Under the lazy, rolling hills of the Rocky Mountains and well within eyeshot of the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater sits Big Soda Lake. It’s situated within Bear Creek Lake Regional Park, and it is a serious hot spot for Denver locals in part because it’s a short 20-minute drive from the heart of the city. It’s a small and very calm lake, making it super kid friendly.
Paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, sailboards and paddleboards are available for rent between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but sometimes on a scorching mid-summer day, nothing will do short of a full-on submerge, and Big Soda Lake almost always sits at a cold but agreeable temperature. There’s a 400-foot swimming lane that parallels the shore for those who are looking for a little more than a lounge day, but note that there is never a lifeguard on duty. That said, there is a well-organized fleet of park rangers that are always nearby and well-trained in emergency rescue procedures. Note that there’s a clearly designated swimming area, and going outside of the boundary puts you at risk of getting struck by moving watercraft.
Well-maintained bathrooms and a concession stand are nearby to accommodate the crowds, and there are several beach picnic shelters that operate on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re hoping to nab a shelter for your crew, be sure to arrive early, they fill up fast and people tend to be reluctant to give them up on nice weekend days. There are no barbecues provided, and portable charcoal barbecues are prohibited, but it is permissible to bring along a propane barbecue. There are several sand volleyball courts on the sand, but be sure to bring your own ball. Though the park on the whole is dog-friendly, dogs aren’t allowed on the sandy swim beach.
Want to wake up to these views? Indian Paintbrush Campground is just down the road.