Local swimming holes
August 3, 2011
You can't beat the Old Town Hot Springs for swimming. It has diving boards, lap lanes, kiddie areas, four different soaking pools, massaging waterfalls and even a climbing wall that lets you bail out into the warm water below.
But there also are a few spots around town where you can channel your inner Huck Finn. Following are a few of our favorites:
N Come the lower riverflow months of July and August, riverside swimming doesn't get much better than in the Charlie's and D holes downtown by Bud Werner Memorial Library. Plunge into either for a refreshing dip and bag some rays on the rocks to warm back up. Just watch out for the tubers. Bonus: Bring swim goggles or a dive mask and you might just come face-to-face with a monster trout — or at least a tuber's lost pair of sunglasses.
N For more warm-blooded bathing, try the riverside hot springs just above the Rabbit Ears Motel in Dr. Rich Weiss Park. While not as warm as its parent pool across the pavement, it's a great reprieve from the cooler river, and its knee-high depth makes it perfect for the young-'uns.
N Want to make a day adventure out of your swimming foray? While not for the faint of heart, King Solomon Falls, located on the Middle Fork of the Little Snake River in northern Routt County, lets you play Acapulco with plunges from as high as you like. Just watch out for rocks and bring good-traction river shoes for the cobblestoned streambed hike in. Get a map and ask someone who's been there for directions.
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N For the lake inclined, there's no shortage of those, either. The most popular are Steamboat Lake north of town and Stagecoach Reservoir to the south, each with a sandy beach for lounging and drying. Hikers can also plunge into such lakes as Gilpin and Three-mile in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area as a reward for the hard-earned vista. Bonus: You didn't hear it from us, but there's also a great swimming hole below a waterfall halfway up to Gilpin.