Is there anything better in summertime than boating on a mountain lake? If you ask us, the answer is "no, not really." Around here, it is the thing to do come May, June, July, August and September. While Colorado has dozens of great reservoirs and lakes to set sail on, few destinations offer so many choices in one place.
To help you navigate our five mountain lakes, we've compiled a guide to boating them, complete with what makes each lake so unique, and the best way to enjoy each one.
What makes it special: Colorado's largest natural lake also competes for Colorado's prettiest. With the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park serving as a backdrop — and regular moose sightings in the shallows — Grand Lake is a wonderful place to set sail on a summer's afternoon. As an added bonus, the charming town of Grand Lake resides on its northern shore and provides ample dining, shopping and local character.
Best way to enjoy it: Embrace the solitude of Grand Lake from a sailboat or a lake kayak. At dusk, the peaks that adorn the eastern horizon often catch the sunsets golden rays, creating a beautiful spectacle.
What makes it special: Often overlooked by its neighbors to the north and south — Grand Lake and Lake Granby — Shadow Mountain Lake is a beautiful hidden gem with easy access off of Highway 34 as well as from Grand Lake. Since Shadow Mountain Lake is connected to Grand Lake, you can enjoy both bodies of water from the same boat.
Best way to enjoy it: Start your day early in the morning with a spin around the lake's uninhabited western shore. You can also camp on the lake shore at Green Ridge Campground near the dam.
What makes it special: At 7,000 acres, Lake Granby is one of Colorado's largest bodies of water. Its numerous coves and marinas make it a justly popular place for sailers, boaters and jet-skiers. For fisherman, the lake's appeal lies in what lurks in the deep — lake trout. Known as one of the best "mackinaw" fisheries in the country, the reservoir also harbors a healthy population of kokanee salmon.
Best way to enjoy it: While Lake Granby offers a wide array of camping and home rental options nearby, it is best enjoyed with a pontoon boat. Rent one from one of the lake's marinas, and enjoy the company of friends on this scenic lake.
What makes it special: Located well off the beaten path, Williams Fork Reservoir appeals to those looking for some peace and quiet, and a lot of hungry fish. Deep in the reservoirs waters lurk several trophy sized northern pike. (Please note that the lake's boat ramps don't accommodate all motorboats. See the official William's Fork Reservoir website for more information.)
Best way to enjoy it: Due to its exposure and location between several distant mountain ranges, Williams Fork Reservoir gets a lot of wind — much to the delight of windsurfers. Because of the chilly snowmelt-fed waters, a wetsuit is not just recommended; its virtually required.
What makes it special: Located in the northern section of Middle Park just beyond Kremmling on Highway 40, Wolford Mountain Reservoir offers a stark beauty that is unique to Colorado. Windswept mountain plains and sage-dotted land surround its shores. Out on the water, boaters can enjoy fishing for rainbow and brown trout, as well as kokanee salmon.
Best way to enjoy it: With its beautiful location and gorgeous views of the nearby Gore Range, Wolford Mountain Reservoir offers sublime camping.