The Cache La Poudre River – Best Places to Swim in Fort Collins
Warning! Swimming in the Cache la Poudre River is dangerous, especially during the spring runoff. Please use caution and judgement when swimming in any wild body of water.
After last year's floods, debris is still making it's way down stream, so one must be careful of that. Besides that, and some VERY cold temperatures, the Poudre has numerous spots around town and in the canyon that are deep enough, and nice enough, for swimming.
Park at Shields and the river, or further east, at Legacy Park, or even Lee Martinez Park. Between Shields and College, there are numerous holes that are deep enough for swimming.
About halfway between College and Shields on the north side of the river is a sandy beach next to a nice deep hole. Families, sun bathers, and dogs can often be found there. It's a great spot!
Be careful when swimming in the Poudre
It is a wild and scenic river with rapids that can be dangerous, especially during the runoff. Plus it comes from snow, so it is COLD! Especially in May and June. I've been swimming in the Poudre for more than ten years, and rarely could I get in until an 80 degree or hotter day in June. It is a very cold river. People tube it, and if most of your body is out of the water, that can be okay, but if you spend much time in water, you can easily experience hypothermia. When I swam early season, I would usually wear a 3/4 wetsuit.
As you can see in the photo above, snow becomes water, and that water is what makes up the Poudre River. Even in town, it is cold.
Picnic Rock is a great place to swim, because there is a sandy beach, a big hole and a rock from which to jump. As I said before, check any water before you jump in it. Before the 2013 floods, it was clear, but things have changed since then. Check for grilling regulations because Poudre Canyon is prone to wildfires. After you do that, enjoy the grills and numerous picnic areas around the picnic rock area.
Ansel Watrous Campground is a great place to swim around Fort Collins. You have to be staying there to play there. No day traffic is allowed. It's a great place to spend a night or two. It can be somewhat treacherous climbing the rocks and getting in and out of the water because it's wild, but it has a deep hole, big rocks from which to jump, and a nice slow flow.
There are many other places to swim in the Poudre. Be very careful, consider how cold the water is, and have a great time!