Opening on Sunday, public access to Lake Nighthorse has long been awaited by residents of the Durango area and tourists alike. While the lake was first approved in 1968, water just started flowing into the reservoir in 2009. Since then, the City of Durango has worked with Native American tribes that own the water in the reservoir to create a plan for outdoor recreation. Want to plan a visit? Here’s what you need to know.

Lake Nighthorse Aerial Photo Courtesy City of Durango
Photo Courtesy: City of Durango.

1. Lake Nighthorse is big, with a surface area of 1,500 acres when it’s full. The entire space (including land) spans around 5,500 acres of space.

2. Lake Nighthorse is two miles from Durango.

3. The lake will only be open on the weekends until May 2018.

4. The water is cold, meaning you’ll probably want to have a wetsuit on if you’re getting in. While the historical record for surface temperature is around 75 degrees, water tends to stay under 50 degrees.

5. Motorboats will be allowed on the water May 15 to November 14, with two days of no-wakes each week during that period on Mondays and Wednesdays.

6. The lake will be closed from November 15 through the end of March for wildlife migrations.

7. Certain boats won’t be allowed, including jet skis, houseboats, and other open-air-exhaust watercraft.

8. Dogs are allowed around the lake, as long as they’re on a leash and don’t get in the water. Dogs are also allowed to be on boats. Establishing a spot for dogs to swim is on the table for future consideration.

9. Some things are prohibited, including alcohol, glass, fire, and drones.

10. It costs money to visit. It’s $8 per vehicle or $3 if you walk or bike in. Annual passes are also available.

While it might seem like Lake Nighthorse has a lot of rules, most of these rules are set up to protect the environment. Please follow them if you choose to visit and enjoy your time on Colorado’s newest water destination. For more information and updates on it’s current status, here’s a link to the official government page on this destination.

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