Colorado in general, the Denver metro area included, is known for its nearly boundless recreational potential and sweeping beauty. One thing it notably lacks, though, is water. Sloan’s Lake is a surprisingly massive body of water that occupies a slice of the western edge of Denver that falls adjacent to Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, and Edgewater. It’s a hub for recreation, socialization, and culture in Denver, and you might find a quirky or interesting event happening if you swing by on a weekend or balmy evening.
Though this oasis is a cornerstone to the area’s topography, it was once an arid prairie. As the legend goes, a farmer by the name of Thomas Sloan traversed across the barred landscape and settled on its western edge with plans to cultivate crops and stock. It’s fabled that one afternoon he excavated a well, and when he awoke in the morning, the entire field was flooded with the water from an underground aquifer he had struck.
Today, thanks to old Thomas Sloan, it’s common to see water skiers, stand-up paddlers, and flatwater kayakers utilizing the public boat ramp and weaving around the lake on a warm, sunny day. Though it’s perfect for recreation of this type, unfortunately the lake is not a great place to swim due to mild pollution and algae blooms near shore. Naturally, it’s also a hub for water birds, water-going animals, and the few predators that hunt them.
The most common birds spotted at Sloan’s lake are Canada geese, barn swallows, seagulls, and nighthawks who perform aerial acrobatics at sundown in quite the theatrical fashion. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency stocks the lake with black crappie, carp, and trout, which draw cormorants and herons. Watch the lake’s muddy flats for long enough, and you could spot the two semi-aquatic rodents most often seen at Sloan’s lake: native muskrats and non-native nutria. Though they’ll rarely risk an encounter with a human, coyotes live in the area and pray on small game in the park after sundown.
Sloan's Lake Loop Trail is extremely popular with runners, and it is a safe place to run in the city if you’re going it solo. It’s very flat, well-paved and maintained, and well-marked 2.6- mile loop that circumnavigates the entire lake. Bikers, rollerbladers, and dog walkers frequent the trail as well. There’s hardly a better way to get a view of Denver’s energetic skyline than as you’re gazing across the placid lake.
One of the most anticipated events of the year is the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Droves of people flock to the park to get a peek at the athletes and experience good food, on-shore events, and live music. It’s definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the area.