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15 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Colorado Springs

There are many lakes and reservoirs around Colorado Springs, but most of them are sources of water for this densely populated area which limits recreational use. Fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are the most common activities here.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Colorado Springs
Pikes Peak panorama. Snow-capped and forested mountains near a mountain lake, Pikes Peak Mountains in Colorado Spring, Colorado, USA

Colorado Springs is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and reservoirs. But similar to the rest of the state, most of them are water sources for the city, which limits recreational use.

Typically, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are allowed, but camping and boating options are few. For example, the only reservoir where waterskiing and wakeboarding are possible is Lake Pueblo, some 50 miles south.

Still, Colorado’s stunning views, fresh air, and hiking opportunities are hard to beat. Check out what Colorado Springs has to offer!

Lakes near Colorado Springs:

  1. Quail Lake
  2. Prospect Lake
  3. Pikeview Reservoir
  4. Monument Lake
  5. Palmer Lake
  6. Crystal Creek Reservoir
  7. South Catamount Reservoir
  8. North Catamount Reservoir
  9. Rampart Reservoir
  10. Lake Pueblo
  11. Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir
  12. Cheesman Lake
  13. Eleven Mile Reservoir
  14. Spinney Mountain Reservoir
  15. Antero Reservoir
Lakes near Colorado Springs Colorado Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Quail Lake

Paddleboarding in Colorado during fall
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Quail Lake
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Walking, Paddleboarding

A little more than four miles south of downtown, Quail Lake is a 22-acre reservoir created after a crew impounded a small tributary of Fountain Creek. 

The city of Colorado Springs maintains the park surrounding the lake, which offers popular outdoor activities throughout the year and incredible views of the Cheyenne Mountains immediately to the west. Colorado Parks & Wildlife stocks the reservoir with fish. 

Quail Lake Park is a great place to get away from the nearby hustle and bustle. Its waters often have a turquoise appearance, very inviting to those who bring kayaks or small boats. 

A loop trail offers access around the lake, including tree-shaded areas on the southern shore that are perfect for bank fishing. 

Parking lots often fill during weekends as people come here to enjoy the fresh air and trails that are stroller-friendly. 

Other amenities include a playground, volleyball courts, and picnic areas. Open year-round, this park is a place where people gather to sled during the winter. 

Fish found in the lake include channel catfish, striped bass, carp, rudd, bluegill, and green sunfish.

2. Prospect Lake

Hot Air Baloon on Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Prospect Lake
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 2 miles (5 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Walking, Biking

Located a short distance east of downtown, Prospect Lake played an important role in the early history of Colorado Springs. 

A marshy area when the city received these lands in 1887, workers created dams along the marsh to establish Prospect Lake as a source of drinking water by the 1890s. 

Soon, residents flocked to the newly-created lake for recreational purposes. This trend has continued to this day, with the addition of a bathhouse in 1937 and many new amenities in recent years.

The 194-acre park surrounding Prospect Lake was renamed Memorial Park in 1948, in honor of those who served during World War II and earlier wars. 

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center Velodrome was added to the park in 1983, the site of many world records for cyclists. Multiple sports fields and tennis courts also sit within Memorial Park, along with a paved trail with fitness stations. 

Water activities at Prospect Lake attract many visitors. Along with the boat ramp, the lake accommodates paddleboarding and boating, and public ice skating during the winter. 

Since the lake tends to be ice-free earlier than other local bodies of water, fish restocking happens here before other locations. Rainbow trout are the most common fish caught by anglers. Other fish include crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, and saugeye.

3. Pikeview Reservoir

Kayaking in winter in Colorado
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Pikeview Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Located five miles north of downtown, Pikeview Reservoir sits within an urbanized area, yet offers bountiful amounts of trout that remind anglers of remote mountain lakes. 

This warm-water reservoir offers shore and dockside fishing that attracts locals from mid-May to mid-October, and remains open from ice melt to freeze.

Just a few miles east of the spectacular Garden of the Gods park, the reservoir sits along the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail and a segment of Monument Creek, the source for this reservoir. This fishing area and trailhead have two piers. 

