We all know how swelteringly hot (but, thank goodness, not humid) it can get in the Mile High City in the summertime, and one way to beat the heat is to find open water. Some of us prefer to hike to secluded alpine lakes, while others may simply want to loll about on the reservoir. Either way, here are 10 lovely waterways near Denver that you just HAVE to see this summer.
1. Upper and Lower Crystal Lakes
In the Ten Mile Range just south of Breckenridge are the glorious Crystal Lakes. You can hike or drive (4WD only) the roughly 2.5 miles to Lower Crystal Lake which rests at 11,959,' then continue on to Upper Crystal, which is nestled 1.9 miles further, in a cirque below three 13,000-foot peaks. And keep your eye out for moose, elk, marmots, and pikas along the way!
2. Andrew's Tarn and Glacier
This strenuous 10 mile hike in Rocky Mountain National Park will lead you through alpine forests and scenic valleys to a quiet and secluded bowl high in the mountains. There you can rest beside Andrew's Tarn below its namesake glacier and ease your feet and your mind.
3. Lower Cataract Lake
Lower Cataract Lake near Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir is the perfect spot for a family picnic and an easy, scenic 2.3 mile loop around the lake. (This is also an insanely gorgeous hike in the fall!)
4. Chihuahua Lake
Off Peru Creek Road in the White River National Forest near Keystone, lies the Chihuahua Gulch Trail, which is 7 miles roundtrip and offers inspiring views of the popular fourteeners, Grays and Torreys. The reward of lounging by Chihuahua Lake at 12,251' is well worth the effort it takes to get there!
Four Lakes and a Waterfall
In just 6.4 miles you can experience four sub-alpine lakes and a waterfall in the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park.
5. Bear Lake
The loop hike begins here at the Bear Lake Trailhead at 9,475' with breathtaking views of Half Mountain resting just in front of Longs Peak.
6. Lake Haiyaha
After taking in Alberta Falls and hiking about 2 miles, you will arrive at Lake Haiyaha tucked away in a large valley surrounded by gigantic awe-inspiring granite boulders.
7. Dream Lake
Proceed past Haiyaha, and you will arrive at Dream Lake. From its eastern shore, enjoy views of Hallett Peak at 12,713' and Flattop Mountain at 12,324'.
8. Nymph Lake
From Dream Lake, double-back and make your way just .5 miles to Nymph Lake, which is known for its lovely lily pads and glimpses of Longs Peak along the trail. Return to Bear Lake to end your wonderful water-filled hike and perhaps drink in a sunset.
9. Aurora Reservoir
For a total change of pace (and if strenuous hikes and secluded alpine lakes are not your cup of tea), Aurora Reservoir is a great option for you. There are still plenty of leisure activities to enjoy, such as swimming, biking, boating, and canoeing, but all you HAVE to do is drive and park it.
10. Boulder Reservoir
Sticking to the theme of social open waters, Boulder Reservoir is just begging for you to go kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, or beaching. (And again, expect fun but not necessarily solitude.)
Where do you go to get wet and reset in the summertime? Let us know in the comments!