Monarch Lake, Colorado

A human-made alpine reservoir in Granby, Monarch Lake is just outside the northwestern boundary of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The area boasts some of the most picturesque scenery in Colorado — glistening waters surrounded by towering Rocky Mountain summits and summer wildflowers. Swim, paddle a kayak or simply relax and watch the small waves by the shore. Trek along the 4-mile Monarch Lake Loop to spot deer, moose and a variety of native bird species along the easy, tree-lined trail.

Monarch Lake sits at 8,340 feet in elevation; the surface area covers 140 acres, and the lake reaches a maximum depth of approximately 15 feet.

To visit Monarch Lake, you must purchase an Arapaho National Recreation Area Pass online or at the in-person fee station.

Monarch Lake Trails

The most popular hike along the reservoir is the Monarch Lake Loop, which covers the entire perimeter of the reservoir, weaving through shady forests and across cool creeks. It’s leashed-dog friendly, 4-miles long and low impact, making it the perfect afternoon trek. From the Monarch Lake Trailhead, you can also park and access the Cascade Creek Trail to Cascade Falls, Crater Lake or Pawnee Pass. Or traverse the Arapaho Pass Trail to connect with the High Lonesome Trail where you can backpack to Junco Lake and Devils Thumb Park. Check out the maps at the trailhead to pick the perfect path for your adventure.

Grand County Hiking


Monarch Lake welcomes non-motorized boating with kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and stand-up paddleboards. That means it’s an especially peaceful place for water activities like wake-free swimming and tube floating. Non-motorized boats do not require registration or a Colorado Aquatic Nuisance Species Stamp, but do ensure your watercraft is clean and dry before launching to avoid invasive-species introduction.

Grand County Boating


Anglers love dropping a line in the tranquil waters of Monarch Lake — and most are met with great catches. In fact, a local angler broke a 75-year-held Colorado record for the largest brook trout at Monarch. Paddle out to spend a sunny day on a canoe or simply cast from the shoreline to snag some bows, browns and brookies. Regardless of what you’re able to reel in, the soaring mountain views and waving yellow blooms along the water’s edge make it worth the visit.

Grand County Fishing


While there are no dedicated campgrounds on Monarch Lake’s shoreline, you can find waterfront campsites nearby on Lake Granby. The closest site to Monarch Lake is Arapaho Bay Campground — which is also near popular hikes like the Roaring Fork Trail and backcountry camping spots in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Grand County Camping

Follow the “rule of thumb”. If you can cover the animal with your thumb, you're at a safe distance. Store food, trash and scented items in bear-proof containers to avoid unwanted interactions.
Stay on designated trails, even in less-than-ideal conditions. It protects wildlife, prevents erosion and ensures you remain on the safest terrain. If you're camping, choose a designated campsite.
Ensure campfires are permitted in your area. Once lit, keep them small and monitored, and extinguish fully when finished. Be careful when smoking, discarded butts are common causes of wildfires.
Always pack out your trash, including peels and cores. No restroom? Be ready with a disposable WAG bag or bury your business 8 inches deep, at least 70 steps from all water sources and trails.
Never take plants, rocks or cultural items you find while exploring. Keep gear clean to prevent the spread of invasive species and preserve the landscape. Even minor damage can have a lasting impact.
Respect fellow adventurers in Grand County. Be mindful of noise and yield to uphill hikers and bikers who need the momentum. Always give priority to wheelchair users and equestrians on the trail.
Grand County weather is as varied as our activity options. Be prepared with warm layers, sun protection and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Explore lesser-traveled sites to avoid the crowds.
Colorado Lakes and Rivers

Learn all about Grand County's stunning alpine lakes and rushing rivers so you can get out on the water.

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