Colorado may be land-locked, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you want a cool way to beat the summer heat. Though there’s no ocean in these hills, the Denver metro area is stocked with spots for summertime swimming, from lakes and reservoirs to creeks and pools. If you’re on the hunt for a place to cool off, dive into one of Denver’s top swimming holes.
Set within Chatfield State Park in the city of Littleton, the Chatfield Reservoir is decked out with roped-off swimming areas, sand, and picnic spots. Because it’s close to Denver, this beach can get packed on hot summer days, but it’s big enough that it’s a good place to come if you’re traveling in a pack. The beach also has lots of restrooms, and you can grab a grill on a first-come first-serve basis. Let Fido roam off-leash in the nearby dog area, or snag a snack at one of the onsite concessions. Expect to pay a daily state park fee to get in.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, cool off from the sizzling summer sun at Aurora Reservoir’s swimming beach. The beach might be pint-sized, but it’s a favorite with locals who want to beat the heat. Lifeguards are on staff through July, and you can rent shelters for bashes like family reunions or birthday parties. Pump up the fun and rent a kayak or paddleboard while you’re there. When you need a high-energy break from the beach, bike the 8.5-mile trail that loops around the reservoir. At least you have a place to cool off once your ride is done!
Northwest of Denver near Rocky Mountain National Park sits Grand Lake – the state’s biggest and deepest natural lake. Measuring a mile long and wide, this lake has plenty of room for boating, plus public boat ramps and a public dock. Fed with water that runs off from the Rockies, the lake serves up a chilly swim, but that might be just the nippy dip you need on a hot summer day.
Bear Creek Lake Park
Need a quick aqua fix? Bear Creek Lake Park and its onsite beach, Big Soda Lake, just 30 minutes from downtown Denver. Locals love the clean, crisp water and surrounding beach. There are no lifeguards on duty, but a food stand and picnic area are available. Make a day of it, and hit the playground and volleyball courts. Then rent a kayak or paddleboard from the marina.
Cherry Creek State Park
Aurora’s Cherry Creek State Park has a roped-off swimming area and sandy beach make a great place for families to beat the heat. This 880-acre reservoir boasts awesome views of the Rockies and its flat-as-a-pancake landscape mean you’ve got a photo-friendly setting, too. You’ll find a playground for the kids, picnic tables, and a stand for snacks, but no lifeguards. There‘s a fee to enter the state park.
If you want to skip the managed beaches for something a little more bare-bones, head north from Denver to hit the waters of Boulder Creek. The area is loaded with places to swim, but spots near the Eben G. Fine Park and close to the Boulder County Farmers Market reel folks in. Just mosey along the Boulder Creek path until you find the perfect place to make a splash. If you’re swimming with kids, you’ll find calm pools along the creek path north of the Boulder Public Library.
Jackson Lake State Park
The big reservoir at Jackson Lake State Park in Orchard snagged a spot as one of the “Top 15 Park Beaches” from Reserve America. About 75 miles from downtown Denver, Jackson Lake also draws fishers, boaters, water-skiers, and campers looking for a break from the city. The massive, sandy beach can’t be beat for sunning or playing, and there are picnic tables for easy eatin’. Because the water is pretty shallow, it warms up fast, which can mean a more comfy swim than you might find at other spots around these parts.
Eldorado Springs Swimming Pool
This ain’t just any old swimmin’ hole. Since 1905, the Eldorado Springs swimming pool has been a great go-to for a dandy dip. This pool is fed by a spring that gushes in at 76 degrees Fahrenheit and is heated to a temperature of 80 degrees. The spring water is such a deep blue hue that plenty of folks reckon it’s not a natural color — but it is. The pool area is set up with a tall slide and a diving board and has loads of benches and a grassy picnic area, all with a backdrop of Eldorado Canyon State Park.
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