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THE BEST STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING SPOTS IN DENVER

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EDIE HORSTMAN

APR 15, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @CIZZLEBEANS | INSTAGRAM

Here in Denver, we proudly relish over 300 days of glorious sunshine. And we talk about our sunny days. A lot. That’s because outdoor activities are an absolute must in Colorado, and there’s something for everyone.

So, before you swap your flip-flops for ski boots, take advantage of Denver’s sprawling lakes, beautiful mountains, and sun-drenched afternoons with a solid SUP session. We promise it’s not as hard as it looks. Happy paddling!

A neighborhood favorite, Sloan’s Lake is a haven for boaters, kayakers, and SUPers. Plus, it’s within arm’s reach of downtown Denver. In the mood for early morning SUP? Head here. Though you’ll likely be sharing the lake with motorized vehicles towing wakeboarders and waterskiers (especially on the weekends), just stay towards the perimeter and it’ll be smooth sailing. And with western-facing views of the mountains and eastern-facing views of Denver’s skyline, Sloan’s Lake is a diamond in the rough.

Chatfield Reservoir hosts just about every watersport out there. Yes, this means you can scuba dive in Colorado. But, we think being above water is just as fun. Paddleboarding at Chatfield is becoming more popular each summer, and there are plenty of outfitters with SUP rentals. With scenic views of neighboring foothills, Chatfield is a prime spot for everything from water sports to camping to riding horses. Giddy up.

One of Colorado’s best-kept secrets, Union Reservoir is only 45 minutes from Denver. Need to chill? It provides a break from the hustle and bustle of other lakes and reservoirs in the area. You’ll even forego the crowds that congregate around Boulder Reservoir. So, if you’re aiming for a tranquil paddle adventure, Union Reservoir is your spot.

While the views at Cherry Creek Reservoir aren’t quite as pristine as the others we’ve mentioned, it’s still conveniently close to Denver. You’ll get 880 acres of flat water, which is helpful for intrepid SUPers. Also, no need to have a board of your own. You can easily rent one from the Cherry Creek Marina. If you’re new to SUPing, paddle here first.

This small-ish lake is nestled near Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, aka the best music venue in the nation. If you’ve been to Red Rocks before, you know what we’re talking about. Anyway, because there aren’t any power boats allowed on this lake, SUPers can cruise around wake-free. Particulars: The reservoir is in Bear Creek Lake Park and board rentals can be purchased at the Soda Lakes Marina.

Roughly two hours from Denver, Grand Lake is known as the “Western Gateway” to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Year-round recreation is Grand Lake’s M.O. — it turns into a winter wonderland come December, but the summer months are filled with boaters, kayakers, sailors, and SUPers. Rent your board at Grand Lake Marina, and you’ll be all set. Fitt tip: sit on your paddleboard and simply soak in the picturesque scenery. We won’t judge if all you want to do is float.

Alright, we’re saving the best for last. About an hour and a half from Denver, Lake Dillon is unlike any other SUP spot in Colorado. With majestic peaks in the distance and plenty of lake to traverse, SUPing on Lake Dillon is quintessential Colorado. You can either rent boards at the Frisco Bay Marina, or launch your own. But due to the lake’s size and other activity-seekers, you’ll need to wear a life vest. As always, safety first.

No need to fly to the beach when the Aurora Reservoir has plenty of sand for you. A bit out of character for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, this reservoir is a pseudo-tropical getaway. Paddle out into the refreshing waters, but know that you’ll be sharing the reservoir with both motorized and nonmotorized enthusiasts alike. And, with a trail around the reservoir that marks just over eight miles, bring your tennis shoes for a post-paddle walk or run.

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