Colorado might be landlocked, but there are still plenty of incredible places to take a swim. Cool off this summer at some of the best and most beautiful swimming spots Colorado has to offer!
Located off the west side of Independence Pass just nine miles outside of Aspen, this popular swimming spot isn’t for the faint of heart. Of the two places in Colorado dubbed “Devil’s Punchbowl”, this one is the easiest to access. Crystal clear water surrounded by 20-foot cliffs await any daredevil brave enough to take the plunge in these icy waters.
Big Dominguez Canyon is a group of swimming holes located south of Grand Junction in the Dominguez – Escalante National Conservation Area. These watering holes feature cascading waterfalls and beautiful rock formations. The temperature is usually fairly warm so you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere without freezing. You can even work up a bit of a sweat by hiking to each of the first three swimming holes and then cool down in their temperate water.
Clear Creek is often referred to as the heart of Golden. It is frequented by sunbathers, kayakers, tubers, and fisherman. Tubing the Clear Creek Waterpark is one of Jefferson County’s biggest summer activities. Just follow the sidewalk beside the river west and it will eventually turn into a trail. There are many opportunities along the way to drop your tube in. Bring your own tube or rent one from one of the shops right down the road.
Getting to these jaw-dropping hot springs off the beaten path requires an 8.5 miles hike and an overnight permit. But this trek is arguably one of the most unique overnight backpacking trips across the country. Conundrum Creek Trail is situated in Maroon Bells Wilderness area and climbs over 2,500 feet over the 8.5 miles, making it a moderate hike. At the end of the hike you will be rewarded with spectacular mountain scenery and a dip in the warm natural hot springs – clothing optional.
Being that it’s located only 20 minutes from the heart of Denver, Big Soda Lake is a hot spot for locals. It’s situated perfectly under the rolling hills of the front range with excellent views of Red Rocks Amphitheater. There are well maintained bathrooms and concessions nearby, along with several beach picnic shelters. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and sailboards.
Similar to its sister locale with the same name, this spot has been made popular as a sweet spot for plunging into cool water fed by a waterfall on the South Fork Crystal River. Unlike the Devil’s Punchbowl in Aspen – this location requires a difficult hike to get to, so adventurers should take caution. If you do decide to make the trek, be sure to stop by the Crystal Mill. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the state for a reason!
Just twenty miles north of Pagosa Spring is a pristine hiking trail that leads you to an oasis of natural hot springs. The 10.2 mile out and back trail winds through the Weminuche Wilderness Area within the San Juan National Forest. You’ll enjoy enchanting forests, waterfalls, steep cliffs overlooking rapids, and fresh mountain air. The hot springs are the icing on the cake, and provide a much-needed soak for your body after the strenuous climb up.
Adrenaline Falls is well known among Durango locals, but very few non-locals actually know where it is. Located in the San Juan National Forest, a short, but steep, hike takes you to the an 18-foot waterfall thundering into a deep pool. Adrenaline Falls has earned its name from the 18 – 40 foot cliff jump sure to give you a rush. For anyone looking for a thrill, this is the perfect summer time adventure.
Welcome to Denver’s oasis in the city! This is the perfect family escape from the day to day hustle and bustle of city life. Bring your floaties, cool off in the waves, and hang out on the soft, sandy beach. Or rent a boat and cast a line to do some leisurely fishing. Camping is also permitted in the area if you’re looking to lounge a bit longer.
For those adventure seekers looking to earn some bragging rights, add this hike-to-swim location to your summer bucket list. Your adventure begins one mile west of Independence Pass. From the trail head take 12,800’ Lost Man Pass on a well-established trail. While Lost Man Lake is your final destination, you could warm-up with a jump into Independence Lake. When you reach the top of the saddle you will be greeted with a glorious view of Lost Man Lake. On warm days, you’ll be able to enjoy a nice swim. But at 12,450’ it’s going to be brisk.
Compiled by Mara Calomino