Anglers in search of rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and saugeye will enjoy a visit to this destination. 

4. Monument Lake

  • Website: Monument Lake
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 21 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Monument Lake is 21 miles north of downtown Colorado Springs. Slightly larger than 30 surface acres, the lake traces its origins to the 1870s, when early settlers diverted water flowing along Monument Creek to sustain the people in the area. 

Authorities in the town of Monument monitor the lake and dam, now a prime location for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The earthen impoundment of Monument Creek sits on the south side of the lake, with a parking area on the east side. 

Although no swimming is permitted in the lake, town authorities do permit electric trolling motors. Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes also fill the lake during busy summer months. No boat ramps exist, so visitors must hand-launch their watercraft. 

This lake offers those who cast a line the opportunity to catch bass, bluegill, rainbow trout, catfish, perch, and pike. When the lake freezes over, ice fishing is popular.

5. Palmer Lake

Paddleboarding in Colorado
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Palmer Lake
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 25 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

In the foothills 25 miles north of downtown, Palmer Lake was named in honor of the founder of Colorado Springs, Gen. William Jackson Palmer. 

A day-use parking area, playground, and pavilion were added on its east side in the mid-1980s. The town of Palmer Lake manages access to the lake and the facilities at this site.

Since the early 2010s, drought conditions – coupled with increased water demand – have taken a toll on Palmer Lake. It dried out in 2012, leading to a grassroots “Awake the Lake” effect to restore the lake’s water level. 

The Palmer Lake Restoration Committee is a non-profit advocacy organization created to find long-term solutions. The lake almost dried out again in 2014 but has recovered since then.

Hand-launched canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards may use this lake, but there is no swimming permitted. The regional recreational trail system passes by the lake’s eastern shore. 

Rainbow trout, pike, perch, and catfish are common catches. Ice fishing is permitted here. 

6. Crystal Creek Reservoir

Crystal Creek Reservoir Colorado
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Crystal Creek Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 17 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A drive 17 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, Crystal Creek Reservoir is a little more than halfway along the route that brings people to the top of Pikes Peak. This reservoir took shape in 1935 after a dam impounded water for Colorado Springs and neighboring areas. 

As part of the North Slope Recreation Area, Crystal Creek is reached approximately 4.5 miles after the paid entrance area to Pikes Peak. A visitors center is available at this site after driving over the dam. 

Although the size of Crystal Creek Reservoir varies, it averaged 136 acres until a few years ago, when workers drained it while resurfacing the steel face of the dam. Their work continues into 2022. 

When the reservoir is filled once again, shoreline fishing and non-motorized boating will resume. As a drinking water source, the reservoir will remain closed to swimming during the public access season, which generally runs from May to mid-October each year. 

Restocking of fish will occur, with species such as trout placed in the lake. 

7. South Catamount Reservoir

A reservoir near Pikes Peak Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: South Catamount Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 18 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

South Catamount Reservoir is accessible by driving less than 2.5 miles beyond Crystal Creek Reservoir. The second of three drinking-water reservoirs for Colorado Springs in the North Slope Recreation Area, South Catamount, is accessible from a parking area after passing Crystal Creek on the Pikes Peak Highway.

At 120 surface acres, South Catamount is the smallest of the three reservoirs on the North Slope. Hiking and mountain biking are permitted on established trails in the area. 

Anglers may use bait, except for minnows. Rooftop, inflatable, or truck-bed-fitting vessels are allowed in South Catamount. 

Please note that no trailers are permitted anywhere along Pikes Peak Highway. Lake trout and rainbow trout are in high demand at South Catamount. 

8. North Catamount Reservoir

North Catamount Reservoir in winter
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: North Catamount Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 19 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Traveling a few minutes northwest of South Catamount brings visitors to the last and largest of the three notable North Slope Reservoirs, the 210-acre North Catamount Reservoir. 

With a dock near the parking area and more than 6.5 miles of shoreline – most of it accessible by trails – North Catamount offers excellent fishing for those who use artificial flies or lures. No other bait is permitted. 

