Gliding across a glassy reservoir as you balance on your stand-up paddleboard and gaze at the mountains before you is a uniquely Colorado experience — one that you should incorporate into your next Boulder vacation. In our guide, we show you where to go and what to expect on your paddleboarding excursion.
The Boulder Res is a dazzlingly scenic spot close to town and a perfect place to spend a day out paddling, chillin' on the beach or sipping a cold beverage at the lakeside cafe, Ruthie's Boardwalk Social. Soak up the sun and views of the Flatirons while you SUP across hundreds of acres of lake.
Boulder Paddleboard Rentals
The best part is you can rent a paddleboard right on site from Rocky Mountain Paddleboard. (Don't plan to bring your own board unless you have scored one of the Reservoir's few permits, which tend to sell out each spring.)
You can also take a lesson with a certified instructor at Rocky Mountain Paddleboard or sign up for a stand-up paddleboarding yoga class to get a new perspective of the Res while in downward dog.
The park entry fee is $11 per non-resident. Please note that while we love dogs in Boulder, they are not allowed at the Res from mid-May to Labor Day.
Say it with us: "We LOVE personal flotation devices!" A PFD is a must any time you're out on the water. Winds can pick up suddenly, water temps can fluctuate quickly and affect your ability to get back on your board, and accidents happen. Don't take a chance!
About a half-hour northeast of Boulder, in nearby Longmont, is a pretty little lake tucked into a residential neighborhood with a primo view of Longs Peak to the west. Bring your own paddleboard or rent one from Rocky Mountain Paddleboard in Boulder. McIntosh is open to canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and small non-motorized boats that can be carried to the lake. Be advised that there's no swimming allowed.
We don't mean to be dramatic, but we feel confident saying Brainard Lake, about 50 minutes west of Boulder, will truly take your breath away. A sawtooth ridge formed by the Indian Peaks makes a cinematic backdrop for the alpine lake, which sits 10,300 feet above sea level. You'll have the sensation of drifting around the top of the world as the crystal-clear waters of this small pool lap at your board and you glide through the fresh mountain air. The lake is open to non-motorized boating and fishing.
You'll need a timed-entry reservation to get a parking spot and access to the recreation area, so plan a couple of weeks in advance.
Gross Reservoir – Ongoing Construction
Gross Reservoir is a sprawling and scenic body of water in the mountains about 45 minutes southwest of Boulder. It's very popular for paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking, with clear waters, fun rock inlets along the shore and cool mountain air.
Right now the experience is a little different due to a big expansion project that's underway through 2027. While some of the typical entry points are closed during construction, you can still bring your SUP and park at the North Shore. From there, a shuttle will take you and board down to the shore (shuttles operate Thursday through Monday, 8am-6pm). In addition, the water level may be lower than normal during the project.
FAQs About Lakes in Boulder
Does Boulder, Colorado, have a lake?
Yes, the Boulder Reservoir is located on the north side of town, with beautiful views of the Flatirons and water recreation available.Learn More
Are there lakes with beaches in Boulder, Colorado?
Yes, the Boulder Reservoir has a sandy beach with a swimming area and lifeguards on duty in summer. Lonely Planet called the Boulder Reservoir one of best beaches in Colorado.Read More
What Boulder lakes have camping?
Brainard Lake, about an hour from Boulder, offers camping at the beautiful Pawnee Campground, just steps from the lake. Reservations are required.Learn More
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