Sloan's Lake is a stunning 177-acre outdoor oasis, with a beautiful body of water and a surrounding park in the heart of Denver. It's Denver's second-largest park and the city's largest body of water - but at one point in history, a lake didn't even exist at this location, nor was it intentional.

Before the 1860s, the area that's now Sloan's Lake was just a road that connected Denver to the city of Golden. In 1861, Thomas Sloan received a patent for the farmland and used it to raise cattle and for other agricultural purposes.

History has it that Sloan accidentally tapped into a water aquifer while digging a well to irrigate his west Denver property. As a result, the lake spread to a whopping 200 acres overnight.

Locals flocked to the scene to confirm rumors of a new body of water. At first, Denverites began calling the area “Sloan’s Leak” and “Sloan Lake." The name was debated for over a century, but eventually “Sloan’s Lake” was chosen.

The Sloan family used their lakeshore property as a prosperous source of income and soon enough, Sloan's Lake became a popular recreational attraction in the city. An ice house offered indoor activities, plus visitors could also boat, swim, and ice skate on the lake, too.

In 1872, Thomas M. Sloan sold his property after placing an advertisement in the Rocky Mountain News for the sale of “the best farm in Colorado.”

About 20 years later, Manhattan Beach amusement park was built on the north shore of Sloan's Lake. When the park opened in 1891, it was considered the largest amusement park west of the Mississippi and featured a zoo, a skating rink, a theater, and more.

Kelsey Nistel, TSM
Kelsey Nistel, TSM

After a series of unfortunate events, the amusement park permanently closed in 1914.

Nowadays, Sloan's Lake Park is still a beloved location bustling with activity. From paddleboarders and bikers to walkers, sunset watchers, and picnickers, this special place provides an outdoor retreat in an otherwise urban setting.

The boundaries of Sloan's Lake are 29th Avenue to the North, 17th Avenue to the South, Federal Boulevard to the East, and Sheridan Boulevard to the West. There are several parking lots around the lake, as well as bike racks.

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Gallery Credit: Kelsey Nistel

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