Colorado Open Water Swimming

molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaMember
edited May 2014 in Locations & Networking
Looking for a good lake for a long, cool swim the weekend of June 14-15, about 15 miles. Connections to a kayaker a big plus. Other swimmers an even bigger plus. Thanks!

Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska



  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    Molly please ask to become a member of are Facebook group Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming "CROWS" and post the same the question and we will see how we can help. FYI @ssthomas @cliff
  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaMember
    Thank you! I'll do that.

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 2014
    Let's say a person is not a member of Facebook.

    What are some of our Colorado friends' favorite open water swimming venues? Locations, other useful details, etc. For example, I believe many of the Denver-area lakes/reservoirs are off-limits in the off-season, right?

    This makes the thread more useful for future searchers.
  • CliffCliff Member
    edited May 2014
    MSF Members,

    Open Water season officially begins in early May in the Denver Metro area. Surface water temps range between 45-55F, but quickly warm up into the 60s through June.

    I'm going to unintentionally leave out a bunch of lakes but here goes. Our favorite swimming holes in the Denver area include Chatfield Gravel Pond, Boulder Reservoir and Grant Ranch. Information and links for each can be found here...

    There are a few lakes open to swimming in the Fort Collins area as well but, other than the Horsetooth 10K..., I'm no expert on that area so I'll defer to our northern area swimmers on that topic.

    We have numerous high country lakes that are reasonably close to the Denver area. Beginning in early July, as Denver area lakes heat up into the 70s and become over-crowded with zigzagging neoprene-draped triathletes, we venture out to enjoy the cool, clear waters, gorgeous scenery and excellent trout fishing opportunities of our mountain lakes and streams. The Top 3 lakes on our list for summer swimming are:

    Wellington Lake...
    Green Mountain Res...
    Turquoise Lake...

    Please let us know when you plan to come here and we'll do our best to find you a swim buddy or pace swimmer as we know all the best swims and would welcome an opportunity to assist you with your training! Keep in mind that many of our lakes are owned and operated by public entities and therefore have rules about swimming.

    Also, I'd like to invite anyone interested in Colorado open water swimming to join our "Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming" group on Facebook. At some point soon, we'll most likely port the Group page over to an open page you can simply "Like".

    We're currently working on a CROWS website as well. We'll send the link out to MSF members when it's ready.

    If anyone here would like to have a conversation about a particular lake or swim that you have in mind, I can be reached at (303) 904-7338.

    Cliff Crozier
  • CliffCliff Member
    edited May 2014

    I just tagged several Colorado swimming locations. You can link to it from the MSF homepage by clicking on "Map of Swimmers and Pods" or...
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    The only thing I'd add to Cliff's list above is Taylor Res and Blue Mesa. They're a bit further away from Denver, but Blue Mesa is the largest body of water in Colorado, so I think it's worth a mention. It's usually pretty chilly into June and July, and worth the trek if you have a few days. Taylor is a bit smaller, but there aren't a lot of motor boats out there (just fishermen), and you can swim for hours without being bothered, and not really worried about getting run over. Both Blue Mesa and Taylor are near Gunnison, if you're trying to find them on a map. I usually camp and swim. (And for what it's worth, there is excellent fly fishing around Taylor- some of the best in the state.)

    Most of the Denver area lakes have restrictions on days/times that swimming is allowed. Once you get out of town, we're a little more free, so long as there aren't "No Swimming" signs posted.

    There are quite a few of us on the forum who would LOVE to show some out of towners around. Just let us know when you're coming and I'm sure we can find someone. We're pretty friendly.

  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaMember
    Thank you all very much for the helpful advice. This is a great thread for Colorado swimming!

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • I'm with Cliff. Love the gravel ponds. It's cold like Branched Oaks. Also love Horsetooth.
  • CliffCliff Member
    edited May 2014
    Just tagged two more Colorado lakes on the map - Green Mountain and Taylor Park Reservoirs.
  • CliffCliff Member
    If you're on Facebook, come "Like" our new open group Page at...

    Happy Swimming!
  • sosophiaphiasosophiaphia Colorado USAMember
    edited April 2018

    I'm resurrecting this old thread instead of starting a new one, hope that's okay! I'm new to both Colorado and open water swimming and trying to navigate the options around the Denver Metro for this season. From what I've read online it seems like a lot of the organization is changing hands this year, so I'm trying to figure out what my best options would be. What I've found so far includes...

    Highlands Ranch:



    Can anyone provide guidance on what to expect at these places, what the vibe typically is, water quality at the sites, etc.? Or perhaps have other suggestions on spots that may be welcoming to a newbie like me? (I'm an experienced, slow-ish, pool-trained distance freestyler.)

    Thanks in advance!

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    Of the three, the south gravel pond at Chatfield State Park is spring fed and has best over all water quality. It's been used for almost 30 years as an over water swimming venue, it has the highest concentration of open water purist (non wet-suit wearers) however plenty of triathletes train here as well. Highlands Ranch is really "Grant Ranch" the water quality is decent until about July 4th than it gets warm & weedy. Very triathlete centric, wet-suits even with the water temp approaching the high 70's. However a nice marked course, great if you want to time yourself etc. Neither Chatfield or Grant Ranch allow power boats. Boulder is in the Boulder reservoir, water tends get a little yucky as the season progresses. They do allow power boats. Triathlete oriented, competitive, many folks comparing the advantages of various $800 plus wet-suit brands. One other consideration is the Aurora Reservoir. They have a small quarter mile course for openwater swim training. Water quality is about as good as it gets on the Colorado front range (it is Aurora's drinking water) you can swim anytime dawn to dusk however the area is limited and does get weedy as the season progresses.

  • sosophiaphiasosophiaphia Colorado USAMember

    Lakespray, thank you so much for your thorough, thoughtful reply! I wish we had a "love" button.

    I feel a little better prepared going into this. It's been a challenge to plan an open water schedule from the couch on a snow day, so your message was quite helpful. I will probably start off at Chatfield. I hadn't even thought about Aurora options -- I work out that direction, so that may be just perfect as an after-shift supplement to my regular schedule.

    (I'm not an $800 ANYthing kinda girl, and can't for the life of me figure out why someone would want to ruin a good swim by following it with riding and running.)

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