Though Colorado is landlocked, there are 158 named rivers providing ample access to gold medal fishing, rafting, floating, kayak parks, and cliff jumping. For the sake of this list, we're going to focus on rivers with ideal pools for swimming and, for those who are more adventurous, with cliffs to jump into those pools.
Swimming holes can mean lots of people, and all too frequently that leads excessive trampling of plants, large amounts of garbage, cans and glass bottles, human waste, and toilet paper left behind. If you want to continue enjoying these areas, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, use vault toilets and other restroom facilities when provided, and stay on established paths. Using these areas responsibly will increase the chance that people can continue to enjoy them - be courteous, stay aware, and respect these incredible places!
We'll admit, there are many incredible spots that we've probably missed, something we hope to remedy over time. But all-in-all, if you get the chance to hit up just a few of these spots this summer, we know you won't be disappointed.
Devil's Punchbowl: About 15 minutes east of Aspen, 20-foot cliffs.
Paradise Cove (Guffey's Cove): An hour west from Colorado Springs, 35-foot cliffs.
Strawberry Hot Springs: 15 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, hot spring pools alongside a cold river pool, entrance fee.
North Fork of the South Platte River: About an hour southwest of Denver, numerous river access points for swimming or floating, restrooms along the river.
Boulder Creek at Eben G. Fine Park: Located in Boulder, swimming and floating access.
Confluence Park: Located in downtown Denver, man-made chutes for kayakers and floaters, beaches for lounging.
Arkansas River: Located in Buena Vista, whitewater park.
We don't have these adventures listed on Outdoor Project just yet, but they shouldn't be left off the list for summer floating fun!
Clear Creek Whitewater Park: Located in Golden, .25 mile course for kayakers and floaters.
Cache la Poudre River: Located in Fort Collins, floating.
San Juan River: Located in Pagosa Springs, hot springs resort alongside the San Juan River, floating.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.