What you need to know if camping, boating on Larimer County lands


Memorial Day weekend in Colorado can be hit or miss weather-wise, but after a spring of mostly misses the weekend’s weather is shaping up nicely.

The forecast calls for highs in the 60s in the mountains and 70s and 80s for the Fort Collins area with a slight chance of thunderstorms Sunday afternoon. Of course, conditions can change quickly.

Here’s a glance of what you need to know before heading out for the unofficial start of summer.

Camping/hiking in Larimer County

Pickings will be slim if you’re trying to get a reservation at this late date, but some campgrounds offer first-come, first-served sites.

Larimer County

Horsetooth Reservoir, Carter Lake, Hermit Park, Flatiron and Pinewood sites are completely booked Friday and Saturday nights, according to the county’s reservation website.

The daily entrance fee is $10 per vehicle and $20 for a vehicle and boat trailer at Carter Lake, Flatiron, Pinewood and Horsetooth reservoirs. An annual resident pass runs $100.

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The daily entrance fee is $10 at Horsetooth Mountain, Blue Sky Trail, Hermit Park, Ramsay-Shockey Open Space and — new this year — Devil’s Backbone Open Space.

New this year at Carter Lake is the Sky View Campground along Larimer County Road 31. The site, which is booked Friday and Saturday, opened May 12 and is the first campground in Larimer County catering to large groups.

The $1.9 million campground has 15 campsites divided among three pods, accommodating up to 120 people. The design caters to groups looking to camp together for reunions, special occasions and other events.

Colorado Airstream Club members and Fort Collins residents Janie Arndt, from left, Rod Arndt, Karen Warren and Lon Miller relax by the Arndt's Airstream trailer on May 11 at the new Sky View Campground at Carter Lake west of Loveland, Colorado. Members of the Colorado Airstream Club helped christen the Sky View Campground with a soft opening before its May 20 opening to the public.

For other fee details, visit larimer.org/naturalresources/parks/permits.

As of Monday, there are no county fire restrictions in effect in Larimer County.

For more information, visit larimer.org/naturalresources/parks.

Roosevelt National Forest

These campgrounds in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District west of Fort Collins are open and camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis: Aspen Glen, Big South, Dutch George, Kelly Flats and Tom Bennett.

All other campgrounds with reservable sites are booked Friday and Saturday nights or are not yet open for the season.

For more camping information, visit fs.usda.gov/activity/arp/recreation/camping-cabins/.

There are no fire restrictions on the Roosevelt National Forest as of Monday afternoon.

Most roads on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District close seasonally Dec. 1 and begin to reopen mid-June if conditions allow. Western areas of the district received a foot or more of snow last week, which means additional trails and roads may be closed.

For updated information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/arp.

Boyd Lake State Park

There are no reservations available Friday or Saturday night at the state park in northeast Loveland.

For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/boydlake.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Glacier Basin and Moraine Park campgrounds are open by reservation. The Aspenglen and Timber Creek campgrounds are closed.

As of Monday, there were sites available at Glacier Basin and Moraine Park on Friday but not Saturday.

For camping information, visit nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/camping.htm.

The park once again has instituted its timed-entry permit reservation system. Park visitors who have reservations to camp at Moraine Park and Glacier Basin will have access to the Bear Lake Road corridor and the rest of park.

For park information, including road and trail conditions, visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/.

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Some boating options might be limited due to staffing shortages.

Larimer County

Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake are 95% full. Horsetooth’s water temperature at the surface is 54 degrees and Carter Lake’s 43 degrees, so be mindful of the cold.

Horsetooth Reservoir’s South Bay and Inlet Bay boat ramp are open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The Satanka ramp is closed until staffing availability allows for extended hours.

Carter Lake’s North Pines ramp is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The South Shore ramp is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday only. The North ramp (marina) is closed until staffing availability allows for extended hours.

Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake require mandatory vessel inspections for aquatic nuisance species. With no inspectors onsite at Pinewood Reservoir, the boat ramp is closed and no trailered or motorized watercraft may be launched there.

The daily entrance fee is $10 per vehicle and $20 for a vehicle and boat trailer at these sites. An annual resident fee is $100.

For more boating information, visit larimer.org/naturalresources/parks/boating.

Boyd Lake State Park

The water temperature here is 54 degrees.

The main boat ramp at the marina is open but the Heron Cove boat ramp, ADA fishing pier and swim beach are closed.

Boyd Lake requires vessel inspections for aquatic nuisance species from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The daily vehicle pass is $10, while an annual pass affixed is $80 or $120 for a hang tag.

For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/boydlake.

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What to know before you go outdoors

Here are tips to make your outing safe and enjoyable

  • Anticipate what you will need for your activity and know your limits.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for cold, wet or changing weather conditions.
  • Look at the weather forecast and trail information for your specific destination before you head out.
  • Tell people where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Make sure your cellphone is fully charged, just in case it can assist if you get lost.
  • Know if dogs are allowed on the public land and trails you will be going on.
  • Know how to handle wildlife encounters.
  • Parking lots on weekends, especially holiday weekends, are usually full. Look to see if the site you wish to visit has a webcam of the lot. If full, have an alternative destination planned.
  • Stay on the trail if designated and walk through mud to avoid widening the trail and damaging resources.
  • Be careful with fire.
  • Check road and trail conditions before you go as some areas still can have snow this time of year.

Source: Various local land agencies

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today. 


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