Activities at BCLP

Swimming and Paddle Sports (Big Soda Lake)

Paddle boat on Big Soda Lake

Big Soda Lake and Bear Creek Reservoir open at 20% capacity for shoreline use and paddle craft. 

Blue-green algae is present in BIG SODA LAKE AND the reservoir. No Swimming. Do not allow dogs in water.

Bear Creek Lake Park’s Big Soda Lake and the Bear Creek Reservoir are open to paddle craft and shoreline use only, at a limited capacity on a first-come, first-served basis. Rocky Mountain Paddleboard is open by reservation at

In order to meet public health orders, capacity to Big Soda Lake is reduced to 20% through limited parking and designated use areas. Lake users should plan to arrive early; capacity closures are expected and a full park closure is possible. Reservations are not being accepted for swim beach and paddle sports use. Visit Bear Creek Lake Park on Facebook for closure updates. Boats requiring an A.N.S inspection are not allowed.


Harmful levels of blue-green algae at Big Soda Lake required its closure to swimming beginning Aug. 27. Staff does not expect that Big Soda Lake will reopen to swimming this year. Learn more.

  • Typically open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (No swimming. Avoid contact with the water. Do not allow pets in water. Beach open for shoreline use only.)
  • No lifeguards on duty.
  • Concession stand. (Currently closed.)
  • Picnic sites.
  • Lap swimming lane: Three orange buoys mark out 50 yard intervals for a total one-way distance of 150 yards or 137 meters. The lane has been moved to the west of the swim beach. (Currently closed.)
  • Playground and two sand volleyball courts.
  • The beach picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
  • Personal charcoal grills are prohibited in the park. Propane grills are allowed, however grills are not allowed on the sand area and must not sit directly on the turf grass.
  • Smoking is not permitted on the beach, surrounding turf grass areas, playgrounds or picnic shelters.
  • Dogs are not permitted on the sand area at the beach. (Do not allow pets in water.)

Rocky Mountain Paddleboard Rentals

  • Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are typically available to rent during the summer season. 
  • Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) classes and group rates are offered.
  • Book times at or call 720-943-1132.

Limited to non-motorized craft. All trailered boats and sailboats must be inspected prior to launching.

Archery Range

The 10-yard range targets will be reserved on August 19 from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for a city program. The rest of the archery range will be open. 

Use of the archery range is included in the park admission fee. The range features:

  • 12 bale targets, ranging from 10 to 80 yards
  • One moveable target for longer range practice
  • Two small shade shelters
  • Picnic tables

Archery equipment is not available for rent. 

Range Rules

  • No broad heads. Use field or target tips only
  • No shooting after sunset
  • Shoot only from designated positions
  • Shoot only toward designated targets
  • Do not shoot toward or harass wildlife
  • Do not move toward target until all archers have finished shooting
  • Children under 16 must be supervised by an adult
  • Users may provide their own targets; however, they need to be placed in front of the existing targets 



Boat ramps are currently closed to all boats requiring an ANS inspection (any watercraft with gas or electric motors and sailboats).

General Guidelines

  • Boating on Bear Creek Reservoir is limited to a motor size of 10hp or less.
  • Big Soda Lake is limited to non-motorized boats only.
  • No private boats are permitted on Little Soda Lake.

Boating Information

The boat ramps at Bear Creek Reservoir and Big Soda Lake will be open from park opening until 2 hours before park closing. No boats will be allowed to launch after this time.

(This does not apply to non-motorized canoes, kayaks, rafts, paddleboats, windsurfers or belly boats)

Boat Launch Hours

  • March-April 30: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • May-September: 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • October: 7 a.m.- 6 p.m.
  • November 1-November 15: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Boat ramps are closed November 15-March 15 annually, pending conditions.

Boat Inspections

To help prevent the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species, inspections are required for all motorized boats, sailboats and fishing boats prior to launching on Bear Creek Reservoir or Big Soda Lake.
Boat Inspection Details

  • Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are available to rent from May 16-Sept. 27, 2020.
  • Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) classes and group rates are offered.
  • Details at or call 720-943-1132.

Limited to non-motorized craft. All trailered boats and sailboats must be inspected prior to launching.


Bear Creek Lake Park is home to one of the closest, full-service campgrounds to the Denver metro area and features 47 campsites with electrical hookup, two yurts, three cabins (open year-round) and one group site that can hold up to 25 people.

View Camping Details

Educational Programs

Bear Creek Lake Park hosts events and ongoing programs throughout the year, including Campfire Programs and Grin and Bear It. For a full listing, visit the park events page.

Park Events & Programs

Group Programs

Bear Creek Lake Park is an ideal outdoor classroom. The programs we offer are hands-on experiences designed to provide a positive and fun outdoor learning environment for all participants. We have many different habitats that will enhance any group’s educational experience.

The Park Naturalist can introduce a variety of natural resources to enhance environmental education in your curriculum. Families can also take advantage of our many programs and learn about the great outdoors all year long.

Schedule a Group Program 

Educational nature programs are available for schools, preschools, homeschools, daycares, senior assisted living centers and boy/girl scouts. Topics include bats, bears, birds of prey, camping safety, ecosystems, insects, mammals, plants, scout badges and wetlands.     

