It may be a cooler and rainier summer than ever in Colorado, but that doesn't mean it's not prime time to douse yourself in a body of water for fun and refreshment purposes.
It may be a cooler and rainier summer than ever in Colorado, but that doesn't mean it's not prime time to douse yourself in a body of water for fun and refreshment purposes. And for a state whose primary personality has been "drought-stricken" for most of recorded history, we sure do have a lot of fun water to splash around in.
And … segue! That's why we made you this guide to Colorado's best aquatic entertainment. We've got everything from lakes, to tubing/floating, to cliff jumping to hot springs, and we've organized all of them based on your potential level of motivation (hungover, feelin' squirrely, or like you just got an adrenaline shot through the heart).
So enjoy the wetness, watch out for leeches, and get ready to cool yourself down in this mild-ass climate of ours.
Hungover – Boulder Reservoir
Keeping it simple is our motto here at Rooster – along with always have a safeword and never take the last drink of the night. The Boulder Res offers the perfect water oasis for an afternoon on the “beach.” Any day to go is fine, but whatever you do, avoid the fourth of July.
Feelin’ Squirrely – Gross Reservoir
Don’t let the name fool you: this placid reservoir is a beautiful retreat surrounded by towering green mountains and hidden coves. Test out your new fishing rod, set up camp or simply sit back, drink beer and watch the flowers grow. Whether it’s a day or weekend trip, we say go get ‘em, tiger.
Badasses Only – Grand Lake
Grand Lake, CO
Pack up the camper and head for the hills of Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake — you better wear your big kid floaties. Unlike our other wet and wild suggestions, Grand Lake hosts a small town along with any and every conceivable outdoor activity you can think of not discounting possible Great White Shark diving. Grab the gang, call in sick and don’t plan on being back to reality for approximately 72 hours.
Hungover – Boulder Creek
When we say hungover, we mean hungover with a helmet and a sturdy cooler. Torrential downpours have turned the Creek into an American Ninja Warrior course that requires a 6.9 PSR. Surely, once global warming brings back the drought, conditions will be perfect for a little R and R on the Creek.
Feelin’ Squirrely – Poudre River through Fort Collins
Fort Collins, CO
Strap on your Tevas for a quick float down the Poudre River that runs through Fort Collins. Unlike the river in the valley, you shouldn’t have to worry about Class V rapids and loss of life. Start at Shields and float to Legacy Park. Afterward, grab beers at one of the many breweries around town.
Badasses Only – Clear Creek whitewater
Should you manage to ignore the Coors Brewery Tour and opt for the more productive outlook on life, the Clear Creek River runs right through the quaint town of Golden and offers cold, fresh rapids to surely have you second-guessing your religious beliefs. Clear Creek whitewater runs at a brisk pace, so if you’re going to run with the big dogs, you better take off the leash.
Hungover – Paradise Cove near Cripple Creek
Canon City, CO
Bask in the glory of greatness as you free fall seamlessly from the cliffs of the majestic enclave tucked away from Cripple Creek. The cove is surrounded by steep granite cliffs that provide diving platforms for the courageous. Three levels of heights give you an opportunity to impress your loved ones without shitting your pants mid air.
Feelin’ Squirrely – Devil’s Punchbowl
If you were sane, the last thing you’d ever want to do is jump into the Devil’s punchbowl. But you’re not sane and you’re jacked up on Four Loko’s and Slim Jims. Just outside of Aspen, on the Roaring Fork River are a series of waterfalls that drop into a large emerald pool with protruding cliffs offering up steep gradients. Start small young grasshopper: what would Chili’s do without their best server?
Badasses Only – St. Mary’s Glacier
Idaho Springs, CO
Nothing about this cliff jumping site says “mother’s womb.” The water is glacier-cold, the cliffs are steep and your spa technician told you to wait three days before performing anything extraneous. Nevertheless, hike one mile in and you’ll realize why you’re never leaving Colorado again. We advise bringing a picnic set up and a couple rounds of drinks — which double as liquid courage.
Hungover – Cottonwood Hot Springs outside Buena Vista
Buena Vista, CO
Life is hard and you deserve to be pampered like royalty. Look no further than the turquoise pools of the natural hot springs resting within the Collegiate Mountain Range. You don’t need to hike, bike or traverse cliffs to access the springs. There are public pools for the social and private pools for the sensual as well as affordable lodging and camping that should help you forget that moving to Colorado simply because of legalized marijuana wasn’t the best decision in hindsight.
Feelin’ Squirrely – Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Steamboat Springs, CO
Again, you’re young a vibrant, a true specimen of human greatness. Therefore, you need to bathe in the finest mineral springs known to man. That’s why Strawberry Park Hot Springs should be your next destination. Nestled alongside Hot Springs Creek lies one of the most spectacular mineral springs in the world. It’s affordable, accessible and by golly, you deserve it, you magnificent beast.
Badasses Only – Conundrum Hot Springs
This undeveloped hot spring offers a popular destination for the rugged and adventurous. Why you ask? Because the hot spring requires an eight and a half mile hike to get to it, meaning you’re going to have to put down bag of potato chips, take off the Birkenstocks and start hiking. The beautiful part, once you get there, is plenty of campsites offer breathtaking views and access to the springs. So are you a badass, bro?