This summer in Colorado has been extreme to say the least. Not only are we having record temperatures but the heat coupled with the intensely dry conditions have led to the most destructive forest fire in the history of Colorado. Let’s face it. We have had better summers. It has been too hot to do anything outside unless you are near a body of water. But don’t fret, fires and one hundred degree temperatures aside, there are still many ways for BridgeEnglish students (and teachers!) to stay cool in Denver. Although Colorado lacks an ocean (the one thing that would make it the perfect state), it does have a multitude of lakes and rivers where the hot and tired can go for a refreshing dip. We all hope the heat won’t last until the end of the summer, but while we wait it out, here are some options.
Cherry Creek Lake–One mile south of I-225 on Parker Road at Lehigh, adjacent to south Denver
Although it is technically a reservoir, it is still a huge body of water situated on an 880- acre natural reserve on the border of south Denver and Aurora. There are many swim beaches scattered around the entire lake, so if you want to be where the “scene” is, choose one of the more popular beaches located both on the east and west sides of the lake. There you can find sandy beaches, restrooms, concessions and lots of people. But in between these beaches it is possible to find your own private cove surrounded by trees and nature where you can take a swim and then relax under the shade of the foliage. If being on a boat is more your speed then head on over to the marina where they offer a variety of rental boats including pontoon boats, fishing boats, mono-hull dinghy sailboats, Sunfish, paddle boats, kayaks and canoes. If you really want to work up a sweat before diving into the lake, the natural reserve has many hiking and biking trails that wind through the park. Whatever your speed, you can be sure to cool off on a hot day at Cherry Creek Lake.
Bear Creek Lake–Located at Morrison Road and C-470 in Morrison
There are many lakes scattered throughout the Denver metro area but Bear Creek Lake is probably my favorite. Situated at the base of the foothills, this lake and surrounding wildlife reserve boasts spectacular views of the mountains which are just minutes away. Once in the 2600 acre park you can enjoy a multitude of activities such as miles of multiple-use trails to explore on foot, bicycle, or horseback, a visitor center featuring displays and naturalist programs, a swim beach and marina with boat rentals and for the really adventurous, there is a separate water ski lake adjacent to the main lake where you can take water ski lessons. I like Bear Creek Lake because it is a bit smaller and the scenery is to die for. Also, it is a stone’s throw away from the tiny hamlet of Morrison where you can go for lunch along the actual Bear Creek or go explore some of the mom and pop shops. I like to bring a blow-up float to the lake and just relax in the water with the Rocky Mountains in the background and a cold beverage in my hand.
Lair o’ the Bear Park–approximately four miles west of Morrison along Colorado Highway 74
Lair o’ the Bear Park is an open space located four miles up Bear Creek Canyon Road/Highway 74 on the way to Evergreen. The reason I like this park is because of the Bear Creek itself which runs through the park and has a few awesome swimming holes where you can definitely refresh yourself in the brisk mountain water. Once you park in the gravel lot, follow the trail toward the river and there you will find a few redwood decks overlooking the river. This is a great place to spread out a towel and relax to the sounds of the rushing water. When you get hot enough, which won’t be hard this summer, you can plunge right into the river beneath the decks. The water temperature is quite cold but it is worth the initial shock. Once in the water enjoy a swim against the current or find some deeper spots to wade in. Be sure to wear some water sandals because the bottom of the river is lined with stones which can be harmful to your bare feet. If it is not too hot then explore the hiking and mountain biking trail which winds through a maze of evergreen trees. I like to mountain bike the trail and then at the end of the trail cool myself off in the swimming hole located beside the trailhead. There is nothing like being in natural water in the middle of the mountains on a hot, dry day.
Water World–88th & Pecos, Denver
If lounging by a river or lake is a little too slow of a pace for you, then you should definitely go to Water World. Water World is the biggest water park in America with the largest variety of attractions, 49 in total. Travel through prehistoric times on the Voyage to the Center of the Earth ride which winds through dark tunnels filled with roaring dinosaurs or speed down the dark slides of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle ride. Thrill rides are in abundance also, like the Red Line speed slide or the Space Bowls which give you the experience of sliding down a huge water drain. Two new attractions will debut this summer including Colorado’s only magnetic water coaster, The Mile High Flyer which looks amazing! If you like roller coasters then don’t miss this new ride. Water World also has a variety of restaurants and picnic areas to relax in after you get your fill of adrenaline.