Carter Lake

Quick Facts

Carter Lake


(970) 679-4570

Map Directions

Things To Do


Carter Lake is located in the foothills west of Loveland at an elevation of 5,760 feet. It is a part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The purpose of this water project is to divert water from the west slope to the east slope for drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower generation. The Bureau of Reclamation is solely responsible for power generation. The agencies jointly manage water levels for irrigation, municipal, and industry use.

Recreation is managed by Larimer County Natural Resources. Three miles long and about one mile wide, Carter Lake is a 1,100-acre reservoir surrounded by 1,000 acres of public lands and is popular for fishing, sailing, camping, swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing, and water skiing. The reservoir is open year-round for visitors to enjoy the many opportunities it provides.

Map of Carter Lake

Latitude, Longitude: 40.332151, -105.211945



  • Boating

    Boating is a favorite activity for visitors on Carter Lake. Popular sports include water skiing, jet skiing an sailing. Canoe and kayak rentals are available from Carter Lake Canoe and Kayak Rental.

  • Camping

    Most weekends (Fridays through Sundays) from Memorial Day through Labor Day, campsites are full and reserved systemwide, except at Hermit Park Open Space. Sites that are not reserved become available that day as first-come, first-served for people who are physically present at the parks.

  • Fishing

    Year-round opportunities exist at Carter Lake to catch trout from shore or boat - rainbow, cutthroat, splake, occasional brown trout, walleye and yellow perch. Kokanee salmon are easily caught during the snagging season, October through December.

  • Hiking

    The Sunance Trail and Fawn Hollow Trail are open and difficulty ranges from easy to moderate.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic areas are available at the campground.

  • RVing

    Opportunities are available.

  • Water Sports

    Popular sports on the lake for visitors are water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, scuba diving and swimming.

Park Partners

Carter Lake Canoe and Kayak Rental



From Denver: 1.Take I-25 North to the Berthoud Exit (Exit 250). 2.Turn left (west) onto Highway 56 and continue for 9 1/2 miles. (You will pass through the town of Berthoud.) 3.Watch for the Carter Lake road sign after a sharp curve to the north (right). 4.Turn left (west) onto County Road 8E and continue for 3 miles. 5.Stop at the entrance station to purchase Park Entrance Permits, Follow County Road 8E west to the intersection about halfway up the hill. A sign will direct you to continue straight to the South Shore Campground or to turn right to Carter Knolls Campground, the swim beach, Big Thompson Campground, Carter Lake Marina, Eagle Campground, Lowell's Campground and North Pines Campground. The Bison Visitor Center is located about 2 miles north of Carter Lake at 1800 South County Road 31.

From Longmont or Boulder: 1.Take U.S. Highway 287 north to County Road 56 west of Berthoud. 2.Turn left (west) onto County Road 56. Follow direction from # 3 above

From Loveland: 1.Drive west of Loveland on U.S. Highway 34 to mile marker #85. Watch for the "Carter Lake" sign. 2.Turn left (south) onto County Road 29. Go 2 miles and turn right (west) onto County Road 18E. Go west another 2 miles. Watch for the park signs. 3.At County Road 31 turn left and stop to purchase park entrance permits at the entrance station on your right or at The Bison Visitor Center. Continue south on County Road 31 another 2 miles to Carter Lake, campgrounds, marina, and swim beach. From Fort Collins: 1.Take Taft Hill Road south from Fort Collins to U.S. Highway 34 (Eisenhower) in Loveland and turn right (west). Follow directions from Loveland above.

Phone Numbers


(970) 679-4570