Looking to cleanse your soul in the river or cure your ailments in healing spring waters? This summer you can wash away your troubles in these stellar swimming holes near Denver, provided by man and Mother Nature herself. Take a dip (and chips), relax on the shoreline or the sandy “beaches,” and bask in the sunshine and beauty that is ColoRADo. We’re a truly fortunate bunch to live in the midst of such richness and vibrancy, so go out and take the plunge!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Boulder Creek
This nearly 32-mile creek draining the Rockies west of Boulder turns into a lively "adult" playground come summertime. It's a popular spot for taking a cool dip, tubing, fly fishing, wading...and indulging in general mirth and cheer. Bring your Chacos, your towel, and your free-wheeling attitude and have a ball!
2. Aurora Reservoir
As one of the city's largest park and open space sites, the Aurora Reservoir boasts over 800 acres of water for swimming, fishing, and non-motorized boating, plus a sandy beach for sunbathing. (And be sure to check out their AWQUA Lounge to learn how the reservoir's water becomes Denver's drinking water).
3. Eldorado Springs Pool
At the base of Eldorado Canyon State Park lies this historic treasure, the Eldorado Springs Pool, which has been a popular spot for Denverites since 1905. From Eldorado's artesian spring, the water flows into the pool at 76° and is maintained at 80° by a heating system. The water is such a rich hue, that people often assume it's dyed, but for the record, it's 100% au naturale.
4. Chatfield Reservoir
With a 1,500-acre surface area and an expansive swim beach, the Chatfield Reservoir is a grand place to recreate or relax this summer. Swim or engage in a number of other available activities, such as boating, horseback riding, and bird watching. (There are over 200 bird species here, including bald eagles, white pelicans, and burrowing owls).
5. Grand Lake
At the headwaters of the Colorado River lies Grand Lake, Colorado's largest and deepest natural lake (and its namesake town). The lake is roughly a mile in length and width, with a maximum depth of 265'. There's a private yacht club, public boat ramps, a public dock, and publicly and privately owned marinas...and they even host sailing races. (FYI: The Ute Tribe called it Spirit Lake and believed that departed souls dwell in its chilly waters.)
6. The Cache La Poudre River
This river in Fort Collins just may boast the best, most authentic swimming holes near Denver! Rope swing into this paradise near Legacy Park or at Picnic Rock up the Poudre Canyon northwest of town. And as you can imagine, Picnic Rock has picnic tables and BBQ grills, as well as restrooms and a "beach" area. (Note: Be VERY aware of appropriate water levels, as they are often too high in the spring and early summer).
7. Cherry Creek Reservoir
Want to feel the sand between your toes while marveling at the beauty of the surrounding scenery? Head over to the Cherry Creek Reservoir and take a plunge! It may not be the coast, but it's close enough for Denver.
8. Mount Princeton Hot Springs
See those lovely little turquoise pools in the Chalk Creek Canyon at the base of the surrounding Collegiate Peaks? That's the glorious Mount Princeton Hot Springs, complete with soaking pools, an exercise pool, creekside springs, and a historic Bath House that was established in 1867. Make it an overnight venture by staying in one of their many lodging options, or head into the neighboring towns of Salida and Buena Vista for more quality exploration.
9. Horsetooth Reservoir
On a superbly hot and sunny day, take a hike (or bike) at the scenic 2,711-acre Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, then cool off in the reservoir and have a leisurely lunch on the shoreline. (On the South Bay, there is a great swim beach, picnic area, and facilities). It's splendid!
10. Glenwood Hot Springs
Even though it's a bit of a jaunt from Denver, it would be remiss of me not to mention the home of the "World's Largest Hot Springs Pool" created by Mother Nature herself. A spring has been delivering soothing, restorative waters rich in minerals to heal those who soak in them since 1888. Go take a nice long dip in Mother's Nature's magical, powerful soaking sanctuary. (Fun fact: Three and a half million gallons of water still flow from the spring every day)!
11. Big Soda Lake
This popular swimming hole at Bear Creek Lake Park with its stellar scenery, sandy swim beach and 400' lap-swimming lane, is a great place to savor a day with friends and family this summer. Also on site is a playground, volleyball courts, a concession stand, and boat rentals that include canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and paddle boards. You can even wakeboard or waterski! Yippee!
Want to share your secret swimming holes near Denver with the rest of us Mile Highers? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!