10 places to cool off within 100 miles of Denver

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DENVER — The warmth of summer is here and people will be looking for the best places to cool off around the Denver metro area.

For the sake of consistency, in this list, distance will be measured from the Colorado State Capitol at 200 E. Colfax Ave.

Aurora Reservoir

There’s plenty to do for everyone at Aurora Reservoir. In addition to a great swim beach and swimming area, there is an archery range and a scuba dive area.

Bikes, kayaks and paddleboards can also be rented.

It costs $10 per vehicle for a day pass or annual passes are available for $55 to $65.

Distance from downtown Denver: 28.9 miles

Elitch Gardens Water Park

Elitch Gardens’ Island Kingdom Water Park is free with theme park admission, and offers family and thrill rides in the heart of the Mile High City.

Distance from downtown Denver: Two miles

Elvis Cinemas

How about seeing a movie on a hot day? And it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Elvis Cinemas in Arvada, Denver and Littleton offer movies at a great value. It costs just $3 for showings before 6 p.m. and after 6 p.m. the price goes up to just $4.

Distance from downtown Denver: 8.6 miles (Arvada), 16.7 miles (Littleton), 11.4 miles (Denver)

Great Wolf Lodge

Want the joys of a water park but in an indoor environment? Colorado’s only hotel featuring an indoor water park is just one hour south in Colorado Springs at the Great Wolf Lodge.

The catch is the water park is only open to hotel guests so you will have to book a room to get in the park. The resort also offers other family activities and dining options.

Distance from downtown Denver: 61.3 miles

Mount Evans

Connect with nature and cool off with a drive to the top of one of Colorado’s famous 14ers on the highest paved road in North America.

You’ll find that being at the top of a 14er has its perks in the summer heat as the temperature is around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than in the city.

Distance from downtown Denver: 60.4 miles


The Denver metro area is full of interesting museums that have reasonable admission prices and are air-conditioned to beat the heat.

Here are some of the top recommendations:

Pikes Peak

Looking get farther away from the city but still get to the top of a 14er? Head south to Pikes Peak outside of Colorado Springs.

At an altitude of 14,115 feet, the top of the mountain is typically about 30 to 40 degrees cooler than at the base.

If you don’t feel like driving, biking or hiking the mountain, take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. It takes about 3 1/2 hours round trip and offers unforgettable views.

Distance from downtown Denver: 78 miles

Rafting and tubing in the Rocky Mountains

No matter what your experience level, Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting in Idaho Springs and other commercial rafting companies offer a great way to have fun and enjoy the outdoors as you travel along Clear Creek.

Distance from downtown Denver: 33 miles

Ski or snowboard at Copper Mountain

Ever dreamed of hitting the slopes in the middle of summer? Copper Mountain makes it possible using snow at Big Island Terrain Park.

It’s open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. until Oct. 1.

Distance from downtown Denver: 84.1 miles

Soda Lakes Water Ski School 

There’s something for kids and adults at the Soda Lakes located near C-470 and Morrison Road.

The bigger lake offers rentals for paddle boats, canoes, paddleboards and kayaks. It also has a swimming beach, volleyball courts and more.

If you’re more adventurous, you can take water skiing lessons on the smaller lake at Soda Lakes Water Ski School. Lessons are available for people of all ages.

Distance from downtown Denver: 17.5 miles

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