Beautiful Lakes in Colorado

There are many beautiful lakes in Colorado. We'll bring you to many of them, electronically, to give you ideas for a real-world visit to the lake of your choice.

With purchases made via links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Details at our Advertising Policy

Beautiful Colorado Lakes to Visit

Coloradans love these beautiful lakes in their state. But anyone is welcome to come enjoy these lakes in Colorado. What beautiful lakes in Colorado are there to visit?

These lovely lakes are scattered throughout, and may attract you for a variety of reasons. Let's sort them by a few categories. Or you can just scroll on down to remotely visit them all!

Colorado Small Town Lake Parks

Grand Lake - From I-70, 40N to Granby, then 34N to Colorado's largest natural lake.

The town of Grand Lake is known for its roughhewn styling, but behind that its history finds it was built from big bucks!1 

It's known for several things: Rocky Mountain National Park & Arapaho National Recreation Area access, world's highest yacht club & Snowmobile Capital of Colorado. They claim to be a year-round vacation paradise.

Some say it's scenery is tops! What to do?2

  • Kayaking, canoeing - even rent bumper boats
  • Plenty of great campsites all around
  • All the winter sports including skiing, snowmobiles, cross-country skiing
  • Lake boating & fishing
  • Larger Shadow Mountain Lake adjacent
  • Point Park is on Grand Lake, with picnic tables, benches, pavilions, dock - take a dip if you're brave! Limited parking, but street parking ok.

Overland Trail Recreation Area - Sterling, off I-76 Exit 125 to Business 76/6 West. Onto 370 North, see the Rec Area lake on left. 121 N. Riverview Rd.

  • Paved trail around the lake. Dogs are allowed to swim! But not people, but they can fish.3
  • And don't miss the nearby State Park:

Crawford State Park - Nearby the pleasant small town of Crawford in Western Colorado, SE of Grand Junction.

Onshore of Crawford Reservoir, the park's enjoyably exquisite scenery is just for starters. Along with trails, all kinds of water activities, winter action & camping.

Take Hwy.92 South out of Crawford for 1 mile+. 970-921-5721

  • On/In The Water - Swim beach for all (except pets), but remember: at your own risk. Best waterski time is mid-May to Mid-Aug. Calling all scuba divers - be sure to bring your diving marker flag! 
  • Boating of all kinds! But lake boat capacity is 60. Jet Ski area, cruise counter clock-wise. Paddle boards, considered vessels, sounding device & PFD required. Wind conditions ideal for Sailboarding in May & June (may want a wetsuit!).
  • Fishing - Crawford Lake is known for fantastic perch (no limit) & crappie (limit 20/day) fishing. But there's also Northern Pike (no limit), channel catfish (limit 10/day), & largemouth bass (limit 1/day: minimum 18"). No live fish bait allowed.
  • Picnicking - Several areas available, with a group section (call office to reserve this one) for get-togethers. Tables & grills/fire rings.
  • Trails - Nice hiking trails around the park, some ADA accessible. Some suitable for bicycles. The Peninsula has a story walk trail, which is fun & educational. [No horseback or OHV trails in the park.]
  • Camping - Two campgrounds are lakeside, approx. 60 sites, many with electric/water. Site reservations required (up to 6 months prior). 1-800-244-5613
  • Winter Fun Activities - Cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing, when snow levels permit. Ice fishing when ice 6"/+ thick.  Peninsula snowtubing when snow levels permit. 
  • Iron Creek CGLimited facility/site camping.

Lake Capote Recreation Area - In Pagosa Springs, within Southern Ute Tribal lands. A restful, pleasing setting.

They're open for recreational fishing, boating, day-use (non-tribal car rate = $5/day) or camping. 

