Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Carter Lake Conditions

Park elevation: 5760'
Report last updated: 7/22/2017

Current Conditions

photo from park
Foggy Morning at Carter Lake. Photo by Ranger A. Louie
Park situation

HUNTING is not allowed at Carter Lake  

Swim Beach is now open!

Rangers no longer sell annual passes, day passes, or any other permit, including camping permits. Daily entrance permits are available for purchase at the automated pay stations on south CR 31 and west CR 8E, near the entrance station gates. The automated pay stations accept credit and debit cards only. Cash or checks will no longer be accepted at the self-service automated pay stations.

Current water temperature: 73.5°




Fishing Regulations

Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocked approximately 4,700 raibow trout at the Carter Lake south shore on 6/23/17

For trout gold colored spinners and rooster tails have brought in fish. Cowbell rigs with worms have caught several large fish near the north ramp as well as Dam 1. The daily bag limit on trout is 4. There is no size limit.

Boat fishing: Trout have been schooling near the dams. There is no fishing on or within 100 feet of the dams, but if you troll outside the 100 feet and cast into the dam area, you may have some luck.

For walleye,  The Saddle at the southeast end of the reservoir and "Green Cove" near the north end of the Sundance trail both have steep shoreline and deeper water. The walleye like to hang out on the underwater ledges in these areas. They tend to be more active in the early morning and early evening. Large walleye have been caught recently. Worms on cowbell rigs and bottom bouncers have recently caught fish. Jigging plastic worms or night crawlers have been successful from shore as well as boats along the entire western shoreline. The daily bag limit on walleye is 3. Walleye must be less than 21" or else immediately returned to the water.

Bass fishing has slowed down with dropping water levels. Fish can still be caught caught along with the west and south shores with soft plastic jigs, jerk baits, and popper lures. Daily bag limit is 5 fish of any length.

For more current conditions and stocking reports, check with the Division of Wildlife.


Water level and boat ramps

Water Level:


Boating Access Hours

Before traveling to one of our reservoirs, always check here first for the most current information.

We are required to inspect every vessel entering Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir for aquatic nuisance species. That requires specific hours of operation for boating. No boat launching is permitted outside of these hours; however, boats already on the reservoirs may continue operation.

Carter Lake Boat Ramp Hours:

May - October, 2017:

North Ramp: 6am to 10pm, 7 days a week

South Shore: 6am to 10 pm, 7 days a week

North Pines: 6am to 10pm, Wednesday through Sunday, Closed Monday and Tuesday

Water elevation

Water Temperature: 73.5°F


Open for the season. 


All campgrounds are open for the season. 

Attention campers: If you do not have a reservation for a campsite, you will need to visit the Larimer County administrative office at 1800 South County Road 31 to purchase your campsite during the following hours:

Monday- Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm

Saturday- Sunday 10:00am- 4:00pm

Weekends are still filling up so reserve early!

Camping fees will no longer be accepted at your campsite. A reservation for camping is highly recommended. You may now reserve a campsite one day in advance. To reserve a campsite, call (800) 397-7795 or visit

Camping reservations may now be made from 1-180 days in advance.


Many of our local elk and deer have begun the frequent the Carter Lake area. Please be aware and exercise caution when approaching and driving through the area this season.

No Hunting nor collecting of antlers allowed in Larimer County Parks

Park events

A complete list of upcoming events can be found at

See the Parks and Open Lands event calendar.
Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.