Best Lakes in Colorado Springs: Colorado Springs Lakes Recreation Guide
Posted by Lauren Schneider on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 at 12:23pm.
Colorado is synonymous with outdoor activities, especially in its Front Range cities. From backcountry hiking and overland camping to rock climbing and mountain biking, people will find it all in Colorado Springs. Water sports and activities are especially popular in the area, and locals and visitors alike enjoy easy access to numerous bodies of water. Whether people prefer fishing, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, or whitewater rafting, there's a lake or reservoir perfectly suited for every activity in Colorado Springs.
The City of Colorado Springs operates and maintains two lakes, Prospect and Quail. These lakes' in-town locations provide everyone with lovely respites from everyday life. At either lake, the opportunity to "get away from it all" exists without needing to travel far. Some waterfront luxury homes and condos even provide easy access to the following best lakes in Colorado Springs.
Prospect Lake Amenities
- Boating with motorized boats and paddle boats
- Walking trail
- Near Memorial Park
Centrally located in Memorial Park in the heart of Colorado Springs, 58-acre Prospect Lake is a year-round hub for water activities. Limited boating and use of personal watercraft is allowed at Prospect Lake, but there are a number of guidelines. For example, there are different days and times designated specifically for motorized and non-motorized boats, and certain parts of the lake are off-limits. Stand-up paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent seasonally, and visitors can swim in the designated beach area.
Prospect Lake is excellent for fishing rainbow trout, bluegill, and channel catfish, particularly in the spring and fall. For those who enjoy being near the water but don't necessarily want to be in or on it, there's the 1.25-mile fitness trail circling the lake. Memorial Park, Colorado's second-biggest at 40,000 square feet, is also close to the lake.
Quail Lake Amenities
- 22 acres
- Boating with non-motorized boats
- Wildlife viewing
Quail Lake is a smaller but incredibly scenic lake in southern Colorado Springs, nestled near Cheyenne Mountain. From anywhere on the 22-acre lake, visitors are treated to sweeping views of the Front Range, and wildlife sightings are common year-round. The lake is in Quail Lake Park and features a 1.1-mile lakeside loop for walking, jogging, and cycling.
Only non-motorized boats are allowed on Quail Lake; motorized boats and other watercraft are prohibited. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available, and thanks to the lake's warm water, these activities can be enjoyed all year. The same goes for fishing, and rainbow trout, bluegill, channel catfish, and sunfish are all available in Quail Lake. Fishermen can fish from anywhere on the shore or one of two handicap-accessible fishing piers.
Colorado Springs has several reservoirs throughout the city, most of which are used for storing safe, clean drinking water. The city's spectacular natural scenery provides picturesque backdrops for each of the reservoirs, attracting hikers, campers, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts year-round.
It's important to note that because most of these reservoirs are maintained for drinking water, swimming and wading are not allowed, nor are pets.
Rampart Reservoir Amenities
- Located in Pike National Forest
- Hidden coves
- Motorized boats permitted
- Recreation area
This extremely popular reservoir in Northwest Colorado Springs is located in Pike National Forest. The reservoir is 500 surface acres and is open from mid-May to late October, while the Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area is open year-round.
Rampart Reservoir features numerous "hidden" coves to explore, and its still waters are ideal for flat-water kayaks and canoes. Motorized boats are permitted, but creating wakes is not, so boats must be operated at very low power and speed. Rampart Reservoir is highly regarded as a great trout fishing and camping spot, but visitors should be aware that the parking lot fills up quickly on weekends, and campsites sell out most nights. There's a $7 day-use fee for the Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area, and it can be paid only with cash or check.
Nichols Reservoir Amenities
- Great for fishing
- Ice fishing during the winter
- Half-mile hike to the reservoir
Directly east of Rampart Reservoir is Nichols Reservoir, locally considered a favorite of anglers. Rainbow trout and Snake River cutthroat are plentiful here, particularly in the summer, but people can ice fish in the winter and spring as well. Bait fishing is also permitted.
