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Colorado's Chatfield Reservoir a paddler's paradise after water rises 10 feet in recent weeks

High water levels at Chatfield Reservoir have residents enjoying outdoor recreation
High water levels at Chatfield Reservoir have residents enjoying outdoor recreation 02:10

Chatfield Reservoir, which straddles Douglas and Jefferson counties, has a different appearance after the spring rain.

It looks more like a bayou than a lake located in the middle of Colorado. It's become a paddler's paradise. 

One woman summed it up, saying, "we can get into all of the trees, there is shade, so we are not out in the sun. It's great."


The water level here rose 10 vertical feet in eight days during the month of May.

And with it, Park Manager Kris Wahlers says, has come opportunities. 

"It's opened up a lot of surface areas, acres and a lot of areas within those trees that people are really enjoying enjoy fishing. And especially stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking."

Chatfield was created after a disastrous flood in 1965 inundated Denver. The reservoir was expanded a few years ago, in time for this year's rains.  

"It would've flooded a lot of our buildings, electrical, sewage," Wahlers noted. "It would've caused a lot of damage in the park as well."

For now, the high water has been a plus.

One man working, had a paddle boat rental business said, "that's attracting a lot of people. They want to paddle through the trees, things like that."

And the high water means more water for Denver and beyond for drinking, watering and other uses. 

One downside is posted on a sign at the entrance to the park, "beware of debris."

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