  • Fishing: No Colorado State license needed.
  • Note that Southern Ute Stream Fishing Permits are for streams only, so here the Daily Lake Fishing Permit is Required.
  • Non-tribal: adults (age 13+)-$10/Youth-$4. SUIT Tribe: adults-$4/Youth & Elders(Age 55+)-Free.
  • Camping: Tenting-$18/day, RV Sites/utilities-$25/day. SUIT Tribe: Tenting-Free, RV Sites/utilities-$10/day.
  • See the Osprey Nest Web Cam - Live Now on Lake Capote!
  • Open seasonally: 10 March-all Oct., four days/week, Thurs.-Sun., plus add Mon. holiday weekends. 
  • Any questions: 970-883-2273.

Appealing Birding Lakes in Colorado

Pearl Lake - Beautiful Routt National Forest mountain scenery at this No-Wake lake. Making it calmer for birding.

The lakeside state park has two accommodation choices:

  • Basic campsites with table & fire-ring OR
  • Yurt with electric heat, power, ceiling fan, table/chairs, 2 bunk-beds - lower is double futon, sleeps 6 total; outside picnic table & fire ring.

Must reserve: 800-244-5613.

  • About 153 bird species have been sighted around Pearl Lake.
  • Directions: Out of Steamboat Springs, take Hwy.40W, turn right onto Rt.129N. Drive 23 miles & turn east onto Pearl Lake Rd. to park entry.

Cheraw Lake - The draw here is the Colorado Birding Trail. But they really do attract a variety of birds,5 even though no fish here in 435 acres7 of alkaline (opposite of acid) waters.

Of course especially the water birds, like ducks & geese, are always around.

But shorebirds, more typically found in coastal/brackish wetlands, can be spotted during spring & fall migrations. For instance Avocets & Black-Necked Stilts have been observed.

Snowy Plovers & Clark's Grebe5 find conditions ideal for breeding here. In fact, at least 213 species have been identified.6 We have hints for stopping...

Colorado Birding Trail

Lake property is private, so no facilities available.5 Observe any posted signs.

For birding observation you must remain on the road, or from gravel parking areas.5 These options also:

  • South Main St. out of town goes directly to the lake & loops out again. 
  • There is a dirt road that circles parts of the lake, can't say of its condition.

Directions: In the small town of Cheraw. From Pueblo I-25 Exit 98A left onto Santa Fe Ave./Hwy.50E. Stay on Hwy.50 as it curves left & continue on until Rocky Ford. Make a left onto Rt.266, you'll cross the Arkansas River & by Ryan's Pond. But continue, passing Holbrook Reservoir on right, until getting to the intersection of Rt.109. Make a left, the lake's ahead on the right.

Highline Lake8 - Off I-70, North of Loma in Western Colorado, accessed from the state park. Take Hwy.139N 6 mi., make left at Q Rd. Make right on 11.8 Road to Eastern park entrance.

A canal diverts Colorado River water to this 160 surface-acre lake. Experience this Grand Valley's wonderful oasis, which tons of birds so appreciate.

Near the east boat ramp is a fabulous area, with a Wildlife Kiosk, for sighting over 200 bird species here, including eagles, owls & even the Vermilion Flycatcher is a possibility.

Don't miss the Watchable Wildlife Overlook on the west side. Visitor center has bird lists for you.

Other Activities:

Park has campsites with grill, fire ring & picnic table. Water available, but no hook-ups. Site reservations required. 800-244-5613

Highline Lake has a swimming beach area in the state park. 

You can also boat or fish here, or hop over to adjacent Mack Mesa Lake. Both stocked with rainbow trout. But also try for largemouth bass, crappie & catfish.

  • For more info contact:

Sylvan Lake - The same named state park's website says "Sylvan means a peaceful, wooded place and that's what visitors will find at this beautiful park surrounded by the White River National Forest."9 

Doesn't that sound like one beautiful lake in Colorado?!

You'll love the chance to see Bald Eagles at this pristine lakeside. Watch for broad-tailed hummingbirds mountain bluebirds & ospreys.

