Adventure Travel

Colorado swimming holes you can’t help but take a dip in

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Colorado swimming holes you can’t help but take a dip in

When summertime rolls around and the heat picks up, there’s only one solution: swimming holes. Some are ice cold and refreshing, while others are spring-fed and rejuvenating. With the abundance of rivers, creeks, lakes, and springs across the state, Colorado is chock-full of amazing places to soak all summer long.

Here are a few of our favorite local spots to jump, swim, and explore throughout the Centennial State. Remember to “leave no trace” in these natural wonders. Let’s keep it clean for generations to enjoy! Below are the top Colorado swimming holes to visit this summer.

Baker’s Bridge, Durango

A classic destination for the Durango crowd, Baker’s Bridge is the perfect spot to cool off after a long day hiking in the San Juan Mountains. Found on County Road 250 (just past the intersection with Highway 550), the bridge is a favorite jumping point into the Animas River below. Something of a right of passage for local youths, a jump into the river is a true staple in the Durango community. But if you’re not the adrenaline-seeking kind, it’s possible to hike down into the water for a more low-key swim. You can also spend hours sunbathing on the flat rocks just below the bridge. Movie buffs will recognize the area as the famous jump scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Devil’s Punch Bowl, Aspen

Devil’s Punch Bowl is a thrill-seeker’s dream. Just outside of Aspen near Independence Pass, this cliff jumping destination is nothing short of epic. Also known as the Devil’s Playground Swimming Hole, it’s obvious how adrenaline-pumping the spot is. As always, it’s advisable to be cautious of the Roaring Fork River current, which is often unpredictable during the spring (due to mountain snow runoff). It’s possible to find calmer jumping and swimming spots if you walk a bit further upstream from the Punch Bowl. To reach the Devil’s Punch Bowl, simply drive east on 82 from Aspen. Be forewarned that the drive is full of twists and turns, but with beautiful sprawling views around every curve.

Cascades, Durango

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

Everyone in Durango has their own story about jumping Cascades. As a part of the iconic “ABC” jumping sites of the region (Adrenaline, Baker’s Bridge, and Cascades), Cascades is the middle ground between the more mild Baker’s Bridge and extreme Adrenaline. Some might disagree with that rating system, as Cascades is actually a series of smaller jumps into narrow plunge pools below. Located within a deep canyon cut by Cascade Creek, the thrilling adventure is gloriously beautiful, yet uncommonly photographed. In fact, it’s recommended to leave your phone in the car—there’s absolutely no way to keep it dry while completing the series of jumps.

Dominguez Canyon, Grand Junction

Image: Meetup

Image: Meetup

The desert climate of far western Colorado makes Dominguez Canyon a sweet relief during hot summer days. The best part about exploring this swimming hole is the opportunity to create a one-day or multi-day trip out of the experience. Heck, you can stay for as many days as you want! The out-and-back nature of Dominguez Canyon makes for an easily customizable break from reality. A popular day trip ventures through the first few miles of the trail, which passes through local favorites called “The Potholes.” The most famous swimming hole is called “Jumping Hole.” You can guess what people get up to there! Luckily, for the less adventurous, plenty of smooth, shallow sandstone pools line the route as well. Find Dominguez Canyon by traveling southeast on Highway 50 from Grand Junction. Turn right on Bridgeport Road, where you’ll eventually see the parking area for the Dominguez Canyon trailhead.

Piedra River Hot Springs, Pagosa Springs

Far from the commercial operation in downtown Pagosa Springs, this au-naturale beauty is a great hike-to hot spring on the Piedra River. Due to the lengthy amount of time it takes to reach the springs, many visitors choose to camp overnight to experience the relaxation for as long as possible. It’s a 50/50 shot whether or not you’ll see other people out on the trail, but be forewarned: the locals aren’t shy. It’s common to find a person or two basking completely in the nude. To reach the springs, ask the local forest service for specific directions off of Highway 160. Mention you’re looking for the Sheep Creek Trailhead.

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r

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