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Activities / Colorado Livin'

Keep your cool with these plunges (and share your favorites)

As soaring temperatures continue to bake the United States, we can only thank our lucky stars that even though we’re at the center of the high desert, there are plenty of places to plunge in and take some of the sizzle off. There are the old standbys of Elitch Gardens and Hyland Hills Water World, but here are some other spots to splash that you may not have tried out.


No matter how high the mercury goes, or how near to drought conditions we seem to get, spray parks and pools stand at the ready to cool down all comers.

Eldorado Springs Resort, Eldorado Springs: Once considered the “Coney Island of the West,” the Eldorado Springs Resort still is a fine spot to relax and recreate. At the pool, you’ll paddle around in cool, clear water from the same artesian source that fills Eldorado Natural Spring Water bottles.

Pirate’s Cove, Englewood: Float in the lazy river, take a ride down one of three huge slides, or, if you’re really brave, just stand around in the leisure pool until the “dump bucket” feature unleashes a 750-gallon torrent from above.

Spray Park, at Loveland Sports Park east of Loveland: Cool off in the “OZmill,” a kinetic sculpture powered by wind and water, at the heart of the park. You’ll know it when you see it, because it looks like a tornado.

City Park Pool and Slides, Fort Collins: Two water slides are up – way up – and running at the City Park pool. Take a ride down the 30-foot drop slide, or the open curly slide. Then stand around in the spray shooting from the showerlike structures planted around the pool.

The Splash at Fossil Trace, Golden: Plenty of places to keep cool, including two water slides, a “dump bucket” and a set of slides and gentle spray fountains for little kids.


Huge winter snow filled up the reservoirs, giving Coloradans more chances to swim in open water than we’ve had in a long, long time. Check the regulations before you go. Not all of the reservoirs in state parks permit swimming.

Navajo State Park, southeast of Durango: Colorado’s answer to Lake Powell? You’ll have to judge the 15,000-acre lake that spans the border with New Mexico for yourself. Feel free to jump in anywhere, because swimming is not limited to a few beach areas.

Jackson Lake State Park, west of Fort Morgan: Sometimes dry by mid- summer, Jackson Reservoir is full to the brim with water temps in the high 60s to low 70s. Cool off from the sandy beaches on the south and west sides of the 2,700-acre lake.

Harvey Gap State Park, north of Silt: A smaller reservoir than some of the others in the state park system, this lake has cold water and sandy beaches.

John Martin Reservoir, east of Las Animas: Out on the sizzling southeastern plains, you can take a dip from the kid-friendly Lake Hasty swim beach at the eastern edge of John Martin Reservoir.

James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, near Grand Junction: A chain of five parks linked by the ribbon of river. Swim at beaches in two of them: Island Acres and Fruita.


After a raging spring runoff, creek flows on the Front Range have finally reached the level at which tubing is a reasonably safe prospect. You’ll need a life jacket, a helmet and a tube. Rent or buy all three.

Boulder Creek, in Boulder: You can put in just about anywhere in town, although the easiest spot is Eben G. Fine Park in the 200 block of Arapahoe Avenue.

South St. Vrain Creek, in Lyons: A milder ride than Boulder Creek. Put in near the bridge at Apple Valley on U.S. 36 west of town, float on down to Meadow Park and watch the kayakers play in the paddle park.

Poudre River, in Fort Collins: Jump in at the bridge on North Shields Street, about a half-mile north of West Vine Drive. Jump back out again about a mile and a half later, just before you get to North College Avenue.


Sometimes all you want is to float without getting soaking wet. Paddle boats let you cruise and dip a toe or hand in the water, if you want. Others let someone else do all the work.

Venice on the Creek, Denver: Who needs Italy, when you can take a punt ride down Cherry Creek in downtown Denver? Lantern-decorated gondola-style boats run from Larimer Street to Confluence Park and back, weekends.

Waneka Lake, Lafayette: A new set of boats decorated with characters, including a dragon, debuted a couple of years ago.

Washington Park, Denver: Rent a pedal boat built for two or four, or, if you’re afraid to go into the water, try a surrey that lets you pedal yourself and the tots around the edge of the lake instead.

-Dana Coffield

Where are your favorite places to take the plunge to stay cool?

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. Today, we’re heading up the canyon to Lair ‘o the Bear to have a picnic and wade in the creek. They have a great little beach area that we love.

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