August 16  |  Our Communities

7 Amazing Lakes to Visit Near Fort Collins

NOTE: Click here for a more updated version of this post (published July 2020), covering these lakes and others in Northern Colorado.

During the heat of a Colorado summer, it’s important to have a list of nearby lakes handy. If it’s hot enough to dive into these refreshing waters, take note of the lakes that allow swimming. If you’d rather enjoy the lake’s splendor from above the water, head to a lake perfect for boating or fishing. Or simply visit one to rest alongside, for a peaceful backdrop for that enticing novel you can’t put down.

Boulder Reservoir

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes

Activities: Boating, swimming, sunbathing, water skiing, fishing, picnicking, walking, running, cycling and wildlife viewing

Boulder Reservoir Colorado

Photos courtesy of the City of Boulder Colorado

Boulder Reservoir is certainly worth the drive to Boulder — for its massive size and endless options for recreation alongside and within the waters. In fact, the swim beach at the reservoir is one of the largest swimming beaches in all of Colorado with a seasonal lifeguard presence, and even includes a shallow roped-off area perfect for small children to splash around in. Get a lay of the land with this colorful map before your visit!


Boyd Lake

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 30 Minutes

Activities: Boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking and biking

Boyd Lake Colorado

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Visit Boyd Lake State Park for all the water sports activity you can possible imagine, as this lake accepts all types of watercraft including ski boats, fishing boats, jet skis, sailboats and canoes. This lake is situated in a beautiful setting at the western-most edge of the plains at the foot of Long’s Peak and the mountains of the Continental Divide.


Carter Lake Reservoir

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 45 Minutes

Activities: Fishing, sailing, water skiing, camping, picnicking, swimming and scuba diving

Carter Lake Colorado

Photo courtesy of Carter Lake

Visit Carter Lake nestled between Loveland and Berthoud, where you’ll find a beautiful reservoir just over 1,000 acres surrounded by 1,000 acres of public lands. Visitors love this lake for fishing, sailing, water skiing, swimming, and even scuba diving! Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase an entrance permit upon arrival, costing $7 per vehicle or $14 per vehicle and boat with a trailer.


Lake Estes

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 1 Hour

Activities: Boating, fishing, biking, swimming and picnicking

Estes Park Marina Colorado

Photo courtesy of Estes Park Resort

Stop by the Lake Estes Marina situated along Lake Estes for everything you’ll need to enjoy this lake to the fullest. You can rent boats, including paddle boats, single and double kayaks, canoes, fishing boats and several pontoon boats. Or you can opt to enjoy the lake from the land with a leisurely bike ride upon one of their rented bicycles. You may even enjoy a picnic in the open-air pavilion or let the kids splash around in the marina’s wading area!


Horsetooth Reservoir

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 20 Minutes

Activities: Fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, swimming, scuba diving and water skiing.

Horsetooth Reservoir Colorado

Photo courtesy of Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir is a well-known body of water in the Fort Collins area, for its proximity to the city and secluded natural setting. The 6.5 miles of water are teeming with activity, where you can go fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, swimming, scuba diving and water skiing. A daily entrance permit is required at Horsetooth as well, costing $7 per vehicle or $14 per vehicle with a boat trailer.


Lake Loveland

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 25 Minutes

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking and more

Lake Loveland Colorado

Photo courtesy of the City of Loveland, Colorado

Lake Loveland is the center of activity for all of Loveland and its visitors. The lake itself is reserved for the use of surrounding homeowners, but the south shore allows guests to fish and enjoy a beautiful Rocky Mountain view. North Lake Park is a common gathering space, with a swim beach, a park with a train, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic area, an amphitheater, and more!


Windsor Lake

Location | Distance From Fort Collins: About 30 Minutes

Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming and hiking

Lake Windsor Colorado

Photos courtesy of Town of Windsor, Colorado

Take in the beauty of Windsor Lake from the 2.25-mile Windsor Lake Trail surrounding its perimeter, or from within a boat floating across its peaceful waters. You can even go swimming at the lake’s swim beach or take your dog to the dog park located on the north side of the lake. Windsor Lake will provide a picturesque backdrop for any activity!


Which lake do you love to visit in the area?

We would love to know your favorite!

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