Dream Lake iced over - RMNP

Carter Lake Conditions

Park elevation: 5760'
Report last updated: 8/21/2016

Current Conditions

photo from park
A view of Carter Knolls campground from the Carter Lake swim beach.
Park situation

Hertha Ridge Fire: As of 1:30 pm on Friday 8/19, the fire was reported to be 100% contained and controlled per Larimer County Sheriff's Office. Crews will continue to monitor for flare-ups throughout the day. Air quality and visibility in the area is good.

For more updates on the air quality in the area visit www.colorado.gov/airquality/advisory.aspx.



  • Fuel Stoves and grills OK - NO CHARCOAL

  • No open flames outside of metal grates - NO tiki torches

  • No smoking outside unless on established roads and parking areas


  • HUNTING is not allowed at Carter Lake
  • The shower house in the Eagle day use parking area 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.


Fishing Regulations

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 Temperature: 69.7 degrees Fahrenheit

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 1st 2016
North ramp: 6am - 10pm 7 days a week
South Shore ramp: 6am - 10pm 7 days a week
North Pines ramp: 6am - 10pm Wednesday - Sunday 



Water elevation

Carter Lake Marina Store is now open daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm.


All campgrounds are open.

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:

Saturday- Thursday 8:00am - 6:00pm

Friday 8:00am- 8:00pm

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 www.larimercamping.com.

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


A fox has been frequently visiting the marina parking lot in the early hours of the morning. You can find a family of wild turkeys waddling through North Pines and Eagle campgrounds. There has been recent bear activity in North Pines and South Shore campgrounds. Please make sure you lock up food in hard-shelled containers. Also, please don't overfill dumpsters. Mule deer are most active in the early morning and early evening. Wildlife commonly grazes near the roadway and can be difficult to see, especially at night. Keep in mind, we want to keep the wildlife wild. Do NOT leave food out or otherwise feed the wildlife.

Park events

A complete list of upcoming events can be found at http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources/news.cfm.

See the Parks and Open Lands event calendar.
Background Image: Dream Lake frozen over in Rocky Mountain National Park by Bryce Bradford. All rights reserved.