The reservoir is serene, largely because it isn't accessible by vehicles. Visitors must park at the Dikeside Boat Ramp at neighboring Rampart Reservoir and hike in about half a mile to reach Nichols. Boating of any type is not allowed, which helps maintain the reservoir's tranquility. Camping is also not permitted anywhere along Nichols Reservoir.
Crystal Creek Reservoir
Crystal Creek Reservoir Amenities
- More than three miles of shoreline
- 136-acre reservoir
- Stocked with fish
- Boats allowed
One of three cold water reservoirs in Pikes Peak's North Slope Recreation Area, Crystal Creek Reservoir sits at 9,200 feet elevation. As people travel up Pikes Peak Highway, this is the first reservoir they will reach, which is adjacent to the visitor's center. Hours change seasonally, and the reservoir is generally open from May 1 through mid-to-late October, with longer hours in the summer.
Crystal Creek has 136 surface acres and 3.31 miles of shoreline. Stocked with an abundance of trout, including rainbow, brown, cutthroat, lake, cutbow, and brook, no gas-powered engines are permitted, and boats must be powered by paddles, oars, or an electric engine. Because trailers aren't allowed on Pikes Peak Highway, boats must fit on the top of vehicles and be easily carried to the water.
North Catamount & South Catamount Reservoirs
North Catamount & South Catamount Reservoirs Amenities
- Located near Crystal Creek Reservoir
- Nearly four miles of shoreline
- Recreation area
- Good for trout fishing
- Paddle boats allowed
These two reservoirs comprise the others in the North Slope Recreation Area and are located just past Crystal Creek Reservoir. South Catamount is the smallest of the three reservoirs with 120 surface acres and 3.96 miles of shoreline, while North Catamount is the largest, with 210 surface acres and 6.58 miles of shoreline.
Like Crystal Reservoir, North and South Catamount are known for being excellent for trout fishing. However, the more secluded North Catamount is reserved exclusively for fly-fishing, as only artificial lures and flies are permitted. Bait, except minnows, is allowed in South Catamount. Because the Catamount reservoirs are also accessed via the Pikes Peak Highway, only boats that fit on a vehicle top are permitted, and no gas-powered engines are allowed.
Pikeview Reservoir Amenities
- Shore and dockside fishing
- Near Garden of the Gods
- Warm water reservoir
When someone doesn't have enough time to head up into the mountains for the weekend or even the day, Pikeview Reservoir offers an excellent alternative. Located within Colorado Springs proper just off Garden of the Gods Road, Pikeview is a local favorite for anglers. Both shore and dockside fishing is available, and the most common species caught are rainbow trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and saugeye. Pikeview is a warmer water reservoir, and it is open from when the ice melts in the spring to when the water freezes in the fall, typically from mid-May to mid-October.
Rosemont Reservoir Amenities
- Fly fishing only
- Great for trout fishing
- Only fishing is allowed
Officially named Penrose Rosemont Reservoir, this is perhaps the most remote reservoir on this list. Rosemont Reservoir is just over 12 miles outside of Colorado Springs near Manitou Springs, and once visitors arrive, they have to park and walk about half a mile to the shoreline. Rosemont Reservoir is restricted to fly-fishing and using only artificial flies and lures, and no boats are allowed on the water. Night fishing and ice fishing are also not permitted.
Locals who frequent Rosemont Reservoir say it's a hidden gem that visitors will likely have to themselves, allowing people to feel like they're worlds away from the city. Rainbow, cutthroat, and lake trout are particularly plentiful in Rosemont.
Visit These Lakes and Reservoirs in Colorado Springs Today
There are numerous ways to take advantage of Colorado Springs' many opportunities for outdoor water recreation. Being out on the lakes is just one of them! Discover the endless opportunities for outdoor fun today with a visit to one of these locations.
If you're inspired by the opportunities in Colorado Springs, contact The Military Home Search Team of eXp Realty at (719) 338-7294 to get in touch with a local real estate agent and find the ideal Colorado Springs home for you today.