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Affectionately called "Denver's Backyard," Cherry Creek Lake and State Park provide recreation opportunities for families from all over. Located in Aurora, Colorado in Arapahoe County, the lake is just ten miles southeast of downtown Denver. With over 800 acres of water surrounded by almost 4,000 acres of land, Cherry Creek is sure to offer something to please everyone.
Cherry Creek Dam, the dam that created Cherry Creek Lake or Reservoir, was the first of three dams built on the South Platte River. The dam impounds the water from Cherry Creek, a tributary of the river. Along with Chatfield Dam and Bear Creek Dam, Cherry Creek Dam was built to help protect Denver and stop over 100 years of flooding. Construction on the dam began in 1948 with Cherry Creek Lake reaching full pool in 1950.
Fishing is very popular on the lake especially on the weekends. Its location makes it a popular destination for urban fishermen. A state record walleye was caught in the lake making it an irresistible lure for walleye fishermen, particularly from mid-May to early June. Anglers can also catch catfish, crappie and stocked trout, and during winter months, the lake is a great place for ice fishing. Boaters will find everything they need at the lake's full service marina. Jet skis and water skis are both popular on the lake, and there are rentals available. During the summer, visitors can also swim in designated swimming areas.
The lake and surrounding park are managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which maintains over 35 miles of multi-use trails, 12 miles of which are paved. The trails may be used for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. There is a horse stable for boarding and rentals. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking through Cherry Creek's natural prairie environment with its gently rolling hills, and bird watching. Bald eagles, red tailed hawks, northern harriers, and various waterfowl all make their homes at Cherry Creek Lake.
Families can camp at one of the park's campgrounds or picnic at one of the many picnic areas. Cherry Creek's "backyard" reputation makes it particularly family friendly. There is also a great off leash Dog Park so even four legged family members will feel at home. Visitors can pass their time watching model airplanes take off and land on the park's airfield, complete with paved runways, or enjoy shooting at the archery / rifle range. The fun isn't limited to summer months, however, and in the winter the park is open for sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snow tubing. There are even some winter campsites available and ice fishing when the lake freezes.
With its natural beauty and many amenities it is no wonder that Cherry Creek Lake was chosen as the site for Pope John Paul II's World Youth Day in 1993. Its beautiful water, abundant recreation opportunities, and proximity to all that Denver has to offer makes Cherry Creek Lake the perfect spot for a family getaway.
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