Live, Play, Travel

On the Water: Gross Reservoir

July 29, 2015

Gross Reservoir has been on my “want to SUP” list since last summer when I first got hooked on paddleboarding. I was hoping to make it out there last year but summer went by crazy fast and all of a sudden the lakes in the high country were freezing over and I was dreaming of snowboarding and cyclocross. So it had to wait.

This past week was the first time that everyone was home on a weekend in something like two months so we decided to spend a few low key days in town. My husband is two weeks out from the Breck Epic and needed to get a long ride in on Saturday, so the kidlet and I decided to go for a paddle.

Gross Reservoir is a nestled high in the foothills to the west of Boulder. It is one of the main water supplies for the city of Denver and the city is super protective of it’s most precious resource. Swimming is prohibited and motorized boats are not allowed. This is bad news for boaters but great news if you like to paddle. The only thing that kicks up the water here is the wind that comes rushing off the mountains. And the views definitely don’t suck.

We got a little lost en route to the lake (I’m not sure how – it’s really easy to find) and there were a few times that I considered turning the car around and heading home. The wind had kicked up and I was starting to fear that the water would be too choppy for the little guy. While I have the luxury of standing on the board and staying mostly dry, he sits and gets pretty wet. A cold kid is a grumpy kid and I definitely did not want to paddle with a grumpy kid!

When we finally made it to the Osprey Point boat launch we decided to give it a shot and, man, am I glad that we did. It was a great day.

The best part about Gross Res, and one of the reasons that it’s really fun to paddle, is that it’s full of little coves that you can explore on a board (or kayak or packraft or whatever else you happen to be paddling). While many of the lakes around here are generally just … big round lakes … this one is full of secret spots that you can check out. All those little coves gives this place the added benefit of having a bit more privacy than some of the other lakes in the area. It’s easy to find a quiet spot to tuck away in and feel like you’ve got the place to yourself.

I’m not sure why it took us so long to get and paddle this reservoir but I can tell you that we will definitely be back, hopefully sooner than later. This place is close to the Front Range but feels like it’s way up in the mountains. And maybe the best part? It’s totally free.

If you go: Gross Reservoir is open to car-top nonmotorized boats (think kayaks, canoes, paddle boards) from Memorial Day through September 30th. Because strong afternoon winds are very common in this area (and make paddling a lot harder), it is best to go in the morning on a calm day. There are no rentals onsite so BYOB(oat)!

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