UPDATED AUG 18, 2020
Before you dive head-first into your local pool, consider this: CO's best swimming holes are only a day-adventure away. And we've put a list together with some of the best.
This makes the top of the list for popularity. And while it’s popular by convenience, it’s also a natural beauty at the heart of Boulder. Sure, you may have to share the creekside with families cooking out, college kids daydrinking, and give way to some cyclists cruising up Boulder Creek Path. But that’s kind of the beauty of this place, right? Everyone can enjoy this slice of heaven, posted up on a rock, hanging ten on a slackline, or floating on a tube.
Check out this watering hole for some of the best cliff jumping around Durango. Don't get caught on the location's name. If you prefer to spectate the big air from a safe distance while keeping your cool, there are some shallow pools and beaches for a more leisurely approach. If you jump, be smart — spot your landing, or go with a vet before you jump from the high dive.
Somewhere near mile-marker 50 along Independence Pass is another spot deserving of a formal shoutout. Here, you'll again find cliff jumping, with 18- and 30-foot ledges. They're not always a safe bet. But one thing you can count on? Cold temperatures and relatively mild traffic. The hike in from Grottos Trailhead turns some just looking for a cool photo op away. But be sure to note that this the road into this gem closes soon after the leaves turn in the fall.
King Solomon Falls is the legendary swimming hole on the middle fork of the Little Snake River. You’ll need a good pair of hikers, a solid chunk of daylight, and keen sense of direction to find this gem. Like most hidden treasures, the adventure starts long before you reach the falls, with ropes and some delicate balancing acts to get you to the main event. You’ll also likely need good clearance on your car once you leave CR 129. Rugged is a word we'd use.
With a mellow, half-mile hike to the finish, this swimming hole near Cripple Creek can be a happening place on the weekends. But hey, sometimes you need a crowd to cheer you on to get you off the ledge. Daredevils, be sure to scope out the rocks, current, and depth as you scramble to the top. ALWAYS. Everyone else, have fun on the small rocky beach.
The Potholes near Glade Park bring a crowd in the summer, and you’ll know why on the first sight of the falls. The scenery is pretty spectacular, both on the drive in and the short hike in. And while there is beach and some front seats to the main attraction, this drop is only for seasoned cliff jumpers and ONLY in the summer months. While the waterfalls break the surface tension for a soft(er) landing, it can also have the dreaded washing machine effect.
Just outside Aspen and coming in at 11,200 feet are Conundrum Hot Springs. You can only access it via an 8.5-mile hike with a 2,400-foot elevation gain on the Conundrum Creek Trail. So if you plan to camp, know that a permit is required. And heads up: it’s clothing-optional. But don’t worry — with views like these, nobody’s looking at what you’re wearing (or not).
Like most canyon rivers, the Poudre is certainly no force to be reckoned with (the current can be really strong). But, just because the spring season isn’t so kind to the leisurely swimmers, that doesn’t mean that the hotter months don’t also lend to milder flows. We’d encourage you to keep your guard up, but we might also steer your attention to some more mellow swimming spots, like Picnic Rock, only three miles up the canyon.
It no secret that on a hot summer day, Boulder Reservoir can feel a little cramped for space. So, if you’re not opposed to a drive and you’re looking for a bit more space, check out Chatfield State Park just southwest of Littleton. It’s definitely a bumpin’ spot for boats, paddleboards, and even hot air balloons, but the views of the mountains are unreal, and there’s even more waterfront to explore either by boat or by bike.
Somewhere in that forgotten corner of Colorado—past Pueblo and east toward Kansas—you’ll find Two Buttes, Colorado. When you're not on the water at the Two Buttes Reservoir, look for the steep walls and sheer drops of The Black Hole on the opposite side of the dam. While it may not be worth the trip alone, this swim and cliff jumping of the lagoon adds a little bit of adventure to your boating weekend.
South of Gunnison, this place is not for the faint of heart. BUT, if you like a sweet reward after a few miles of blissful views, you’ll take this swim spot for its potential thrill. The first of many swimming holes is roughly three miles from the Bridgeport trailhead, and hitting all the swimming spots could triple your milage, so you'll want to stay a while! Luckily, there’s established camping outside the wilderness area and backpacking is popular within the canyon. Fitt Tip: This terrain is unforgiving — bring a map and some plenty of water.
Strawberry Park is popular with the winter crowd and makes for one hell of an après-ski experience after a day on the slopes at Steamboat. The natural mineral hot springs measure in at a balmy 104 degrees, which we think make them a cozy spot in the summer, too. The only downside is that we're not the first to think that way; you'll be sharing space in the water.
Just outside Gunnison, spanning 20 miles in length and with 96 miles of shoreline, Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest body of water in Colorado. There are no designated swimming beaches, but that doesn’t stop many people from getting in the water. And if you aren’t up for a dip, you can rent a paddleboard, canoe, kayak, or even pontoon.
Blue Mesa may be the largest body of water in Colorado, but Grand Lake is our state’s largest and deepest natural lake. It has over 60 miles of surface water length, all flowing from Rocky Mountain National Park. The park surrounds the lake on three sides, making for the perfect opportunity to start your day with some hiking or biking and end it with a dip in the snowmelt to cool off.
Hit up Great Sand Dunes NP for some outdoor adventure and then cool off at Medano Creek. It sits conveniently right at the edge of the dunes in Alamosa, so you can lay on the beach or swim in the water while you soak in some stunning mountain views. It's pretty much everything you love about Colorado.
Situated in the sweet small town of Bailey, Wellington Lake is a serene spot for swimming and chilling. The 167-acre lake is everything you want, with blue waters and amazing views. Hang around for camping, hiking, mountain biking, and all things summer fun.
A word of caution: Rocks are hard and can hurt you. Please be extra careful out there!
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