In the bow seat, Nyla uses a kayak paddle to provide locomotion as Silas watches water slide off his paddle into the chilly mountain waters. We slowly cross a narrow finger of the reservoir towards a rocky point. Once we reach the shoreline, the children both stop paddling and let the wind sail us, spinning our boat to their delight, until our stern crashes into the rocks and then whirling about our bow manages to face the cove where we began and I sit up to help them make the last leg of our adventure.
This was our first canoe trip to Gross Reservoir and we made it just at the tail end of the season. The boating season at Gross Reservoir starts on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and ends September 30th. We knew we’d face chillier temperatures this time of year and we brought the right clothing but what we hadn’t counted on was such a windy day! On the drive in we could see white caps from the wind waves and once on the water it was evident that we would not be making a very long paddle. Instead, the children found a giant house rock on the opposite shoreline that we paddled to – making quite the circuitous route – and then tied the boat up and ate lunch.
More information: Denver Water
Location: Gross Reservoir Boat Launch (also known as Osprey Point)
Directions: Google Map to parking lot
Distance: We probably canoed less than a mile on this trip
Difficulty: Besides the “portage” from vehicle to the water at the launch, this tends to be pretty mild.
About the area
Gross Reservoir, named after Denver Water former Chief Engineer Dwight D. Gross, was completed in 1954 and doubles as a water source for Colorado front range communities. It is a beautiful and remote reservoir with over 10 miles of shoreline and no motorized boats (which is a big plus in my book). There is friendly staff at the launch that eagerly played with my children as I was loading/unloading the boat, including giving them whistles (one of the several requirements for boating there). The road in is dirt and bumpy but does not require a high clearance vehicle.
- Beautiful – feels like a high mountain lake
- Less than an hour away from Boulder
- Small but enough twists and coves to make it interesting
- Remote – you don’t see or hear traffic that is present at other reservoirs (such as Horsetooth or Carter) close to Boulder
- Swimming is not permitted (which is pretty tough on the kids)
- Vehicles are not allowed to drive down the boat ramp. From the unloading spot to the water’s edge is a couple hundred feet. It is difficult to carry a canoe by myself – having a boat dolly, another adult, or a lighter boat is helpful.
- The shoreline is rocky and rugged.
- During the high season parking can fill up so the earlier you arrive the better.