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Jonathan Stull | 08.30.2016

The summer is off to a hot start, and there are still plenty of warm days to spend alongside a creek or a lake, dipping your toes in the cool waters and soaking up the last rays of sun before we welcome the snowy winter days in the mountains. Here are some of our favorites.

Sections of the North Fork South Platte River are ideal for swimming, in particular at the confluence of the North and South forks at the boulders near the remains of the South Platte Hotel.

Perhaps one of the best and best known, the Paradise Cove in Guffey Gorge is a bit of a trek, being greater than two hours’ drive from Denver. Still, there’s a good reason why it gets so busy on summer weekends: a 35-foot plunge, shade when you want it, and the peaceful scenery of a canyon’s grassy meadow.

On your way to Eldorado Canyon State Park? Stop off at Eldorado Springs, an artesian-fed swimming pool at the mouth of the canyon. Although well developed, Eldorado offers resort amenities in a historic, rustic atmosphere.

Don’t miss Boulder Creek, its 32 miles of waterways optimal for tubing and swimming, especially at Eben G Fine State Park—but be forewarned: fed from snowmelt, the water temperatures can be chilly!

In downtown Denver, Confluence Park is a must-visit park that evolved out of a gold-rush encampment to become the city of Denver itself. The small park sees heavy visitation, however, so be ready for a different kind of rush.

Reservoirs

Being a landlocked state, Colorado is at a lack for true beaches. There are several reservoirs in the Denver area, however, each with a beach to make your own.

  • Fifteen minutes north of Boulder, the Boulder Reservoir boasts 700 acres of open water at your disposal. It’s a good option for water sports, as well, so bring along your kayaks and floats, too. The only drawback is a modest day use fee, less than $10.
  • Just southeast of Denver, Aurora Reservoir is another option, roughly comparable to Boulder Reservoir in size at 800 acres. That said, Boulder doesn’t have a Cessna 310, deliberately sunk in 1994 as a diving attraction.
  • Chatfield Reservoir is south of Denver and surrounded by Chatfield State Park—meaning it has options for camping and horseback riding in addition to its beaches. Keep an eye out for avian visitors as well, as Chatfield is a busy layover for migrating birds.

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