The Swimming Holes of Crested Butte
Crested Butte summers are glorious. Days are warm and not too hot; however, July and August days can definitely require a dip in some water. As nearby mountain snowpack melts, it fills our local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes creating some great places to cool off. Below is a list of a few of my favorites swimming holes in Crested Butte.
- Long Lake – Long Lake (aka Meridian Lake) is a narrow lake that is perfect for a swim. There are two ways to get up to Long Lake. I prefer the short route, but it is a steep hike. Drive up Washington Gulch Road about two miles until you reach the trailhead pullout on the left. You’ll see a little creek you have to walk through and then the climb begins. The hike will warm you up for the cool swim!
- Emerald Lake – This lake is breathtaking. When you see it for the first time you’ll realize how the lake got its name. Steep mountainsides surround the lake making for phenomenal photos. Grab some picnic food and a blanket and just take in the views. You’ll be above 11,000 feet in elevation so plan on swimming only if it’s a really warm day. There will probably be some snow still around you! To get to Emerald Lake, take Gothic Road a few miles past the Gothic townsite. You won’t miss it!
- Lake Irwin – The town of Irwin was once a booming mining town with more than 5,000 residents, but today hosts just a few homes and one beautiful lake. This is a great family spot. Grab the fishing poles and a paddleboard. You’ll be able to spend the whole day out there.
- Devil’s Punchbowl – This one is literally just a swimming hole, and it’s one of the most beautiful in the area. Getting there does require a bit of a hike, but it’s well worth it. You’ll walk by cascading waterfalls until you reach the waterfall leading to the swimming hole. On a busy day, you might find some courageous cliff divers.
I hope you get to enjoy these local gems and cool off on a perfect summer day.