To schedule an educational nature program, fill out the request below. If you have questions, contact Lindsay Gillis at 303-697-6157 or

Nature Program Request

Equestrian Use

Trail System

  • Approximately 15 miles of multi-use dirt trails, including open meadows, creek side trails, and wide-ranging views from Mount Carbon.
  • Trail connections to the Bear Creek Greenbelt.
  • Horses are not allowed on the Owl Trail, Fitness Trail, Cottonwood Trail and sections of the Fisherman’s Trail.
  • Horses are required to remain on designated trails and should not ride cross-country.  

Bear Creek Stables

Get the feeling of the Old West by trying your hand at horseback riding! The stables offer nature rides, hay rides, lessons, summer camps and evening rides.
Reservations are encouraged.
Open Apr - Oct.
Call 303-697-9666 or visit Bear Creek Stables website.

Horse Arena/Trailer Parking
A public horse arena is located on the south side of the park, near the stables. It is a great place to warm up before a ride or to work on your skills. Water is available.

There are three parking lots that accommodate horse trailers:

  • Horse Arena Lot: Use of this lot is highly encouraged because it provides access to the Mount Carbon and Turkey Creek trails.
  • Cottontail Picnic Area
  • Whitetail Picnic Area

View Park and Trail Map(PDF, 296KB)


Bear Creek Lake

  • The lake is stocked once or twice per month in the summer.
  • Fish species include rainbow trout, saugeye, small-mouth bass, yellow perch and the occasional tiger muskie or walleye.
  • All state fishing and boating regulations apply and are enforced.
  • Ice fishing allowed at your own risk.
  • Minimum size for walleye/saugeye is 15 inches.
  • Only one saugeye longer than 21 inches can be taken per day.

Bear Creek River

  • Artificial flies and lures only
  • Bag and possession limit for trout (except rainbow) is 2
  • All rainbow trout must be returned to the water immediately

Learn more about fishing in Lakewood.


(PDF, 296KB)Download the Trail Map(JPG, 721KB)

Dogs in the Park

Always keep your dogs on a leash and under control, it's the law. Dogs are not permitted on the sand area in the beach.

Clean up after your pets: take the pledge.

Soft Surface Trails

The park features nearly 15 miles of soft-surface (primarily dirt) trails for users of all abilities. Most trails are open to horses, pedestrians and mountain bikes.

The trails in the park are: 

  • Owl Trail: 0.7-mile loop, 0.5-mile extension. Hiker Only. Very nice trail through a riparian area.
  • Cowen Trail: 1.4 miles. Short grass prairie hike through the former Cowen town site. 
  • Fisherman’s Trail: 1.3 miles. Scenic trail along the shore of Bear Creek Reservoir, with access to many fishing sites.
  • Mount Carbon Loop: 6.9 miles. A long loop around the park, featuring the park’s highest point.
  • North Park Trail: 2.2 miles. Hilly trail through the short grass prairie on the north side of the park.
  • Cottonwood Trail: 1.1 miles. A winding trail through the riparian area along Bear Creek.

Paved Trails

These trails provide connections to two regional paved trail systems. These trails are plowed in the winter, providing great opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts year-round: 

  • The Bear Creek Trail, connecting the South Platte corridor to Morrison.
  • The C-470 trail, connecting a large portion of the south and west Denver metro area   

Trail Etiquette

Be courteous, communicate and listen. The trails are for everyone! Please help ensure that ALL trail users have a good trail experience.

View Trail Rules


  • Yield to ALL other trail users
  • Slow to a safe passing speed
  • Make calm and friendly verbal contact prior to passing
  • Dismount for equestrians and make every effort to avoid frightening other users 


  • Avoid blocking the trail
  • Yield to equestrians

Please help us protect your trails! 

  • Avoid using wet or muddy trails
  • Avoid leaving the trail surface to pass
  • Follow proper yielding guidelines
  • Remain on designated trails
  • Stay on trail surface through puddles
  • Travel at a safe speed
  • Clean up after your pets
  • Leave no trace!


Waterski and Wake (closed)

Rocky Mountain Ski and Wake, Little Soda Lake

  • Water ski, wakeboard, wakesurf and tube from May 23 to Sept. 27, 2020.
  • Half-day water ski and full-day water ski/stand-up paddleboard (SUP) camps for all ability levels.
  • Group rates and water ski workshops are offered.
  • Reservations are recommended.
  • Details at or call 303-697-0121.


Wildlife Viewing

The 2,600 acres of open space at Bear Creek Lake Park is a great place to see Colorado’s wildlife. With prairie, wetland and riparian ecosystems, many animals call the park home and offer making it an ideal place for wildlife viewing. 

Wildlife Viewing Etiquette

  • Be respectful. Use cameras, binoculars and spotting scopes to get close views
  • Keep pets leashed and under control. For your pets and wildlife's safety keep pets leashed and under control at all times
  • Never feed wildlife. Feeding can disrupt an animal’s natural feeding patterns. Let wildlife be wild!

Wildlife Tips

  • Most animals are active in the early evening and morning. Plan your trip at these times
  • Be quiet and wait. Pick a safe spot and wait patiently for wildlife to appear
  • Use all your senses. Listen with your ears and look with your eyes

Signs of an Animal

All animals leave signs of their presence behind. Signs of an animal can include tracks, scat, hair and bones and can be easy to spot.

See something interesting?

Tell us about it! Contact the Visitor's Center at 303-697-6159 or email