The 3 best excuses for a beach near Denver

As a Denver transplant from Boston, I'm used to a certain amount of ocean breeze and low tide stench. It wasn't something I thought i'd miss, as I only went to the beach once or twice each summer in New England. But absence seems to make the heart grow fonder in this case, and I'm left here high and dry--very dry.

That being said, Colorado has a few tricks up its sleeve in the form of mountain lakes and serene reservoirs. No, the sand isn't white or soft. No the water isn't salty. But you can't have your Rocky Mountain cake and eat it too.


Chatfield State Park Swimming Hole
Stephen Rumizen

Chatfield is only about half an hour from Denver, and offers a dedicated swimming area complete with real(!) sand. After paying the $8 to get into the park, you'll have access to numerous picnic areas along with swimming areas and generally beautiful scenery. If lying on "sand" with earbuds in doesn't appeal to you, check out the paddleboard and boat rentals for some excitement. Oh, and they allow alcoholic drinks up to 3.5% ABV which is quite a nice touch to an already enticing hang spot.

Boulder Creek
Stephen Rumizen

This 32-mile-long creek runs through the heart of Boulder and provides a playground for us water-loving Coloradans. Pick a spot, an activity, and a few friends, and enjoy the creek however you want. This ain't no public swimming pool--this is nature at its finest. Picture smooth rock slides, inner tubes, and fishing, all a short walk from the hip breweries and shops of Boulder.

Glenwood Hot Springs
GLENWOOD06-- Erik Feiereisen, 8, of Boulder, dives into the pool through the rising steam at the Glenwood Hot Springs. The GlenwRJ Sangosti via Getty Images

Whether you're a spa enthusiast, a history buff, or just someone looking for a steamy weekend in the mountains, this famous hot springs resort is your destination. The business itself was created in 1888 over this massive natural hot springs that soon became world famous for its scenery and supposed healing properties (they still claim those). But even if you're skeptical of its magical minerals (I'm with you), you'll still be taken with the scale and beauty of the hot springs. So take a break from conquering the mountains and spend a weekend being awed by them--in flip flops and swim trunks.

If you've never lived near the ocean, these Colorado swimming holes will surely tickle your fancy. If you have--take these freshwater options with a grain of sea salt.


Stephen Rumizen is the kind of guy who likes the idea of a beach, but isn't totally sold on the actual application of a beach.