Beat the Remaining Heat: Outdoor Swimming Options

The trees are blushing. The 8:50 a.m. walk to class could use a jacket. Colorado ski resorts are buzzing with photos showing dustings of snow. Winter is coming. 

But it’s not here yet — our days of sun and heat are becoming less sunny and less hot, though, so it’s time to take advantage of what we have left by jumping in some cool water. Despite being a landlocked state, Colorado offers many beautiful bodies of water for students to enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of Bella Staal

Under two hours drive away:

Paradise Cove: about an hour

This is ideal for a short day trip with a few friends. The swimming hole itself is pretty small and can get crowded easily, so it might be a good idea to head over if you have a free afternoon in the middle of the week to avoid the weekend hordes. There is cliff jumping, but dive at your own risk. 

Eleven Mile Canyon: 1 hr 11 min

Eleven Mile Canyon is a great swimming destination if you want a shorter drive and are interested in other activities such as fly fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. It also has other natural elements to appreciate, like the beautiful geology of the canyon. 

Lathrop State Park: 1 hr 30 min

The first state park in Colorado, Lathrop is home to two lakes, hiking trails, and a lot of other outdoor recreation opportunities. Lathrop is a good spot if you’re looking to swim but don’t necessarily care about being remote or isolated — the swimming beach has a lifeguard and there is a decent amount of boat traffic.

Over two hours drive away:

Twin Lakes: 2 hrs 30 min 

Twin Lakes are Colorado’s largest natural glacial lakes, and they’re at an elevation of over 9,000 feet, so be prepared to feel the cold. Campgrounds around the lake can be accessed yearlong via Leadville, and there are plenty of hiking trails in the area. 

Sandbeach Lake: 2 hrs 35 min

Getting to the lake requires an 8.6-mile hike with an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. Check it out if you’re looking for a cold and refreshing swim that you have to work for. 

Devil’s Punchbowl: 3 hrs

For some adrenaline mixed in with your swim, head over to the Devil’s Punchbowl near Aspen. The location can get quite crowded, but it’s one of the more exciting cliff jumping spots in Colorado. 

There’s only so much time left to take a dip in a crisp, cool lake — get out this block before fall fully sets in! 

Bella Staal

Bella Staal

Bella Staal

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