Mountain Town Lakes – Steamboat Springs

Gilpin Lake Steamboat Springs Colorado

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.

Gilpin Lake

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. 

‘Float the Boat’ – Take Care: dress in layers, use sunscreen and pick up a free reusable water bottle from the Steamboat Springs Visitors Center

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.

Mica Lake

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.

Pearl Lake

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.

Stagecoach Reservoir

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.

Steamboat Lake

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:


Featured Photo: Noah Wetzel

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