Aspen has a lot to offer year-round in terms of outdoor adventure. The alpine scenery is particularly special as it is also host to a vast array of crystal clear waters in natural surroundings, perfect for visiting or taking a dip. If you are looking for an adventure to one of these gorgeous watery spots, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite swimming holes, lakes, and waterfalls.
Here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy the crystal blue alpine waters of the Aspen area.
Distance from Aspen: 2.0 miles
Located southeast of Aspen between Highway 82 and the eastern portion of Aspen Mountain, the North Star Preserve encompasses a stretch of the Roaring Fork River, beautiful wetlands, and a wildlife habitat.
This scenic area of the Roaring Fork River is a favorite of stand-up paddleboarders (SUPs). Canoes and kayaks are other preferred vessels for floating through the Preserve, and tubing is another fun option. This area of the river is mellow and suitable for families and beginners, though it should be noted that the water is very cold!
Distance from Aspen: 8.9 miles
The Devil's Punchbowl, a popular cliff jumping spot, is a section of large rocks where water pools along the Roaring Fork River near Independence Pass. This area is a popular spot for cliff jumping, though the Forestry Service or law enforcement does not condone it. The drop is around 25 ft. Smaller jumps are available for those not ready to make big jumps.
Cliff jumping is risky, and those who choose to jump should do so with caution. Ensure the landing is clear of swimmers, do not belly flop or dive, and enter feet first and tighten your body.
If you choose to go cliff diving, also make certain not to jump immediately after rainfall. Currents are strong now, and even the most experienced swimmers can be easily swept away! Also note that the water is particularly cold, even in the summer, so be prepared.
While the water depth averages 12 ft, the amount of rain and snowfall affects its depth. If it has been a dry year, the water will be more shallow, which can also be especially dangerous for cliff jumping. If you exercise caution by checking all of these factors, from weather conditions to crowds, it's always best to be prepared for an emergency. Never jump alone, and have a crew of people nearby in the event something happens. While it can be fun, jump at your own risk!
Distance from Aspen to Conundrum Trailhead: 7.4 miles
Conundrum Hot Springs is an 8.5 mile hike from the Conundrum Creek Trailhead, which is about a 10-minute drive from Aspen. Surrounded by 14,000-ft peaks, the area offers stunning views of Mt. Hayden, which looms at the start of the hike, followed by views of Cathedral Peak, Conundrum Peak, and Castle Peak
The springs offer views of mountains, avalanche chutes, and waterfalls, and they are among the highest in altitude in the nation. The hot spring complex contains two main pools and four smaller springs, so it's easy to find something to accommodate any size of group.
Conundrum draws thousands every summer, many of whom camp in the vicinity. If you plan to make your visit an overnight stay, please note that permits are required, so plan ahead.
Distance from Aspen: 37.4 miles
Boat, wake surf, waterski, stand-up paddleboard, and camp at this beautiful haven in the high country. The reservoir is an easy getaway for water enthusiasts, offering water skiing, boating, or just lounging on the shoreline. The drive up the valley reveals the deep blue waters that stretch for miles. This postcard-perfect scene hosts heavily wooded slopes on all sides and gorgeous high peaks as its backdrop.
Distance from Aspen: 36 miles
One of Colorado's most scenic locations, these pristine alpine lakes are Colorado's largest, surrounded by mountains over 13,000 feet high. This setting offers a spectacular backdrop for a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and even sailboarding. Boat docks offer easy access to both lakes for an epic adventure.
Distance from Aspen: 50.6 mileslakes and waterfalls in the
Hanging Lake's pristine, turquoise waters and sparkling waterfalls are well worth the steep trek to reach it. The popularity of this spot mostly rests on its awe-inspiring beauty, as swimming and entering the water is not allowed. Suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon's cliffs, the clear turquoise lake and the waterfall spilling into it are truly breathtaking.
Due to the popularity of this beautiful spot, hiking is available by reservation only, so make certain to plan ahead and secure your spot for this incredible hike.
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