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11 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge offers a wide selection of lakes. However, many of them have recreational limits, especially on water contact activities like swimming and waterskiing. Still, fishing, boating, paddling, camping, and hiking are all popular.
ItIsWild.com: Best recreational Lakes near Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge provides a wide selection of lakes suitable for summer and winter activities. However, many of them have restrictions on water contact, prohibiting swimming, waterskiing, and scuba diving.

In fact, the only lake in the area where swimming and waterskiing are possible is Green Mountain Reservoir, 37 miles from the city.

Still, the rest of the options are fantastic fishing and paddling spots, and many offer campgrounds and stunning views of Colorado ridges.

In winter, many of these lakes offer ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Whenever you’re visiting, there are plenty of lake options. Check out what Breckenridge has to offer!  

Lakes near Breckenridge:

  1. Sawmill Reservoir
  2. Goose Pasture Tarn
  3. Montgomery Reservoir
  4. Dillon Reservoir
  5. Antero Reservoir
  6. Spinney Mountain Reservoir
  7. Eleven Mile Reservoir
  8. Officers Gulch Pond
  9. Green Mountain Reservoir
  10. Blue Lakes
  11. Mohawk Lakes
Lakes near Breckenridge Colorado Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Sawmill Reservoir

Sawmill Reservoir in Breckenridge
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Sawmill Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 2 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking

A short distance west of the heart of Breckenridge, Sawmill Reservoir is a popular location for locals and tourists alike. 

The best starting place to access Sawmill Reservoir is near the Snowflake lift at the ski resort. An easy-to-hike 1.5-mile trail follows a stream that leads to the 10-acre reservoir. 

The trail to Sawmill Reservoir is a family-friendly journey most of the year. The walk involves only a moderate elevation gain of fewer than 250 feet, making this an easy trail except during times when ice and snow packs are an issue. 

Paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes are sometimes spotted at Sawmill. At over 9,900 feet in elevation, this destination is a great escape within Colorado’s Summit County. 

Open throughout the year, visitors enjoy seasonal change while also having the ability to fish for brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. 

Related: 19 Best Hikes and Climbs near Dillon, CO

2. Goose Pasture Tarn

Goose Pasture Tarn in Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Goose Pasture Tarn
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 4 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Located 4 miles south of Breckenridge near Colorado State Road 9, Goose Pasture Tarn developed as a reservoir along the Blue River after crews built an earthen dam for the Town of Breckenridge in 1965. 

Tarn is a name used for smaller mountain lakes or reservoirs. The normal retention level for the Goose Pasture Tarn averages approximately 68 surface acres. 

Two restrictions limit access along the lake. Although the water within the tarn and the Goose Pasture Tarn Dam are owned by Breckinridge, all property encircling the tarn is privately owned within the municipality of Blue River, and that town has limited access and recreational rights to residents and guests who accompany them. 

Regular patrols enforce these restrictions, as well as others involving fishing limits and the use of non-motorized boats. Swimming and other direct water contact activities are prohibited for everyone. 

Although trout are usually found in the tarn, the second restriction applies to everyone: The lake closed beginning of 2021 and will not reopen until 2023. The recent drawdown of the reservoir allows workers to repair and replace sections of the dam. 

3. Montgomery Reservoir

Montgomery Reservoir in Colorado
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Montgomery Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 14 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking

Montgomery Reservoir sits at 10,873 feet, nearly 1,000 feet higher than much of Breckenridge. Owned by Colorado Springs Utilities, this reservoir, 14 miles south of town, came into being in 1957 after the construction of the Montgomery Dam. 

The surface area of the reservoir averages 95 acres, with much of the water coming from the western side of the Continental Divide to suit the needs of a city on the eastern side. 

The Hoosier Tunnel is an inter-basin transfer that diverts the water to the eastern side of the Rockies from the west. 

Surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in Colorado, the “14ers,” which exceed 14,000 feet in height, the views along the reservoir are impressive. 

