LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The swim beach at Big Soda Lake has become so popular with people seeking a respite from staying at home that it will be closed temporarily beginning Saturday.
Drew Sprafke, regional park supervisor for the city of Lakewood, said they saw record crowds starting in March and have been seeing similar trends in all of Lakewood's parks.
Sprafke said an estimated 500 to 800 people from across the Denver metro area crowded onto the sand and water at Big Soda Lake last Sunday.
"Our swim beach and marina were pretty much overflowing with people, with very little social distancing," he said. "It looked just like a summer weekend out here."
The park supervisor said the city of Lakewood and Jefferson County health officials decided to close the swim beach and marina to help prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus.
Visitor Anne Drabkin said the move gives her mixed emotions.
"It's a shame," she said. "It's beautiful out here. It's great to get some fresh air and to get the kids out of our tiny cramped house. But of course, if there is a risk of spreading the virus, or contracting the virus, then I absolutely support any effort on the part of the city, or the county, to limit that."
Jessica Jakupcak, a young mom visiting the beach with her two children, said she understands the closure.
"Like everyone, we want to get back to normal, but we want to be safe," she said.
Some boys out paddleboarding on Big Soda Lake told Denver7 they didn't think much about the planned closure.
"Being at home is really boring," said Gavin Kern. "This is the only fun thing we can do. At home, all we do is sit there and do nothing."
The other boy, Griffin Niedzielski, said the closure is discouraging.
"This is our only chance to get outside and have fun," he said.
Sprafke emphasized that this is not a park closure — it's just the swim beach and marina at Big Soda Lake.
"It doesn't include the rest of the park. So there are still lots of opportunities: 20 miles of dirt trail, six miles of paved trial," he said. "There's Bear Creek Reservoir still available for fishing. So there are a lot of opportunities out here, just not Big Soda Lake."
He added that park rangers will be focusing on education first.
"We won't be letting anybody stay in the facility," he said. "They will be asked to leave, and if they don't comply, our rangers will have the option of using citations. We hope we don't have to do that. We'd really like voluntary compliance on this, just helping everybody to be safe."