Mountain Town Lakes to Cool Off In Steamboat Springs
Take a hike and jump in, Colorado’s mountain west is dotted with lakes and reservoirs you can cool off in. Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area is home to a concentration of cool creeks, rivers and lovely, warm hot springs. The area lakes are popular destinations in the summertime. We have a list of recommendations in Steamboat’s high mountain lakes and reservoirs.
Before you dive in we have a PSA on ‘Kindness Floats the Boat’ to consider during your visit:
Kindness Floats the Boat shares ways to better appreciate the area and all who enjoy it. Visiting Steamboat’s spectacular lakes at off-peak times and taking personal responsibility for your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of the lakes, the land, fellow visitors and resident wildlife, helps float all boats – from small canoes, Standup Paddle Boards to fancy speedboats. Show how kindness floats your boat in Steamboat at #KindnessFloatsTheBoat while making the most of visiting these lovely lakes, below.
Location – Hike-to lake in the Zirkel Wilderness accessible from Slavonia trailhead; approx. 9-mile roundtrip hike (intermediate to difficult)
Size – 18.4 acres
Best for – Views; wildflowers; water crossings
When to go – Due to snow, the trail doesn’t become fully accessible until July. Go early in the day and enjoy a nice picnic lunch at the lake.
‘Float the Boat’ – Be Altitude Aware: know the signs of altitude sickness; pack plenty of water.
Gold Creek Lake
Location – Hike-to lake in the Zirkel Wilderness accessible from Slavonia trailhead; approx. 6.5-mile out-and-back hike (intermediate)
Size – 7.7 acres
Best for – Birdwatching
When to go – The best time to visit the lake is April through September. The hike out and back takes approx. half a day; allow plenty of time.
Hahn’s Peak Lake
Location – 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs near Hahn’s Peak
Size – 160 acres
Best For – Stargazing; it’s extremely dark at night
When to go – The lake opens for the season in late June. We recommend booking a campground anytime from July through September.
‘Float the Boat’ – Keep Wildlife Wild: keep your distance; pack up food and trash; keep pets on-leash; give animals the right-of-way.
Location – Hike-to lake in the Zirkel Wilderness accessible from Slavonia trailhead; approx. 8.2-mile roundtrip hike (difficult)
Size – 5.5 acres
Best for – Camping; climbing nearby peaks
When to go – The best time to visit the trail is June through September. The hike out and back is long, so start early to allow time for sightseeing. The route includes some very tough inclines and some extreme elevation gain.
‘Float the Boat’ – Respect the Yampa Valley: understand trail and water etiquette.
Location – 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs at the base of Farwell Mountain
Size – 167 acres
Best for – Standup paddleboarding; peaceful and serene thanks to no-motor rule
When to go – Yurts are available for rent year-round and offer a unique ‘camping’ experience. Campgrounds are open May – October, conditions permitting. Stay a few days to truly relax.
‘Float the Boat’ – Be Wildfire Aware: research local restrictions to keep the forest safe.
Location – 23 miles south of Steamboat Springs
Size – 820 acres
Best for – Fishing; record-sized pike are caught here every year
When to go – A great lake to visit year-round. Book a camping spot and explore the many outdoor activities in the surrounding area. Day-trippers should go earlier in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
‘Float the Boat’ – Spread Kindness: the lake can get busy; practice patience, smile and say hello.
Location – 27 miles north of Steamboat Springs at the base of Hahn’s Peak in Steamboat Lake State Park
Size – 1,101 acres
Best for – Boating; bring your own or rent at the full-service marina
When to go – This lake has something for everyone. Camping is available year-round; reservations are needed in advance for Memorial Day through the end of September. Head out early and plan to spend a full day taking in the sites and activities.
‘Float the Boat’ – Leave No Trace: leave the area as you found it (or better!).
Three Island Lake
Location – Hike-to lake in the Zirkel Wilderness accessible from Three Island trailhead; approx. 6.2-mile out-and-back hike (intermediate)
Size – 23.2 acres
Best For – Solitude
When to go – Best time to visit the lake is June through September. Start early to allow plenty of time to take in the scenery, including wildflowers and bird watching.
‘Float the Boat’ – Know Before You Go: research your adventure thoroughly before you depart.
Enjoy and remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles too: www.mtntownmagazine.com/the-leave-no-trace-seven-principles-love-your-mother
Featured Photo: Noah Wetzel
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