January 25, 2024 9 min read

Fall in love with Colorado, one paddle board destination at a time…

Where to Paddle Board in Crested Butte

Calling all Denver locals and visitors! Have you taken your paddle boards out yet on the abundant lakes and reservoirs? Denver boasts numerous lakes and reservoirs, from serene urban lakes to more expansive reservoirs surrounded by natural beauty. The diverse conditions and scenic surroundings offer something for everyone.

Discover the distinctive blend of urban space and natural wonder with an inflatable paddle board. You can paddle within the city limits, enjoying the sights and sounds of an urban environment, or you can venture into more remote areas for a tranquil escape into nature.

Denver's combination of diverse waterways, stunning surroundings, accessibility to equipment and instruction, and strong outdoor community make it an exceptional destination to paddle board in Colorado for all levels. Whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Denver's paddle-boarding scene has something to offer. And here are the best places you can venture to within the area.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

Cherry creek reservoir

Cherry Creek Reservoir is one of the most loved paddle-boarding destinations in Denver. It is located southeast of downtown Denver, making it easily accessible for both locals and visitors. The reservoir spans over 880 acres and is surrounded by Cherry Creek State Park, offering a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

The top highlights of this spot is the serene waters, scenic surroundings, and potential wildlife sightings. Cherry Creek Reservoir offers generally calm waters that are suitable for cruising and all-round paddle boarding. It is an ideal location for beginners and those looking for a relaxing paddle. The absence of strong currents or challenging waves provides a more tranquil and enjoyable experience on the water.

Tips for first-time visitors to Cherry Creek Reservoir

  1. Check Weather Conditions: Opt for a day with minimal wind and calm water conditions for your first paddleboarding experience. This will make it easier to maintain your balance and control on the board.
  2. Safety Gear: Always wear a life jacket for paddle boarding (PFD) while paddle boarding, and consider using a leash to keep your board attached to you in case of falls.
  3. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from sunburn. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and consider a rash guard or lightweight long-sleeve shirt for added sun protection.
  4. Respect Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any rules and regulations set by Cherry Creek State Park and follow guidelines to ensure the preservation of the natural environment.
  5. Take a Lesson: If you are completely new to paddle boarding, we do recommend you take a lesson with an instructor. There are plenty of places offering lessons around Denver and Cherry Creek Reservoir. By taking a lesson, you will get to learn proper techniques and be under safe guidance and supervision.

Chatfield Reservoir

Chatfield reservoir

Paddleboarding at Chatfield Reservoir in Denver offers a unique and excellent location for water enthusiasts. Situated southwest of Denver, this spot is surrounded by the natural beauty of Chatfield State Park. As you paddle across the reservoir's expansive waters, you will be treated to stunning views of the surrounding foothills and open landscapes.

One of the most notable aspects of Chatfield Reservoir is its size, which provides a range of water conditions for paddle boarders. While there are calmer areas suitable for beginners and leisurely paddling, the reservoir's size also means that you can encounter wind-generated waves and more challenging conditions in certain sections. This diversity allows both novice and experienced paddle boarders to find conditions that match their skill levels and preferences.

Safety considerations for paddle boarding at Chatfield Reservoir

It is important to be aware of the regulations and safety guidelines set by Chatfield State Park. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of all visitors and protect the natural environment. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines before embarking on your paddle-boarding adventure:

1. Life Jackets (Personal Flotation Devices - PFDs)

  • All paddleboarders are required to wear a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD (life jacket) while on the water.
  • The PFD should be appropriate for your weight and size.

2. Equipment

  • Ensure your paddle board is in good condition and suitable for the specific conditions of Chatfield Reservoir.
  • Use a paddle that is appropriate for your height and the activity.

3. Distance from Shore

  • Paddleboarders should be aware of any designated swim areas and stay a safe distance away from designated swimming zones.

4. Right of Way and Avoiding Collisions

  • Paddleboarders should yield the right of way to larger vessels, such as motorized boats.
  • Be attentive to your surroundings and avoid collisions with other watercraft.

5. Alcohol and Drugs

  • Operating a paddleboard under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited and dangerous.

6. Weather Conditions

  • Check weather forecasts before heading out and avoid paddling in adverse weather conditions, including strong winds, lightning storms, or other hazardous weather.

7. Respect Wildlife and Environment

  • Paddleboarders should avoid disturbing wildlife and adhere to park guidelines for protecting the local ecosystem.

8. Stay Hydrated and Sun-Safe

  • Bring enough water to stay hydrated throughout your paddleboarding session.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with appropriate clothing, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

9. Emergency Preparedness

  • Have a plan in case of emergencies, such as knowing how to call for help and being aware of nearby landmarks or navigation points.

10. Park Regulations

  • Follow all park rules and regulations, including entry fees, parking guidelines, and designated launch areas for paddleboarding.

Sloan's Lake

Sloan's lake

Sloan's Lake is one of the most popular urban paddle boarding spots. This unique location offers an adventure with stunning views of the city skyline and a relaxed, peaceful environment. Located in northwest Denver, this is the city's second-largest park covering approximately 177 acres.

One of the highlights of paddle boarding at Sloan's Lake is the breathtaking view of the Denver skyline against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. As you paddle across the lake, you will be treated to a picturesque scene that captures the urban charm of Denver along with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. The calm and relatively tranquil waters make it an ideal destination for beginners and anyone looking for a peaceful paddle within the heart of Denver.

Best times to visit Sloan’s Lake

Spring and Summer are the most popular times to take a paddle board out on Sloan’s Lake. However, if you can brave the temperature and don the wetsuit, Fall offers breathtaking colors and no crowds. 

