Complete Guide to Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO
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Horsetooth Reservoir is a terminal, off‐stream storage reservoir for the Colorado‐Big Thompson (C‐BT)
Project.  Horsetooth Reservoir serves as a resource for public water supply, agricultural water supply,
industrial water supply, and recreation.  The reservoir, located in Larimer County at the edge of the
foothills west of the City of Fort Collins, covers three canyons and was constructed between 1946 and
1949 with installation of four dams.  The reservoir is over six miles long, flowing roughly north‐
northwest along its axis.  It has a total capacity of 156,700 acre‐ft (AF), and a maximum water depth of
188 ft.  The Reservoir also has a number of distinct coves and bays on its south end and west side. source

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir Map Fort Collins

Horsetooth Reservoir Facts

  • Requires entrance and camping permits.
  • Open year round.
  • Is located west of Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Has an elevation of 5,420 feet.
  • 6.5 Miles long (from north to south).
  • 1,900 acres of public lands surrounding it.
  • Has a total capacity of 156,700 acre‐ft (AF).
  • Has a maximum water depth of 188 ft.
  • Was constructed between 1946 and 1949.
  • Has 4 dams.
  • You can fish on it.
  • You can go boating on it.
  • You can camp around it.
  • There are several picnic spots around it.
  • You can swim in it.
  • You can scuba dive in it.
  • There are several rock climbing locations around it.

Horsetooth Reservoir Regulations

  • Life preservers of the appropriate sizing are required for each person on a boat, and must be worn by children at all times. In addition, a Type IV throwable PFD is required on boats longer than 16 feet.
  • Boat travel direction – counter clockwise.
  • An observer (in addition to the driver) must be on the boat during water-skiing activity.
  • Swimming is prohibited except at swim beaches. Days & hours of operation may vary. Call 970-619-4570 for current hours.
  • Cliff diving or jumping in the water is extremely dangerous and prohibited in all areas.
  • Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Collection of firewood, including cutting of trees and branches, is not allowed.
  • Firearms or fireworks are prohibited.
  • Glass containers are not allowed.
  • Public consumption of alcohol above 3.2% is prohibited (no kegs allowed).
  • Dogs must be on leashes not longer than 10 feet at all times. Dogs are not allowed at the swim beach.
  • Due to Homeland Security restrictions, no recreation activity is allowed on dams or within 100 feet of dams when on land.
See Official Regulations

Boating Safety Information

General Regulations

  • Life jackets of the appropriate size are required for each person on a boat and must be worn by children under the age of 13 at all times. In addition, a Type IV throwable PFD (personal floatation device) is required on boats longer than 16 feet.
  • Boats must travel in a counter-clockwise direction on Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. This means the nearest shore is always on the right.
  • An observer (in addition to the driver), with an orange or red flag, must be on the boat when towing a person on water skis or any other device.

Additional Tips

  • Always boat responsibly, including boating sober and following navigational rules.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear layers in cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.
  • All operators and passengers of personal watercraft and those being towed on any device need to be wearing a life jacket at all times.
  • File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the trip.
  • Don’t exceed your boat’s capacity or the boat may become unstable and capsize.
  • Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out and keep a regular check for changing conditions.
  • Boats running on carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, produce carbon monoxide fumes. Beware of poisoning by carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting and chest pain.
  • Keep in touch with more than a cell phone. Satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), VHF radios and personal locator beacons can all contribute in an emergency situation.
  • Don’t panic if you fall into the water. Stay afloat with the help of your life jacket, regain control of your breathing and keep your head above water in vision of rescuers. Stay with the boat if possible.
  • Carry a life jacket with you on your float tube. While you are not required to wear a life jacket in a float tube, it’s always best to be as safe as possible.
Inspections & Boating Hours

Fishing Regulations

  • Walleye Daily limit – 5 total (no size restriction)
  • Smallmouth and Largemouth bass: Daily limit – 5 total (size minimum is 12 inches; all bass in possession must be over 12 inches)
  • All species of trout in Horsetooth (rainbow, cut-bow, brown): Statewide limit of 4 total per day (no size restriction)
  • White bass, striped bass, or wipers: Statewide limit of 10 total per day (no size restriction)
  • Panfish (including bluegill, white and black crappie, and all sunfish): Statewide limit of 20 total per day (no size restriction)

Camping Horsetooth Reservoir

Camping Horsetooth Reservoir

Services & Amenities

Boat Launch Ramp, Comfort Station, Drinking Water, Dump Station, Fishing, Horseshoes, Lake Parking, Swimming Beach, Picnic Shelter, Ranger Station, Restroom, Scuba Diving, Shelters, Showers, Volleyball, Skiing, Windsurfing, Sailboarding.



  • Non-electric Campsite: $15.00
  • Electric Campsite: $25.00
  • Full hookup Campsite: $30.00
  • Camper Cabin: $60.00
  • Boat In Campsite $20.00



  • Non-electric Campsites: $15.00
  • Electric Campsites: $15.00
  • Full hookup Campsites: $20.00
  • Camper Cabins: $30.00
  • Boat In Campsites: Closed
Book with Reserve America
Camping Spots on Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir: Cold

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Horsetooth Reservoir: Warm

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Rent an Adventure

If you’re wanting to get on the water but you’re not sure how to… rent a boat! It’s easy and there are several great suggestions to help you make the most out of your day on the water. All of the options available are by the hour which allows you to enjoy as much as you want, without the commitment. Here’s one suggestion to get you started.

Inlet Bay Marina

Inlet Bay Marina

From the provider: For the past twenty years we have been a family owned and operated marina. We are proud of the families that help make up the Inlet Bay Marina community. A place where friends meet.

Check Boat Rates



Horsetooth Reservoir Map

2 Comments on “Complete Guide to Horsetooth Reservoir

  1. Tom Pixley

    Sure miss boating in to the bar. Insane that there are no amenities on the lake for visitors.


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