Official - Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area
Located at 1795 C.R. 210, Durango, Colorado - (970) 375-7335
Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area is now open for daily operations with modified hours and recreation operations due to COVID-19. To ensure the safety of lake staff and the public, it’s requested visitors maintain social distancing of six feet apart, wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible, and bring a personal supply of hand sanitizer. Visitors also should not gather in groups of ten or more.
Season passes and 5-punch passes are available for purchase online and day passes may be purchased by credit card or exact cash at the entrance station.
June 1 - June 30 daily operations will be from 8am-6pm. Mandatory watercraft inspections and decontamination operations will now include ballasted boats with no green seals. Please refer to the Boating Rules tab below for full information regarding boating at Lake Nighthorse. Lake Nighthorse restrictions do not allow jet skis, above-water exhaust, or boats with plumbed toilets and sinks at any time.
Hours of operation are subject to change and will be updated monthly on this website and at Lake Nighthorse. You may also call the Lake Nighthorse entrance station at (970) 375-7335.
- Hours of Operation
- Entrance Passes
- Activities/ Programs
- Calendar of Events
- Fishing Facts
- Boating Rules
- Historic Documents
Lake Nighthorse Recreation Schedule - When the Facility Reopens
30 minutes prior to daily closure, the entrance gate will be closed to access, and boat exit inspections as well as watercraft launches will cease. Hours of operation may vary depending on inclement weather.
Mondays and Wednesdays are NO WAKE days (Except Holidays)
The 2020 hours of operation:
- Friday May 22nd - Sunday May 31st: Open Daily from 9am – 4pm
- June 1st - June 30th: Open Daily from 8am-6pm
- Hours of operation are subject to change and will be updated monthly on this website and at Lake Nighthorse. You may also call the Lake Nighthorse entrance station at (970) 375-7335.
Lake Nighthorse Operations
To ensure quality recreational experiences at Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area, here is a list of City of Durango and Bureau of Reclamation rules and regulations: Lake Nighthorse Recreational Operations (PDF)
In order to ensure safe operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic, season and 5-punch passes are available online.
Upon arrival at the lake following your online purchase, you will receive the 2020 Season Pass decal at the entrance booth.
5-punch passes are no longer physical punch cards. Simply purchase your 5-punch pass online in advance of arriving at the lake, then state your name at the entrance booth window and lake staff will electronically deduct a punch from your electronic punch pass.
Day passes may be purchased upon arrival at the lake by credit card, check, or exact cash amount.
Park Entrance Pass Options
- Day Pass Vehicle Entrance $8
- Day Pass Walk/Bike Entrance $3
- Day Pass Commercial Vehicle $20 (NEW!)
- Season Pass Vehicle:
- 1st for Household $70
- Multiple Vehicle (Same Household) $35
- Season Pass Vehicle Senior *:
- 1st for Household $60
- Multiple Vehicle Senior (Same Household) $30
- Season Pass Walk/Bike $20
- 5-Punch Pass Vehicle $30
- 5-Punch Pass Vehicle Senior * $25
- 5-Punch Pass Walk/Bike $10
* Senior is 62 years and over
Activities and Programs offered at Lake Nighthorse
The City of Durango partners with local businesses & organizations to offer recreational opportunities at Lake Nighthorse. Check back throughout the season to learn of new activities & programs.
- 4Corners Riversports offers onsite SUP, kayak, and canoe rentals as well as paddling lessons and SUP yoga classes. Click here for full details or for information about on site rentals, visit 4CRS website: riversports.com.
- Peaks & Tides offers sailing classes and clinics for all ages as well as private sailing charters. Click here for full details.
- Duranglers offers private guided fly fishing trips. Click here for full details or for more information, visit Duranglers website: duranglers.com.
- Adaptive Sports Association offers adaptive canoe, kayak, and paddle board adventures with programs designed to meet the needs of participants with a wide range of physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Click here for full details.
- Colorado Outback Adventures offers leisure boat rides or water sports sessions for your choice of wake boarding, wake surfing or water skiing. Click here for full details or for more information, visit Colorado Outback Adventure website: coloradooutbackadventures.com.
