Official - Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area

Located at 1795 C.R. 210, Durango, Colorado - (970) 375-7335 

Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area is now closed for the winter season 

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 water fowl. As data collected during the winter bird count shows, Lake Nighthorse provides habitat for many birds, ducks, and geese. Click here to read the article "Lake Nighthorse changing the game for annual bird count."

The winter seasonal closure period begins every year on November 15. The lake will re-open for the 2021 season on Friday, April 2.
winter closure photo collage

2021 Season and 5-Punch Passes make great holiday gifts! 

Contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (970) 375-7321 to purchase.

  1. Hours of Operation
  2. Entrance Passes
  3. Activities/ Programs
  4. Swim Beach
  5. Fishing Facts
  6. Boating Rules
  7. Historic Documents

Lake Nighthorse Recreation Schedule

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
  • July 1st - September 13: Open Daily from 7am - 7pm  
  • September 14 - September 30: Open Daily from 8am - 6pm
  • October 1 - October 31: Open Daily from 9am - 4pm
  • November 1 - November 14: Open Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays ONLY from 9am-4pm
  • November 15: Closed for Winter Season
  • 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)

Entrance Sign image