Lakes in Colorado

Colorado may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean we lack shoreline. With a large collection of lakes and reservoirs — many that are a boon for boaters — Colorado has its fair share of weekend sailors, windsurfers, swimmers and flat-water kayakers and canoers. 

Boats on a Colorado lake

So grab your life jacket and a big floppy hat; we’ll reveal a couple of the most promising of Colorado lakes and reservoirs.

Popular Colorado Lakes

Grand Lake
The largest natural lake in Colorado sits outside the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park in a town of the same name, with a boardwalk, marina and lots of family fun and events each year.

Chatfield Reservoir
One of the most popular lakes near Denver, Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton bustles with swimmers, sailors, fishers, campers, horseback riders and bird watchers.

Lake Dillon
Summit County is known worldwide for its skiing, but the joys of this high-country paradise aren’t confined to the slopes. On Lake Dillon, a massive reservoir lined with pines and studded with islands, boaters rejoice in the beautiful views and fresh air. 

Boulder Reservoir
This 700-acre recreation hotspot boasts fun events all summer long, a popular swim beach, water skiing, fishing and spectacular views of Boulder's famous Flatiron Mountains.

Prospect Lake
Admire silhouettes of the foothills in the distance at this lake in Colorado Springs’ Memorial Park, a lovely place for swimming, boating and picnicking on a warm summer’s day.

Lake Granby
In Colorado’s Middle Park area between Winter Park and the town of Grand Lake, and with spectacular Continental Divide views, Granby is another of the state’s largest lakes and popular with trout, salmon and ice fishers.

Horsetooth Reservoir
On Horsetooth’s 6.5 miles of water near Fort Collins, canoeists and kayakers explore hidden coves while hikers emerge from wooded areas and hogbacks to find blue waters snaking into view and the Great Plains extending to the horizon beyond.

Lake San Cristobal
Near Lake City and Creede, Lake San Cristobal is a geologic marvel amid the San Juan Mountains formed by a rare earthflow. It’s popular with boaters, campers and fishers.

Vallecito Lake
Just 20 miles north of Durango, the town and namesake lake of Vallecito sits in a beautiful valley at 8,000 feet. A full-service marina makes getting on the water a cinch.

McPhee Lake
Part of the McPhee Recreation area outside of Cortez, the lake’s nearly 2,500 surface acres and 50 miles of shoreline sits in a beautiful river canyon and supports warm- and cold-water fish.

Grand Mesa Lakes
Colorado’s Grand Mesa is home to more than 300 lakes and reservoirs perfect for finding your own private water hideaway near the towns of Grand Junction, Paonia, Delta, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Driving Hwy. 50 west of Gunnison, you’ll eventually ask the question, “Does this reservoir ever come to an end?” In fact, it’s the largest body of water in the state, with many-fingered coves and narrow tributaries. NOTE: Blue Mesa Reservoir's marinas are closed for the summer 2022 boating season. 

Lakes in Colorado State Parks

The 41 Colorado State Parks are one of best places to start when looking for boating and other lake activities, check out these locations in the areas you plan to visit:

Denver region:
Cherry Creek ReservoirStaunton Lake

Front Range region:
Barr LakeBoyd LakeSt. Vrain

Northwest region:
ElkheadHarvey GapHighline James M. Robb Colorado RiverPearl Lake Rifle GapStagecoachState ForestSylvan LakeVegaYampa River

Northeast region:
Jackson LakeNorth Sterling

Southeast region:
John Martin ReservoirLake PuebloLathropTrinidad Lake

Southwest region:
CrawfordMancosNavajo PaoniaRidgwaySweitzer Lake

South Central region:
Arkansas Headwaters Eleven Mile San Luis  Spinney Mountain

Want More?

We’re also home to the headwaters for some of the nation’s mightiest rivers. (See our list of Colorado rivers for rafting.) Plus, there’s the prospect of landing a trophy-sized trout or hooking a powerful pike in these waters. And read about some of Colorado's best beaches and lakeside lodging.

Find more boatable waters on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website >>

Don't forget to wear your life vest and practice boat safety.

More Colorado Fishing

10 Colorado Fly-Fishing Spots >>
Top Places to Drop a Line in Colorado >>
10 Places to Fish With the Family >>