Denver, it is hot. So hot, in fact, that there's really nothing to do but find a body of cold water and take a plunge. Luckily, municipal and neighborhood pools abound in the Mile High, and sometimes a lap pool is really all you need. Here we've rounded up the pools, water parks, rivers and lakes worth seeking out. These swimming holes offer thrills, nature, art or something else that you won't find elsewhere. Without further ado, here are metro Denver's ten best spots to take the plunge:
Tubing on Boulder Creek
If you prefer communing with nature while splashing around, head up to Boulder Creek, where you can float down the current from Eben G. Fine Park to 55th Street on the east side of Boulder. (Don't go higher than the park, experts warn, or you'll hit rocky sections and serious rapids.) Bring your own tube, or rent from a local outfitter like Whitewater Tubing & Recreation on Spruce Street, which also offers shuttle service. Outfit kids with lifejackets and helmets, and only ride the rapids with them when the flow is low. Special bonus: Today is Tube to Work Day in Boulder!
Brighton Oasis Family Aquatic Park
1852 East Bromley Lane, Brighton
Brighton Oasis offers a chance to take advantage of some water park fun at a fraction of the price. Non-Brighton residents pay just $7 for admission and residents get in for a paltry $4.75. Scale the climbing wall and plunge right back into the pool, tackle the pair of twisting slides, soak yourself under a giant dump bucket and then float your way around the many bends of the lazy river. The Oasis added a drop slide for this season; as ever, you can snack from the concessions stand and reserve pavilions for parties. Only catch? No booze.
Chatfield Reservoir at Chatfield State Park
11500 Roxborough Park Road, Littleton
If you're yearning to break free of swimming pools and head to a beach, Chatfield Lake is right up your alley. This reservoir has a sandy swimming beach open all summer long, plus allows several water sports, including boating, jet-skiing and paddleboarding. Bring a net for the volleyball courts and a picnic. You'll also find several campsites in the park, all within walking distance to the lake. There's also a restaurant in the park, located on the marina.
Eldorado Swimming Pool
294 Artesian Drive
This stunner of a swimming pool — nestled into Eldorado Canyon and fed by the same spring that supplies Eldorado with bottled water — has provided a swimming sanctuary since 1905. You're coming here especially for the views; the canyon walls jut up sharply outside of the Western-themed resort. But kids will like the diving board and the old metal slide. Note that this pool is colder than most: Water comes in from the spring at 76 degrees Fahrenheit, and is heated to 80.
Read on for more of the best places to swim in Colorado.
Globeville Pool at Argo Park
4700 Logan Street
The building that sits at the entrance of the Globeville Pool, covered with elaborate murals, is itself reason to venture to this corner of Denver. The art comes from Keith White and his team "Your Name in Graffiti," and centers around Aztec symbolism outside and ocean scenes inside. Once inside, you'll find a sizable (and often packed) public pool, equipped with a handful of splash areas and a twisting slide.
La Alma Recreation Center
1325 West 11th Avenue
An exemplary public pool after its renovation a few years back, Lincoln Park's La Alma Recreation Center caters both to grownups who'd like to swim a few laps, and kids (and adults) who'd rather spend their time splashing around. In addition to a lap pool, the facility boasts a splash area, a whirlpool and a slide — and, new this year, a leisure pool for open swim. Grab an open umbrella on the lawns and bring in a picnic. Admission is just $3.50 for adults.
Pirates Cove Family Fun Aquatic Center
1225 West Belleview Avenue, Littleton
This pirate-themed hub of Englewood family fun has options for soaking, no matter your age or pool style. Tots can head for the sandy beach, the splash garden and the leisure pool, where a play structure and soaking bucket anchor the fun. Older kids and adventurous adults will like the 35-foot slide tower, the lazy river, and the diving board and drop slide, which plunge into a six-lane pool. Concessions are available on site, but alcohol is not, nor is it allowed.
Splash at Fossil Trace
3151 Illinois Street, Golden
This Jefferson County water park has something for everyone: lap lanes for adults who want exercise, an open swimming area, a pair of large water slides (one of which sends park-goers down on inner tubes), a small toddler pool, and a pool play area with a big jungle gym, a giant bucket and fountains. Grab a chair or a grassy space for lounging, and spring for something from the park's grill, which opens at 11 a.m. Lap-swimmers tend to hit Splash when it opens, at 10 a.m.
5565 North 51st Street, Boulder
The beautiful and busy Boulder Reservoir swim beach offers two roped-off shallow areas for children to splash in and a larger deep section; children under twelve have to pass a lifeguard test to cross into this deeper area. Out in the water, there are several platforms where lifeguards stand and people can sunbathe. The reservoir sets up a 750-meter course on Wednesday mornings throughout the summer, where athletes practice open-water swimming skills. In the winter, the brave and foolhardy participate in the annual Polar Plunge, racing into the frigid water.
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8801 North Pecos Street, Federal Heights
The undisputed king of water parks in Denver (and one of the country's largest theme parks), Water World is a 67-acre playground with attractions for all ages, from heart-stopping slides to twisting tube rides to a lazy river and wave pools to a kiddie splash zone. You'll find tube and locker rentals on site; bring in a cooler (but leave the booze and glass at home) and nab a patch of grass, or spring for a bungalow or cabana reservation. Consider an all-you-can-eat pass to the Pharaoh's Feast restaurant, which lets you graze all day for $15.99. Drinkers should belly up to the Watering Hole for beer and frozen cocktails. As a bonus, every Friday in July, the park will host live music from 4 to 8 p.m. Be aware that flotation devices, including water wings, are not allowed, though you can rent life vests in the park. And it should go without saying, if you're a lap swimmer, this is not for you.
Looking for more to do this summer? Check out the Westword calendar.