Early risers often get undisturbed views across the lake and tranquil waters to enjoy. We do recommend heading out for a sunset paddle though to watch the sunset from a different angle in this urban paddle boarding spot.

Standley Lake Regional Park

Standley lake regional park

Standley Lake Regional Park is peaceful and serene. This is a hidden gem for paddle board lovers to escape urban space and discover more of the natural beauty of the area. Standley Lake Regional Park is located in Westminster, Colorado, just northwest of Denver. The lake spans over 1,200 acres and is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, and open spaces.

One of the highlights of paddle boarding at Standley Lake is the stunning surrounding natural beauty. As you paddle across the calm waters, you'll be treated to breathtaking views and the perfect backdrop for a relaxing paddle-boarding experience. Standley Lake is a haven for wildlife. While you are here, you might spot a variety of bird species, waterfowl, and occasionally even deer or other animals that inhabit the area.

Guidelines for eco-friendly paddle boarding in Denver

Ecosystems in lakes and nature reserves are habitats for a number of species, including protected animals. If you choose to paddle board in locations that pride themselves on the diverse ecosystem then it is your duty to be consciously aware and protect the space.

Here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Respect the wildlife by maintaining a safe distance and keeping noise levels down
  2. Stay on designated waterways and launch points to prevent damaging sensitive ecosystems
  3. Minimize your impact by refraining from trampling on or disturbing aquatic plants
  4. Leave no trace and take everything home with you. If you find litter during your trip, consider picking it up and disposing of it responsibly.
  5. Use biodegradable sunscreen
  6. Avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning your paddle board and equipment
  7. Follow park regulations and respect any restricted areas, such as wildlife sanctuaries or no-entry zones
  8. Educate others and share your eco-friendly paddle-boarding practices with others
  9. Join in with clean-up efforts and events
  10. Support conservation organizations and consider supporting organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving natural water bodies by donating or volunteering

Boulder Reservoir

Boulder reservoir

Boulder Reservoir is a nearby option for Denver locals that offers a unique and invigorating experience surrounded by the beauty of nature. There are stunning views of the Rocky Mountains paired with the open space and picturesque backdrop, perfect for any paddle boarding adventure.

Boulder Reservoir is larger than some of the other water bodies in the area, so you can expect a bit more open water and potentially slightly more challenging conditions. While the reservoir's size can result in occasional wind-generated waves, it also provides an opportunity for more experienced paddle boarders to enjoy a slightly more dynamic paddling experience.

Permits to paddle Boulder Reservoir

You are required to have a small watercraft permit in order to paddle on these waters. You can apply for your permit directly from Boulder Reservoir. The following is information taken from their regulations:

“Any and all small craft used at the Boulder Reservoir must have an annual permit. Small craft permits (non-motorized craft used outside the swim area: canoes, kayaks, SUP - inflatable or standard, kiteboards, etc.) are available for purchase online.

Demand for small watercraft permits is extremely high.

Permit stickers will be applied directly to your watercraft by the boat inspector when you first bring your watercraft to the Reservoir for use. Permit stickers will be at the Reservoir, April 1st, under the name used to purchase permits. Please bring your watercraft with you as we will not give out permit sticker(s).” 

Safety Tips and Equipment

Paddle Boarding the Slate River in Crested Butte, CO

Paddleboarding in Denver is no different from anywhere else. Safety should always be a main priority. For safe paddling, always ensure your equipment is up to scratch. If you are renting paddle boards from any of the above locations then your gear will be regularly checked and maintained to a safe standard. 

Make sure you have a PFD and know your entry and exit points. Always be sure to check the weather conditions and water levels before heading out.

Permits and Regulations For Paddle Boarding Denver

Before embarking on a paddle boarding adventure in Denver, it is important to be aware of the permits and regulations that govern water activities. Depending on the specific water body you plan to paddle board on, you may need to obtain a watercraft permit. These permits help manage waterway usage, ensure safety, and contribute to the conservation of natural environments. 

Additionally, adhering to regulations such as wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and respecting wildlife and designated watercraft areas is essential. By understanding and following these guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and responsible paddleboarding experience while helping to preserve Denver's beautiful waterways for future generations.

Interactive Map


🏆 Where is the best place for beginners to paddle board in Denver?

Cherry Creek Reservoir and Sloan’s Lake are two fantastic places for beginners to paddle board in Denver. Both offer calm waters that are ideal for learning the basics and finding confidence out on the water. There are facilities and rental companies available for equipment and lessons if needed as well.

👍 Where is the most popular place to paddle board in Denver?

One of the most popular places to paddle board in Denver is Sloan's Lake. Sloan's Lake is a favored location among locals and visitors alike due to its urban setting, scenic beauty, and accessibility. While Sloan's Lake is one of the most popular places to paddle board in Denver, it is worth noting that popularity can vary based on factors such as the season, weather, and local events.

If you are looking for a vibrant paddle boarding scene with a mix of serene waters and urban charm, Sloan's Lake is a top choice in the Denver area.

🏝️ Do I need to wear a PFD when paddle boarding in Denver?

The requirement to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while paddle boarding can vary based on local regulations and waterbody-specific rules. However, it is important to prioritize safety and consider wearing a PFD regardless of local requirements.

❓ What type of paddle boarding can I do in Denver?

Denver is great for all-around paddle-boarding fun. The calm waters offer flatwater and touring paddle boarding goals. There are opportunities to have a try at fishing paddle boarding or even paddle board yoga if you fancied it.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.

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