You’re in luck if you’re planning a family outing to the water. The area in and around Thornton includes plenty of waterways where you can go fishing, kayaking, and more. Not sure where to go? Let Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree show you some amazing waterways, all located within an hour drive of Thornton, to take the guesswork out of your next plans.

Thornton Lakes

A father and son laughing together while fishing at Thornton Lakes

a father and son fishing” used with permission via Unsplash by phographyurway

You won’t have to travel far at all for a family day. The city of Thornton features a range of lakes ideal for fishing. Cast a line to reel in a variety of warm-water fish species, including bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, perch, and sunfish. Just keep in mind that ice fishing isn’t allowed on Thornton’s lakes, and you’ll otherwise have to follow Colorado Parks and Wildlife fishing regulations.

Most Thornton lakes do not allow boating, wading, or swimming. However, there are some exceptions, such as at Hunters Glen Lake where you can use non-motorized boats for your outing. Though you’ll want to check for specific exceptions if you have a particular Thornton lake in mind to visit, most lakes in the city are open throughout the year from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. In other words, if you’re looking for an easy way to enjoy some time fishing with the kids, our hometown has you covered.

Barr Lake State Park

Head over to Brighton when you’re seeking out water-based adventure the whole family is sure to love. That’s where you’ll find Barr Lake State Park, the place to go when it’s time for a fun day outdoors. Barr Lake boasts calm waters, making it the perfect place for a visit whether you’re looking for fishing or you want to go boating, kayaking, or canoeing.

So, what can you catch if you’re here for the fishing? Plenty of fish make their home in Barr Lake, including small and large-mouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, rainbow trout, tiger muskie, walleye, and wiper.

All vessels can use the lake. However, the park limits powerboats to electric trolling or gasoline motors to 10 horsepower or less, helping to maintain the calm atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, boating is not permitting in the Wildlife Refuge located in the park.

If you’re in need of a break from the water, Barr Lake State Park also features an array of other activities to fill your day. From bicycling to nature hikes to horseback riding and more, there’s something for everyone here. Barr Lake State Park is particularly ideal for birdwatching, as over 350 species can be spotted here, including bald eagles that winter at the lake.

Cherry Creek State Park

Located in Aurora, Cherry Creek State Park offers another easy-to-reach lake that features plenty of year-round activities. The park features public boat launches at both entrances. The East Boat ramp is open every day, while the West Boat ramp is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The park is also a popular local spot for quality fishing, and you can fish from a boat or the shore. You can also come here for ice fishing when conditions allow that activity.

It’s not just typical boating and fishing activities you’ll find in Cherry Creek State Park, though. The Cherry Creek Reservoir is a flagship location of Community Sailing of Colorado, so an assortment of sailing programs including youth summer camps, adaptive sailing, and more take place here. When the lake is open to boating, you can also go water skiing. You can rent jet skis and boats, too.

The popular park features various unique activities, including a spot to fly model airplanes. Keep in mind that summer weekends often mean the park reaches capacity. If you’re looking for a low-key visit, you might try an off-peak time like a weekday, early or late hours, or a visit in early spring or late fall.

Chatfield State Park

Chatfield State Park is yet another amazing place to visit when you want to explore the water. You’ll find Chatfield in Littleton, treating you to scenic views of foothills and the Platte River valley while you enjoy all the perks of the great outdoors.

Boating is one of the most popular activities available in this park. From water skiing to sailing, paddling to fishing, there’s something for everyone here. Chatfield Marina even offers a courtesy dock, temporary moorage, and a rental fleet of both power and paddling equipment.

You can’t go wrong with Chatfield if you want to spend a day fishing. You can find bass, bluegill, carp, channel catfish, crappie, sunfish, trout, walleye, and yellow perch here. Open water fishing starts in the spring, and you can catch a variety of fish during summer months. You can even come here for ice fishing in the winter if conditions permit.

And that’s just the start. You can go jet skiing and water skiing on the reservoir, and sailboarding and paddleboarding are both allowed on the reservoir and gravel ponds. Chatfield State Park is an ideal place for some summertime swimming, too. The swim beach here is open from May’s Memorial Day weekend through September’s Labor Day weekend, sunrise to sunset each day.

Bear Creek Lake Park

Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood may not technically be a state park, but it sure offers the size and activities you’d find at a state park. The 2,624 acres offer fishing, boating, windsurfing, swimming, and much more. A few different waterways mean endless opportunities for outdoor fun.

If you want to go boating, keep in mind the 10-horsepower motor limit on Bear Creek Reservoir. Only non-motorized boats are permitted on Big Soda Lake, while no private boats can use Little Soda Lake.

You’ll have a range of fishing opportunities, too. Head to Bear Creek Lake for rainbow trout, saugeye, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and some tiger muskie and walleye. You can also fish at Bear Creek River, though you can only use artificial flies and lures there.

That concludes Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree’s list of waterways to check out close to home. Did we miss your family’s go-to local spot? Let us know so we can add your recommendation!