The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project—one of the major diversions of water from the Western Slope to the Arkansas River Basin—not only ensured the growth of many Front Range cities, it also created Pueblo Reservoir, one of the most popular boating and swimming areas in Colorado, a rare body of water where – for a couple months in late summer anyway – the water doesn’t feel like recently melted snow. There’s also camping (400 sites), and due to the area’s mild climate, some great year-round mountain bike trails.
Just how warm is this reservoir compared to upstream environs? Even in the dead of winter, anglers line the Arkansas River below the dam’s outlet because the water comes out warm enough that it doesn’t ice over and supports a healthy fish population. The air temperature, on the other hand ….. well, dress warm.
- Swimming is only allowed in summer, Thursday through Monday. No, it’s not the ocean, but this is Colorado, so swim where you can when you can before it snows.
- Even with a whopping 400 campsites, the campgrounds fill on summer weekends so make reservations.
- Day passes are $7 per car. Don’t try to cheat. Park rangers will check.
Recommended season(s): Summer for boating and swimming, year-round for hiking, biking, camping and fishing
—R. Scott Rappold