Those unfamiliar with the area should take note that access from State Road 9 to the lake involves rough roads better fit for four-wheel-drive vehicles. A short hike from a primitive parking area provides reservoir access. 

Boats and direct contact with the water are prohibited, though shoreline fishing is permitted. Anglers enjoy the presence of cutbow trout and rainbow trout. 

There are no campgrounds nearby, but White River National Forest maintains several dispersed campsites in the area.

4. Dillon Reservoir

Paddleboarding on Dillon Reservoir
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Dillon Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 13 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Located a short drive north of Breckenridge, Dillon Reservoir offers numerous recreation opportunities in one of the most developed sections of the Rockies along Interstate 70. 

The 3,233-acre reservoir began to fill after a dam impounded water from the Blue River and Snake River in 1963. 

Denver Water owns and maintains the dam as a water source for this city, more than 70 miles to the east. 

Biking, jogging, hiking, boating, fishing, and winter activities are common around the reservoir. The communities of Dillon, Keystone, Silverthorne, and Frisco have a variety of businesses and accommodations to serve the region’s tourism.

Fishing is permitted along much of the shoreline, with trout being the top catch. Ice fishing is also very popular.

Swimming and towed water activities like waterskiing and wakeboarding are prohibited at Dillon Reservoir.

Related: 19 Best Hikes and Climbs near Dillon, CO

5. Antero Reservoir

Antero Reservoir Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Antero Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 50 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Biking

Located 50 miles south of Breckenridge, Antero Reservoir is perfectly named for its importance in supplying Denver with drinking water. 

Spanish for ‘first’, Antero was the name given to the first dam, one built in 1909, along the South Platte River that filled an ancient lake bed. Owned by Denver Water, this reservoir provides water to Denver, more than 110 miles northeast of the reservoir.

Fishing is popular here, though droughts have left the lake levels low on occasion. Popular fish in the reservoir include splake, cutbow, brown trout, brook trout, and cutthroat trout. 

In addition to fishing, boating and paddling are popular at the lake. Yet, swimming and waterskiing are prohibited at Antero Reservoir.

The lake’s campground offers free camping opportunities on a first come, first served basis. The area is exposed to the wind and sun with few trees or shade.

6. Spinney Mountain Reservoir

spinney mountain reservoir in colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Spinney Mountain Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 58 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Windsurfing

A drive nearly 60 miles southeast of town brings visitors to Spinney Mountain Reservoir, an artificial body that serves as a drinking water source for Aurora. 

Named for Ben Spinney, a rancher in this area, the site was once a wildflower viewing site along a once-existing railroad. 

Located downriver along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River from Antero Reservoir, this lake grew to nearly 2,500 acres after Aurora officials oversaw the completion of the dam in 1981. 

Public recreation opportunities began in 1982 and have occurred under the management of the state park system since 1988, with the creation of Spinney Mountain State Park.

Strong winds make this a popular site for sailboarding. Hiking and birding trails offer pleasant diversions, too. 

Although there are no campgrounds in this park, anglers enjoy day trips casting a line for trout and northern pike. 

7. Eleven Mile Reservoir

Eleven Mile Reservoir and State Park
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Eleven Mile Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 64 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Windsurfing

Eleven Mile Reservoir offers great fishing and camping along a body of water that satisfies the thirst of Denver residents. 

Located within Eleven Mile State Park, a drive of a little more than 60 miles southwest of town and 10 miles from Spinney Mountain Reservoir, this lake took shape after the completion of the Eleven Mile Canyon Dam in 1932, providing 3,400 surface acres for recreation.

The Denver Water Board owns the reservoir and over 7,500 acres surrounding it. Boats (including power boats), sailboats, canoes, and windsurfers with full-body gear may enter the reservoir. 

In addition to fishing and boating, this park offers camping, hiking, birding, hunting, and winter activities. Direct human contact with this drinking water source is prohibited.

Fishing tournaments frequently take place here. Common catches include northern pike, trout, kokanee salmon, and carp. Portable ice fishing shelters are permitted. 

