Temperatures in Denver climbed past the century mark on the thermometer, yet we were comfortably relaxing on the grass at Dedisse Park, a delightful Denver getaway for families. A refreshing lake breeze cooled us, and we took turns paddling the sparkling waters in our canoe.
We may have been at one of Denver’s most popular parks, but we weren’t in the city. We had escaped to Evergreen Lake, in the heart of the Denver Mountain Parks system.
In the 1860s, Julius and Mary Ann Dedisse began homesteading in the lush hay meadows and timbered slopes lining Bear Creek, in the foothills west of Denver. The city of Denver acquired most of this land in 1919 for a Denver Mountain Park. In 1921, the first mountain golf course was created there.
Five years later, construction of a dam across Bear Creek began, which would create Evergreen Lake. The reservoir became a draw for ice skaters in the winter and boaters and fishers in the summer.
An altitude of just over 7,000 feet above sea level means that temperatures at Evergreen Lake run cooler than in the lowlands of Denver. The water’s surface covers 65 acres, and lies within walking distance of the restaurants and boutiques of downtown Evergreen. Boating starts in late May and is restricted to human-powered, wind-powered, or electric-motor-powered craft. The lake is open for boating sunrise to sunset.
Folks with their own watercraft must check in at the boathouse and pay a $4 fee. Families wishing to rent a boat can check out paddle boats, sailboats, canoes, and fishing boats. They can also buy bait and tackle or drinks and snacks at the boathouse. (A Colorado State fishing license is required for people over 14 years of age who want to try their hands at angling. Licenses are for sale up the road at the Evergreen Safeway store.) Evergreen Lake is stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout and tiger muskie.
The summer Saturday we spent at Evergreen Lake was a busy one for the boathouse workers. They were constantly checking boats in and out, as a steady stream of people arrived. The busiest times seemed to come just before and after lunchtime. Still, we were able to find a nice spot to ourselves on the grass at the water’s edge to enjoy our picnic. When they weren’t canoeing, our boys hiked the trail along the lakeshore, visited the nature center adjacent to the boathouse, and ventured down into town.
When the sun sank toward the western mountains, and the day’s breezes calmed, we packed up our gear and headed back down to Denver. We were a bit windblown, a bit sunburned, not too sweaty, and tired in a good way from our escape to one of the coolest of Denver’s parks.
When You Go:
Phone Number (Evergreen Lake Boating Hotline): 720-880-1390
Website: Evergreen Lake Park www.evergreenrecreation.com , http://evergreenlakehouse.com/summer
Address: 29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen
Directions: From Denver, go west on I-70 to the Evergreen Parkway exit (exit 252) and go south about 7 ½ miles on Evergreen Parkway. As you come down the hill and see the lake, look for the narrow turn off, bearing right down to Upper Bear Creek Road. Turn right onto Upper Bear Creek Road, and travel along Bear Creek to the first entrance way on the left. Cross the small bridge and proceed to the parking lot.
Season: The boathouse is open late May to the end of August, then open on weekends through September. Private boaters may float on the lake until it freezes. Fishing year round.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset for private boating and fishing. Boathouse opens at 10 a.m., last boat rented about 3:30 p.m.
Cost: Private boaters, $4 daily or $35 for the season;
Facilities: 10 picnic tables, 1.25 mile hiking trail, pit-toilets and port-o-lets, boathouse with boat rental, life jacket rental, snacks and drinks for sale, fishing tackle and bait for sale. Private and semi-private sailing lessons are available.
Special Considerations and Notes: Please be familiar and abide by the long list of rules posted by the boathouse. Gas powered engines not allowed on the lake. Life jackets are required for all boating. Please be aware that this is water supply for Evergreen, and so wading and swimming are prohibited (for both humans and dogs).