Similar to Crystal Creek and South Catamount, North Catamount used to be closed to public access and recreational use. 

All three areas first opened for fishing and hiking in 1992. These three reservoirs are open for access during a season that usually lasts from early May until late October, depending on weather conditions. 

Rainbow, lake, and cutthroat trout swim in this freshwater reservoir. 

9. Rampart Reservoir

Rampart Reservoir Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Rampart Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 29 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Rampart Reservoir is a 29-mile drive northwest of downtown, in Pike National Forest, beyond Woodland Park. Created in 1967 after a dam impounded a section of West Monument Creek, Rampart Reservoir offers another source of drinking water for Colorado Springs. 

Recreational use in and around this nearly 500-acre reservoir began in the early 1970s. Hiking, mountain biking, and fishing bring crowds here during its operational season between May and October. 

Some enjoy the challenging 13.8-mile loop trail around the reservoir. The US Forest Service opened Promontory Picnic Area as a place to enjoy impressive views, as well as Thunder Ridge Campground for camping near the reservoir. 

Fish found in Rampart Reservoir include trout, muskellunge, and splake. 

10. Lake Pueblo

Lake Pueblo State Park Marina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Pueblo
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 50 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Nearly 50 miles south of the city, Lake Pueblo features 60 miles of shoreline comprising more than 4,600 surface acres. 

A popular fishing “hot spot,” this lake holds state fishing records for blue catfish (29.13 pounds in 2019), flathead catfish (30.6 pounds in 2017), and wiper, also known as hybrid striped bass (26.94 pounds in 2004). 

Also named Pueblo Reservoir, this artificial lake took shape after the impoundment of the Arkansas River in the mid-1970s as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. 

The dam supplies water, generates hydroelectric power, and has created a great recreation location centered around Lake Pueblo State Park. The park offers hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and year-round lake access. 

The Pueblo fish hatchery near the dam is open year-round for those interested in how the state replenishes the fish population in public waterways. Fish commonly caught from the lake include bass, crappie, catfish, and walleye. 

11. Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir

A little more than 16 miles southwest of the city and more than 3,600 feet higher in elevation, Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir is an alpine waterway created when workers built a dam along East Beaver Creek. 

This 72-acre impoundment was originally created to supply water for the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel. Located within Pike National Forest, the reservoir is now part of the Rosemont Reservoir State Wildlife Area.

Access requires driving along rough, dirt-and-gravel US Forest Service roads. Signage is difficult to see, but the reservoir’s shoreline is a half-mile walk from the parking area. 

Fishing is along the shoreline or with a float tube, other craft is prohibited. Due to its elevation, the lake may remain frozen well into the spring. Trout, catfish, and carp swim within the reservoir waters.

12. Cheesman Lake

cheesman canyon fishing
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Cheesman Lake 
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 45 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Hiking

Forty-five miles northwest of downtown, Cheesman Lake offers scenic beauty and great fishing. This 877-acre reservoir is named for Walter S. Cheesman, a Denver water pioneer. 

The impressive dam built in 1905 provides drinking water to Denver. Also known as Cheesman Reservoir, the top recreation activities at this lake are enjoying the breathtaking views along the trails, checking out the picturesque Cheesman Canyon, and fishing. Swimming, boating, and camping are prohibited.

Fishing is allowed along the Goose Creek Arm, in the lake’s northwestern corner. The northern pike is a popular catch. 

Access to fishing is not allowed from October until the end of April. Denver Water also prohibits any water contact sports or ice fishing. 

13. Eleven Mile Reservoir

Eleven Mile Reservoir and State Park
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Eleven Mile Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 64 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, 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 64 miles northwest 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. 

14. Spinney Mountain Reservoir

spinney mountain reservoir in colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Spinney Mountain Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 60 miles (1h 20min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Windsurfing

A drive nearly 60 miles northwest 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. 

15. Antero Reservoir

Antero Reservoir Colorado
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Antero Reservoir
  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 76 miles (1h 35min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Biking

Located 76 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, 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.

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