Get in, the water’s fine.
Outside of Denver, there are a multitude of beautiful lakes, reservoirs, and ponds situated in the middle of some of our most beautiful state parks. Since it’s summer, we thought you might be in the mood to take a dip at a local watering hole, lake, or swimming pond, so we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites for you and your friends and family to relax and soak up at that summer sun.
Right outside of Fort Collins is the cute and lovely Cache la Poudre River Canyon, a hidden treasure here in Colorado. From kayaking to white-water rafting (class I-V rapids) to taking a gentle glide down the river on an inner tube, there’s a little something for every level. Fun fact, The Poudre (pronounced pooh-der) is Colorado’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” River. For more information on la Poudre and the surrounding area of Fort Collins, as well as the numerous activities you can partake in, you can call the toll free number at 1-800-274-3678.
2. Grand Lake
Whether you’re interested in hiking, camping, or swimming, Grand Lake will be your one-stop place for lakeside fun. You can bring your own kayak, canoe, jet ski, or boat or rent one lakeside for a whole afternoon of savoring that amazing summer sun. And don’t forget that this lake nestled in the Rocky Mountain National Park has also got some amazing dining and shopping options as well. Finally, we’d also recommend the theater performances they’re putting on in the summer evenings. Coming up at the end of June will be a performance of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Where: 14700 US-34 Grand Lake, CO 80447
Big Soda Lake is your family friend fun-in-the-sun reservoir. Only a 20 minute drive from the heart of Denver city makes this the closest destination for outdoor summer fun. While it was closed during 2020 because of obvious reasons, they’ve reopened just in time for that hot, dry weather Colorado’s known for. This summer has got a great line up for you to enjoy, like the ‘Paddle the Rockies Stand-up Paddle Boarding Competition,’ which sounds like a roaring good time. Bear Creek Lake also has hiking trails and camping activities to enjoy as well once you’re a little waterlogged and in the mood for dry land.
Where: 15600 W. Morrison Road, Lakewood, CO 80228
Denver’s very own watery playground, Cherry Creek State Park is the perfect spot for a summer dip, weekend lake adventure, or sporty day. Anchored around a 880 surface acre reservoir, the park offers a natural prairie environment of gentle, rolling hills and complete outdoor recreation facilities, including camping, picnicking and facilities for group events. The lake has just reopened, so now is the perfect time to gather the family, pack a lunch, and head on over to one of the closest spots for cool, summer fun.
Where: 4201 South Parker Rd; Aurora; 303.690.1166
5. Paradise Cove
2 hours from Denver and near the city of Florissant is one of Colorado’s most enchanting natural swimming holes. During the prime months of Mid-May to Mid-September, vehicles will have to pay a $6 parking fee, but we think it’s worth it for this unbelievable pool and cliff diving spot. Did we mention there’s also a waterfall?
Where: 13999 Main St, Guffey, CO 80820
6. Devil’s Punchbowl
3 hours from Denver is Devil’s Punchbowl, the perfect summer oasis during the peak seasons of April through September. The trail leading up to the swimming spot is 3.5 kilometers round trip, a back trail near Carbondale, Colorado in White River National Forest. You’ll likely run into hikers, cyclists, swimmers, and cliff divers during your journey, so have fun.
Where: Co Rd 317, Carbondale, CO 81623
7. Rainbow Hot Springs
Rainbow Hot Springs is located 5 hours outside of Denver in the San Juan National Forest. This moderate hike is the perfect weekend getaway, located near Pagosa Springs. The hike is 16.1 kilometers round trip with plenty to see before reaching the falls or the hot springs. The trail also features a river that runs alongside it, making for a hot hike made easier with the water.
Where: Rainbow Hot Springs, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
8. Adrenaline Falls
These swimming holes keep getting further and further, with Adrenaline Falls being a 6 and a half hour drive outside of Denver. This is more of a weekend trip sort of place, but luckily its beauty makes up for it. Spend the night in the neighboring city of Durango, then hike the short (but steep) trail to the natural pool and waterfall.
3 hours from Denver, near Steamboat Springs, is Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a small little resort perfect for cooling off on those hot summer days. This year, reservations are mandatory so we recommend you make a reservation in advance. When you’re done in the springs, relax at the cabins and let your troubles melt away.
Where: Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs, 44200 Co Rd 36, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
10. Conundrum Hot Springs
5 hours away from Denver is this lovely natural geothermal spring located in a remote area that you can visit in the warmer and cooler months. These springs are located near Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area of the White River National Forest in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but you have to endure a challenging hike to get there and you’ll need a permit. If you’re up for the challenge, we think it’s more than worth it.
Where: Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado 81611