Best Lakes in Colorado

The best lakes in Colorado are throughout this gorgeous, scenic state. From the plains of the east, to the Rockies of the central part of the state. Then over to the Great Basin more arid high desert of the west. All around the state of Colorado there are lakes to be found.

As in other parts of the west, some of these lakes are suffering as a result of drought conditions. Water levels are lower than they had been years ago. Still we can enjoy these lakes, and keep in mind we need to do what we can to protect and preserve them.

We'll virtually travel to some of the best Colorado lakes, to see if you'd like to actually like to have a trip there!

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Lakes of the Rocky Mountains

Colorado lake surrounded by rocky mountain peaks

Some of these these Rocky Mountain Lakes may certainly be viewed as the most beautiful lakes in Colorado. But because of their beauty, into that serene and unspoiled environment, they may require some effort to see some of them! They're most worthwhile. Are you willing?

cliffs with floating clouds all reflect into a lake like you find in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Turquoise Lake - This lake 5 miles outside Leadville Colorado is loved by many. Sugarloaf Dam created this as a reservoir, yet it's at a pristine alpine elevation. Thus it could take your breath away not only for that, but for the surrounding vistas!

  • Huge, with 1800 surface acres, it's also quite cold. For water sports be sure to have a wet-suit.
  • Campsites lakeside are available at

Twin Lakes - About 20 miles south of Leadville, two adjacent lakes are near the same-named town. They're connected by a channel.

  • Numerous campsites and trailheads all around. 
  • Plus Mt. Elbert Forebay is nearby, and many smaller lakes. Like Lily Pond, right on the Continental Divide Trail. You won't be disappointed in the area.
  • From I-70, exit on Hwy. 24S., right onto Rt.82 gets you there.

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Sandbeach Lake - Not for the faint of heart or body. But if you're up for it, it's not to be beat. Hike a 4-1/2 mile track in, along the Sandbeach Lake Trail. Some steep treks along it.

  • That's the only access, no driving to it. 
  • Near the lake is a small campsite. 
  • And yes, this 16+ acre lake has a sandy beach,2 but wouldn't recommend a swim!
  • For the trailhead: Rt.7S out of Estes Park. Right on County Rd.84W to right onto Rt.115. Just down the road to parking area.
  • NOTE - Following Rt.115 past trailhead parking brings you to another of the best lakes in Colorado: Copeland Lake.

Best Lakes in Colorado Near Fort Collins

Horsetooth Reservoir - It's certainly the biggest reservoir. Made to serve water requirements of nearby Fort Collins & Greeley, plus other Poudre River Basin needs.

Arapaho Bend Natural Area - Take E.Harmony Rd. or E.Horsetooth Rd. east of town. Multiple ponds from reinvented gravel mining area. It adds valuable rural calm to an urban area. 

  • Supporting fishing, horse-back riding, birding & nature-walking. 
  • The Fort Collins Area has other Natural Areas where people can Go Fishing!

Boyd Lake - South of Fort Collins, before getting into Loveland. This 1700 acre lake allows all types of water-craft.

  • See wonderful Boyd Lake State Park, right on-shore. It has every lake activity: boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, swimmi​ng beach, hiking & biking. Contact: ​Boyd.Lake@State.Co.Us
  1. Campsites reservable, have electric, picnic table, grill, & fire-pit . Dump station, bathrooms with showers, laundry in spring/summer/fall.
  2. Access Entry via I-25 exit 257 to Hwy.34W. Take right at N.Boise Ave., merging right into N.County Road 11C. 

Best Lakes Near Colorado Springs

Quail Lake Park - Really nice family park with a boating & fishing (licensed) lake. Take the loop around the lake. It's ideal for jogging or bicycling. Boats must be non-motorized & permitted.

  • From CanAm Hwy./Ventucci Blvd., take E.Cheyenne Mountain Blvd. west to entrance.

Prospect Lake - Nice sized lake in the city's Memorial Park.

  • From Hwy.24 take S.Union Blvd. North to Prospect Lake Dr.

Willow Springs Ponds - Fabulous area incorporates multiple wetland ponds & lakes, a Regional Park and a Nature Center. Lots of watery activities give you examples of the best lake opportunities in Colorado. 719-520-7529

Best Mountain Lakes in Colorado

Ice Lake - Expect a steady climb uphill to 12,270 feet elevation in southwestern Colorado. Not for the meek!

  • A bit over 4 miles one-way. En route, you can access waterfall views & historic abandonments. 
  • It's a two-for-one best lakes in Colorado for scenery memories. Because first you pass Lower Ice Lake. But still more terrain to go, very steep in some areas. 
  • From Silverton drive north on Hwy.550 to Mineral Creek Rd., go left to Mineral Creek Campground, to find the Trailhead.

Maroon Lake - So Absolutely Gorgeous, now it's almost a waiting list to get there!

  • Well, not exactly. The area is said to be about the most photographed in the state. Yet two dimensions can't begin to show the grandeur. 
  • Be aware of the instructions To Visit, so you don't miss out.

Chatfield Lake - Although south of Denver, it's also a lake near Boulder CO.

  • With Chatfield State Park, and other recreation, it has everything to make it one of the best lakes in Colorado. It's a boating lake (all varieties) and a lake for swimming! 303-791-7275
  1. Camping Options - Tons of sites, even full hook-ups available. All have picnic tables & grills. Reserve a site: 800-244-5613.

Best Boating Lakes in Colorado

McPhee Reservoir - In San Juan National Forest, the southwest part of the state.

  • Has 50 shoreline miles. A marina has all services, including rentals. 
  • Open seasonally, & closed Mon./Tue. All types of boating allowed.
  • Looking to fish? It's stocked with cold & warm water species. 
  • Camping available, some electric hook-ups. Can reserve at Season: May-Sept.3

Homestake Reservoir - At 42,900 acre-feet, there's lots of room here. Created for Aurora & Colorado Springs water utilities, it's within White River National Forest.

  • So managed by the National Forest Service, and has recreational opportunities.
  • Have you dreamed of canoeing or kayaking in a large space, where you don't have to compete with wave-runners, water-skiers, or speed boats? 
  • How about quietly fishing out of your rowboat? 
  • This lake is for you! You can only launch a hand-powered boat here.
  • And it's not easy to get to - but may be worth your while. Check To See.

John Martin Reservoir - Created with waters from the Arkansas River. On the eastern side of the state.

  • This is one of the best lakes in Colorado for boating because it's sooo roomy! 
  • From your water-craft (all types allowed), you can fish for walleye, bass, crappie, perch & catfish. Only thing, watch water levels, as the boat-ramps may present difficulties. 
  • If anyone swims from a boat in the reservoir, they must wear a flotation-vest. No lifeguards, so it's at your own risk. 
  • Remember there is a swimming beach at smaller Lake Hasty, within John Martin Reservoir State Park.
  • Any further details: 719-829-1801

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