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Official - Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area

Winter at Lake Nighthorse

Winter cloud reflection on water at Lake Nighthorse

Season closure - serenity on the water at Lake Nighthorse

Winter beauty at Lake Nighthorse with snow covered mountains and icy lake

Cold calm water and snow covered mountains at Lake Nighthorse

Majestic winter beauty of Lake Nighthorse with blue sky white clouds and still water

1795 C.R. 210, Durango, Colorado - (970) 375-7335 - Lake Nighthorse Live Cam

Lake Nighthorse is closed for the winter season until April 12, 2024 

This federally required seasonal closure is to protect critical winter wildlife habitat at Lake Nighthorse. By closing Lake Nighthorse to recreation during winter months, deer and elk that migrate to these lower elevations in winter do not have to actively move - burning stored fat as calories - to avoid humans. There is very little nutrition available to these wildlife during the winter months when plants are dormant, even if there is no snow, so they must conserve stored body fat until new plant growth occurs in the spring. Not only deer and elk benefit from this seasonal closure but also waterfowl. The annual winter bird count at Lake Nighthorse continues to indicate how valuable this winter habitat is for Southwest Colorado. The Durango Christmas Bird Count from last year had the highest number of species in the history of this bird count. Lake Nighthorse was a major factor.

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2024 Lake Nighthorse Hours of Operation

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.  

During daily operations, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday open to 10 a.m. are quiet & wakeless hours, including holidays.

  • April 12 – May 5:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Non-Motorized Recreation ONLY
  • May 10 – 31: Open Daily; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Motorized Recreation Begins May 15
  • June 1 – September 2*:  7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Daily; Guarded Swim Beach June 1 - September 2
  • September 3 - September 30: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Daily
  • October 1 – 13:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily 
  • October 18 – November 10:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • November 11:  Winter Wildlife Closure begins

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)

Lake Nighthorse Entrance Passes

2024 Park Entrance Pass Options

  • Day Pass Vehicle Entrance  $10
  • Day Pass Walk/Bike Entrance  $5
  • Season Pass Vehicle:
    • 1st for Household  $80
    • Multiple Vehicle (Same Household)  $40
  • Season Pass Vehicle Senior *:
    • 1st for Household  $70
    • Multiple Vehicle Senior (Same Household)  $35
  • Season Pass Walk/Bike  $25
  • 5-Punch Pass Vehicle  $40
  • 5-Punch Pass Vehicle Senior *  $30
  • 5-Punch Pass Walk/Bike  $15
  • Commercial Vehicle / School Bus Day Pass $25 

  • Commercial Vehicle / School Bus 5-Punch Pass $100

 Senior is 62 years and over


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