Happy Birthday, America! The United States is officially 241 years old tomorrow, which definitely calls for some celebration. We're guessing you'd spend your holiday somewhere tropical if given the choice (who wouldn't?), but we're also guessing 2,000 miles of travel to the nearest ocean is a bit of a stretch.
Lucky for us, Colorado is home to several bodies of water that feature beach-style fun for a fraction of the cost of a lengthy vacation. With just a little imagination (and some squinting of the eyes), these destinations will make you swear you’re in the Bahamas this 4th of July.
For a quick look at "beaches" closest to you, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife state park map. You can filter by "swim beach" under the facility type drop-down, which gives you a neat picture of the places near you to get your tan/swim/nap on. Would you rather take our word for it? Here are some of The Dime's faves.
Chatfield State Park (Littleton)
This beach is famously popular with Denver locals for its pristine beach conditions and panoramic views of the Rockies. The beach is open from sunrise to sunset, and offers activities like water skiing, paddle boating, sailing, and fishing. The grassy part of the park is also dog-friendly, but unfortunately, your furry friends aren't welcome on the beach.
P.S. Due to a fire ban this season, the park is not allowing fireworks or open fires that aren't in a designated grill structure.
Jackson Lake (Fort Morgan)
Rated one of the top 15 best park beaches in the country, Jackson Lake is a primo spot for all of your July 4th activities. If you're lucky enough to own a boat (or lucky enough to know someone who does), the park is a great place to get out on the water. If you don't have your own, the park's Shoreline Marina offers boat rentals that you can reserve for the day.
Great Sand Dunes National Park (Alamosa)
Calling all thrill-seekers: summer doesn't mean the end of sledding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This nifty Colorado attraction has special "sand sleds" that promise a seriously good time (check out a video here). For those wanting to chillax, the Medano Creek is right next door, and provides a nice shoreline for you to pop a squat with your lounge chair. Hellooo relaxation station.
Did someone say beer garden? In typical Boulder fashion, the Boulder Reservoir's 4th of July celebration includes a beachside café along with beer tents that are open to the public throughout the day. While the swim area closes at 4:00 PM, the 700-acre park has plenty of activities to fill the daytime. If you've got little ones in your camp, the reservoir also provides a licensed lifeguard to make sure your only concern is how to maximize your fun.
Fees into each park range from as little as $3 to $10 per person.
No matter how you choose to spend the big 241, all of us at The Dime are wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July. We'd also love to hear about your holiday, so hit us up on Facebook and Twitter!