Related: 19 Best Hikes and Climbs near Dillon, CO

8. Officers Gulch Pond

Officers Gulch Pond in Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Officers Gulch Pond
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 14 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking

Officers Gulch Pond is an easy-to-access destination throughout most of the year. This pond, a 14-mile drive along Interstate 70 to exit 198, has crystal clear waters. 

This lake was named in honor of an early settler and miner in the area, James Officer. 

Visitors will find a convenient parking lot near the lake. Seasonal snow melts may affect the size of this lake, located 9,111 feet above sea level. 

Although there is no dock or boat launch, anglers stopping at Officer Gulch Pond may carry hand-launched watercraft. 

Those casting a line at this pond will see a variety of trout, including brook and rainbow.

9. Green Mountain Reservoir

Green Mountain Reservoir in Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Green Mountain Reservoir
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 37 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Green Mountain Reservoir is a drive of 37 miles northwest of the town along State Road 9. This 2,125-acre reservoir took shape along the Blue River after crews built a dam and power plant between 1938 and 1943. 

The reservoir is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project that diverted water from the western slope to the eastern side to serve growing Front Range populations around Denver. 

Reservoir guests visiting its impressive 19-mile shoreline enjoy camping, hiking, canoeing, biking, fishing, sailboarding, and power boating. 

Unlike most lakes around Breckenridge, water contact activities are allowed at Green Mountain Reservoir, making swimming, waterskiing, and wakeboarding possible.

Given the wide expanse of the reservoir, storms and strong winds that come across the mountains sometimes pose a problem for the casual boater.

Although fishing and ice fishing are year-round options, ice conditions should be checked during winter visits. 

Fish commonly caught include lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee.

Heeney Marina offers boat rentals, slips, and basic facilities.

10. Blue Lakes

Quandary Peak, Colorado with lakes
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Blue Lakes
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 11 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking

A drive of slightly more than 11 miles south of town affords an opportunity to visit the Blue Lakes and a waterfall while surrounded by impressive mountains. 

To most people familiar with traveling in Colorado, the phrase “Blue Lakes” commonly refers to bodies of water in the Telluride and Ridgeway areas in the southwestern part of the state. 

The Blue Lakes near Breckenridge are easy to access, except during the winter and times when heavy snowpack is an issue. 

The Blue Lakes south of the town get a lot of traffic during the summer season, with parking areas a short distance away from the falls and lakes filling up fast. 

Water flows along Monte Cristo Creek into Blue Lakes, where a dam impounds the water on the eastern side of this body of water. The waterfall is immediately east of the dam.

Those who wish to cast a line for cutthroat trout will not be disappointed. A “leave-no-trace” practice is expected to preserve natural beauty.

Related: 19 Best Hikes and Climbs near Dillon, CO

11. Mohawk Lakes

Lower mohawk lake colorado
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Mohawk Lakes
  • Distance from Breckenridge: 5 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking

A short 5-mile drive south of the town and a hike bring adventurers to the Mohawk Lakes. These two lakes are popular spots to hike among lakes in the immediate area of Spruce Creek. 

Access to the trailhead for hiking to these lakes is found on Spruce Creek Road. 

Those not familiar with rough and sometimes unpaved roads should check with locals, and everyone should bring sufficient water and other necessary items.

Hikers will enjoy the beauty and changing landscapes as they ascend the trail. Continental Falls is a popular stopping point along the route as it follows Spruce Creek. The source of the falls is the Mohawk Lakes above it. 

Continuing along the Mosquito Range’s eastern slopes, hikers reach Lower Mohawk Lake at an elevation of 11,861 feet, near the treeline. Views of Mount Helen and other ranges are visible from the lake area.

Upper Mohawk Lake occupies a steep-walled bowl at an elevation of 12,104 feet. From this lake, the views are better since much of this space is above the treeline. 

Fishing at either of the Mohawk Lakes is possible for those who carry equipment and enjoy cutthroat trout. Other small lakes, much more difficult to reach, are also in the area.

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