Lake State Park, or try your hand at some stand up paddle boarding at Stagecoach Reservoir. Both spots offer great opportunities for fun and relaxation. Steamboat is also surrounded by some of the state’s best hiking trails and plenty of dude ranches for a taste of the area’s Western heritage. After a day of paddle boarding or horse back riding, head to the local hot springs to unwind.
Frisco Bay Marina sits on the shores of the beautiful Dillon Reservoir, and the pristine waters are perfect for sailing, kayaking, fishing, or swimming. Spend your day learning to sail, enter a sandcastle competition, or take a look around a boat show. The town itself is home to quaint shops and boutiques, local restaurants, and cozy bed and breakfasts. As you walk through town, don’t forget to look up at the 14,000 foot peaks that frame the small town. If you’re looking for even more outdoor adventure, try the easy Rainbow Lake Trail or take a bike ride along the 55 miles of paved recreational pathways that wind through all of Summit County.
7. Fort Collins
Fort Collins sits just north of Denver and is a gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as the Roosevelt National Forest. Previously a trading post, the town is now a bustling college town (home to Colorado State University) full of great restaurants, brewpubs, nightlife, and a vibrant and youthful culture. Nearby is Horsetooth Reservoir, which offers up everything from boating and swimming, to camping and fishing. There are also some great spots around the reservoir for mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. Fort Collins has a reputation as one of Colorado’s craft-brewery hubs, so make sure to seek out a few cold ones after a long day adventuring.
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This article was written by Alexis Hartmann.