42 surface-acres mean only non-motorized (rentals available) or slow-speed electric motor boating only. 

Several stay options here, with required reservations [800-244-5613]: 

1) Basic campsites/no hook-ups;

2) Yurts: heated, solar lighting, 2 futons & bunk-bed, table/chairs.

  • Outdoor picnic table, fire-ring/grill, bear-proof food-locker & vault toilet.

3) Cabins: Sleep 6. Have solar lighting & heat, table/chairs, storage shelves.

  • Outside there's a picnic table, fire ring/grill, water access, & vault toilet. 

Beautiful Lakes in Colorado Rocky Mountains

mountain lake with a peak's reflection in the water

Gore Lake - It's in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, north of Vail.

You must take the trail to get there. May be well worth it, if you're up for it!!

A bit more than 12 miles round trip. Considered difficult, but still it's popular.

You may catch a glimpse of wildlife, like mountain goats. Here's The Way>

Sprague Lake9,10 - This 13 acre lake has a gorgeous setting surrounded by the mountain scenery. Approx. 8700' elevation.

Yet you can take a nice lakeside trail that's pretty level. So it's great for families with smaller children. Just less than a mile, looping around the lake.

  • For late winter/early spring be aware snow likely still in the area. 
  • There's a Park Shuttle to take you there in busy season.
  • Possible wildlife sightings like moose or beaver! But don't bring your dog, prohibited on Rocky Mountain National Park trails.
  • From Estes Park, take Hwy.36W, make left onto Bear Lake Rd. Follow until making a left onto Sprague Lake Rd. to lake parking on the right.

Chambers Lake - 9200' feet above sea-level, this 255 surface-acre lake's environment is lodgepole pine forest.

Long winter season, so the area isn't accessible until late June, closing again by mid-Sept. But when open, what a beautiful Colorado lake!

With serene recreational opportunities.

Fishing: The cold water is ideal for rainbow & lake trout, also kokanee salmon.

  • You can bring your boat, but must run at wake-less speed. There's a ramp. 
  • Shore fishing best on the east side. Winter ice fishing allowed if you're willing to hike in from road closure.11

Camping: No hook-ups at Chambers Lake Campground. 44 sites with fire rings. Water is available.

There For The day? There's a Roosevelt National Forest picnic area as you turn into the campground road. $7 Day Use Fee.

Directions: Out of Fort Collins head north on Hwy.287. Turn left at Rt.14. In about 51 miles, turn right to campground (about 1 mile after Laramie River Road turnoff).

Lost Man Reservoir12,13,14 - A Sawatch Mountains' reservoir, in White River National Forest's gorgeous piney-woods surroundings. Its elevation nears 11,000'. 

It's known for fishing, especially trout.

For the reservoir, cross Hwy.82, take the trail, cross the bridge, in 1/2 mile take right fork, Lost Man Reservoir just ahead. 

What else can you do there?

Camping - Why not stay awhile? Stunning campsite as soon as you arrive in the area.

  • 10 Spots: 1st-come/1st-served. Open June-Oct. Picnic tables, fire pit/grill. Water & vault toilets.

Loop (sort-of) Hike - Lost Man Trailhead is across the road from the campground, out from parking lot.

  • The Whole Trail is less than 9 miles. Moderate, gradually climbs with a couple steep areas. 
  • You pass 3 alpine lakes (also Lost Man Lake & Independence Lake) & wildflowers galore (at the right time!). 
  • Turn it into a loop by having 2 cars, 1 at trails end.

Visit Independence Ghost Town - Self-tour with signage. Donations suggested.

  • About 4 miles east of the CG on Hwy.82.

Directions to the Area - From Aspen, drive east on Hwy.82 for 14 miles, arriving at Lost Man Campground at right. Trailhead parking on left.

Try these, too...

See References For Beautiful Lakes in Colorado>

Some Directional Information on This Page May be sourced from Map data ©Google