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10 water-inspired activities in Denver for summer

July 25, 2017 / Denver

It’s the week of the shark, but just because you won’t find any in the wilds of Colorado doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate these beautiful, fearsome fish in your own special way. Denver has plenty of water-based activities for lovers of everything H20, so slather on the sunscreen and hit one of these hotspots for a wet n’ wild adventure.


Denver’s top waterfront destinations and water activities


1. Attend the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

Celebrate Colorado’s rich Asian Pacific culture at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, a two-day event that’s family-friendly and free to the public. The only one of its kind in the U.S., this unique celebration features traditional and contemporary performing arts, cuisine, crafts, and a variety of vendors. The highlight of the festival is the action-packed, 20-person dragon boat races on the lake.

When: July 29 – 30, 10:00am
Where: Sloan’s Lake Park, 1700 North Sheridan Blvd., Denver, CO 80232

2. Get soaked at Elitch Gardens

Beat the July heat with a trip to Elitch Gardens, a world-class theme and water park right in the heart of the city. Ride the coasters, hit the arcades, shop the boutiques, and get soaked at the 20-acre, shark-free water park. A big collection of water slides, wild thrill rides, and gentler amusements await here: Tube down Cannonball Falls, spin down the 62-foot corkscrew slide, take a lazy trip down Castaway Creek, or catch a wave in Commotion Ocean.

When: 10:30am – 6pm daily
Where: 2000 Elitch Circle, Denver, CO 80204

3. Sharks at the Downtown Aquarium

Sharks abound at the Denver Downtown Aquarium, and a trip to this world-class facility is just the thing to celebrate everything Selachimorpha. Come face-to-face with zebra sharks, sand tiger sharks, brown sharks, sawfish, and more in a diverse collection of marine exhibits. If you’re a certified SCUBA diver, you can even dive with the resident sharks on Saturdays and Sundays.

When: 10am – 9pm Sun through Thu; 10am – 9:30pm Fri and Sat
Where: 700 Water Street, Denver, CO 80211

4. Go boating in Washington Park

Washington Park is a 155-acre botanical wonderland smack in the middle of Denver, and it’s home to Smith Lake, which offers 18 acres of boating fun. Head to Wheel Fun Rentals and choose from pedal boats, double pedal boats, kayaks, double kayaks, and canoes. The hourly rates are reasonable, and life jackets are included in the rental fee.

When: Daily
Where: S. Downing St & E Louisiana Ave, Denver, CO 80210

5. Hit the Arkansas River for some Whitewater Rafting

Go west, young man or woman, to Buena Vista, and hit the Arkansas River for a hair-raising, white-knuckle whitewater rafting trip. Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting offers half-day, full-day, and overnight trips for families, beginners, and advanced rafters. You can also opt for a rafting-plus-zipline package for some land-lubbing fun as well. 

When: Various times daily
Where: Granite Outpost, 40671 US Hwy. 24 N Buena Vista, CO 81211

6. Tube down Boulder Creek

Whitewater rafting isn’t for everyone. If you prefer a calmer water experience, grab some laid-back pals, pack a cooler, and embark on a lazy float down Boulder Creek. Rent a tube at Whitewater Tubing & Recreation or buy one at any tire store before you arrive.

When: Daily
Where: Put in at Eben G. Fine Park, located at 1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302

7. Stand-up paddleboard on Chatfield Lake

Stand-up paddleboarding, SUP-ing, is the hottest new water sport in the nation, and it’s a great way to experience the water while getting a great workout. Reserve a stand-up paddleboard from Colorado SUP Sports, and head to Chatfield State Park in Littleton for a day on the water. You can also book a SUP yoga class or a SUP GLO nighttime excursion if you’re looking for a little something different.

When: By appointment
Where: 11500 N Roxborough Park Rd, Littleton, CO 80125

8. Kayak at Confluence Park

Confluence Park in Lower Downtown marks the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, and it’s a kayaker’s paradise. Visit Confluence Kayaks to rent a craft. Choose from whitewater kayaks, inflatable single or tandem kayaks, or touring or recreational kayaks. Take to the water for a day of floating fun.

When: Daily
Where: 2250 15th St, Denver, CO 80202

9. Try your hand at fly fishing at North Fork Ranch

North Fork Ranch Guide Service is a full-service fly fishing outfitter located in Shawnee, CO, just 50 miles southeast of Denver. Get everything you need for a peaceful day of fly fishing at one of the several key locations along the South Platte River. If you’re new to the fascinating and challenging world of fly fishing, take the Fly Fishing Clinic, which starts in the classroom and concludes with some real-world practice on the North Fork Ranch pond. 

When: By reservation
Where: 55395 Highway 285, Shawnee, CO 80475

10. Splash around at Water World

Just twenty minutes north of Denver, you’ll find one of the largest and best-rated waterparks in the country. Water World sits on 64 landscaped acres and features more than 46 slides, rides, and other water-based adventures. From thrill rides like Pirate’s Plunge and Screamin’ Mimi to the family-friendly wave pool and Lost River of the Pharaohs rafting ride, there’s something for everyone at Water World.

When: 10am – 6pm daily, weather permitting
Where: 8801 N Pecos St, Federal Heights, CO 80260

Why spend Shark Week on dry land when you can enjoy thrilling adventures on Colorado’s lakes, rivers, and ponds? Get into the spirit, slide into your swimsuit, and explore the wetter side of Denver.