Jump on in — the water’s fine!

Southwest reservoirs are some pretty sweet places to set sail, swim, paddle, row, float, drift, fish, cast, dive, dunk, carve, wake, splash and plenty more. Here are a few spots to check out.

lake nighthorse
Aerial view of Lake Nighthorse at sunsetTerrance Siemon
Lake Nighthorse
Durango, Colorado; Surface Area 1,500

The long-awaited access to Lake Nighthorse is now open for fun. Anglers, paddlers, SUPs, swimmers, water skiers and wakeboarders will love it here. Aimed for families and day use, it’s also stocked full of rainbow and brown trout, and Kokanee salmon — and the bald eagles know that too. At two miles from downtown Durango and minutes from any and all kinds of recreation, Lake Nighthorse adds to the attraction of an already coveted destination.

blue mesa reservoir
The Dillon Pinnacles rise above Blue Mesa Reservoir.Tiona Eversole
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Gunnison, Colorado; Surface Area: 9,180

At 20 miles long, Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water with 96 miles of shoreline. Part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area just outside Gunnison, the reservoir has two marinas, one restaurant on the water and is a hot spot for both salmon and trout fishing. Mountain biking Hartman’s Rocks in Gunnison is world class. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is where serious big wall climbers go in Colorado, and nearby Crested Butte is a quintessential Colorado mountain town, making this entire area a place to roll.

mcphee reservoir
Submerged under the waters of McPhee Reservoir is the old town of McPhee.Tiona Eversole
McPhee Reservoir
Dolores, Colorado; Surface Area: 5,000

Named for the town of McPhee, Colorado, a once thriving lumber village of 1,500 people that supplied a significant portion of the lumber to the state of Colorado, the lumber mill closed its doors in 1946. Today McPhee Reservoir has more than 380,000 acre-feet of water with 50 miles of shoreline, making it Colorado’s fifth largest reservoir. The Dolores River feeds into the reservoir, which was created to supply water to the surrounding communities. Nestled in the canyon is the small community of Dolores, a hip collection of Victorian houses and clusters of outdoor aficionados. McPhee offers boating, camping and hiking and general all-around water recreation. Plus, it’s close to classic mountain biking at Boggy Draw.

sand hollow state park
Take the SUPs out at this desert oasis near Hurricane, Utah.Terrance Siemon
Sand Hollow State Park
Hurricane, Utah; Surface Area 1,322

This scenic reservoir in Sand Hollow State Park below the Pine Valley Mountains of southern Utah makes up some of the 20,000 acres of the state’s newest state park, with 6,000 acreage of dry land space dedicated to Off Highway Vehicle use at the water’s edge. The deep-orange sandstone dunes and bluffs make for cool exploring, OHV and even equestrian use.  There are OHV and boat rentals located in the park and you can even go scuba diving and earn your scuba certification from professional instructors. Rumor has it an old bus, an old plane and some other creepy stuff can be seen in the abyss of the lake.

This post originally appeared in August 2019.