- Durango Adventure Therapy offers healing and awareness through water and art therapy at Lake Nighthorse. "Adventure" therapy sessions are tailored to match participant(s) needs. Click here for full details.
Why is Lake Nighthorse closed for the winter? The winter seasonal closure of Lake Nighthorse from November 15 through April 2 protects important wildlife habitat. Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area is located within critical winter habitat for elk and mule deer and being a new water body, it is becoming more important to bird species over time. Durango Bird Club volunteers conduct an annual Christmas Bird Count at Lake Nighthorse and they are seeing more diversity and bird activity that is unique to Durango and Southwest Colorado in general as a result of this new habitat. Click here to read more from the Durango Herald: Lake Nighthorse Changing the Game for Annual Bird Count.
All fishing at Lake Nighthorse requires a Colorado Parks and Wildlife fishing license for individuals 16 years of age and older. For information on where to purchase a fishing license, click here (Where to Buy Fishing Licenses PDF).
Please review the 2020 Colorado Parks and Wildlife Fishing Brochure prior to fishing at Lake Nighthorse: Fishing Brochure (PDF)
ADA fishing dock is located adjacent to the Boat Ramp Parking Lot.
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Kokanee Salmon have been stocked since 2011. Other species in the lake include White and Flannelmouth suckers, Fathead Minnows, Johnny Darters, and Crayfish. Fishing Regulations are:
- Bag limit is 4 trout per day and 8 in possession (no size limit restrictions).
- Anglers can use traditional baits (see Colorado Parks and Wildlife Fishing Brochure for definitions; e.g., no live bait allowed).
- Limit on Kokanee Salmon is 10 per day and 10 in possession. No snagging is allowed.
- No fishing where signs are posted.
- Please put fish entrails in the garbage, not the lake.
- Aquatic Nuisance Species Boat Inspections are mandatory at Lake Nighthorse.
Boat Inspections and Decontamination
In order to ensure safe operations at the Lake Nighthorse boat inspection station during the COVID-19 Pandemic, please remain in your vehicle until given instructions by the boat inspector. If asked to leave your vehicle, please remain 6 feet from the boat inspector, lake staff, and other lake patrons.
Bring a face covering and personal supply of hand sanitizer.
If you have an electric motor or a trailer of any kind, they must be inspected. Please remain in your vehicle until the boat inspector gives you instructions regarding this inspection process.
MANDATORY BOAT INSPECTIONS AT LAKE NIGHTHORSE: Lake Nighthorse will operate recreational use in compliance with the State of Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations for aquatic nuisance species boat inspections of all nonexempt watercraft. Please familiarize yourself with the Boater’s Guide to Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Inspections brochure prior to boating at Lake Nighthorse: Boater’s Guide (PDF)
Lake Nighthorse restrictions do not allow jet skis, above-water exhaust, or boats with plumbed toilets and sinks at any time.
IN ORDER TO RE-ENTER LAKE NIGHTHORSE, ALL MOTORIZED BOATS AND NON-EXEMPT WATERCRAFT ARE ENCOURAGED TO OBTAIN AN EXIT INSPECTION WHERE A GREEN SEAL AND RECEIPT WILL BE ISSUED.
Lake Nighthorse was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Animas La Plata (ALP) Project. The lake is full and the surface area is approximately 1,500 acres at maximum elevation and the reservoir area includes a total of approximately 5,500 acres. The reservoir site is two miles from downtown Durango and provides a significant recreational amenity to the area.
Public Meeting Information:
Public Meeting Summary:
- Bureau of Reclamation 2016 Environmental Assessment
- 2014 Lake Nighthorse Final Conceptual Recreation Master Plan (PDF)
- Lake Nighthorse Area Map (PDF)
- Lake Nighthorse Economic Impact of Recreation Use (PDF)
- Lake Nighthorse Recreation Market Assessment (PDF)
- 2011 Lake Nighthorse Draft Master Plan (PDF)
- Lake Nighthorse Public Presentation from June 18, 2014 (PDF)
For questions to the City of Durango Parks and Recreation Department regarding the current status of recreation at Lake Nighthorse, please email the Parks and Rec Department