Lake Nighthorse is open for recreation!

Want to know what this once private body of water is all about? The lake was opened to the public for the first time 2018. Named for former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Lake Nighthorse is conveniently located in the heart of Durango Colorado. This mountain reservoir offers visitors, both local and tourist alike, access to a wide variety of day use recreation. The 1,500 acre man-made lake is tucked into Ridges Basin and located just four miles southwest of the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum Museum in downtown Durango.

Whether you love to sail, or need speed for water skiing and wakeboarding at Lake Nighthorse we welcome watercraft of almost all kinds. If you don’t own your own watercraft, you can find local vendors lakeside to rent Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaks, and Canoes. You can also take sailing lessons or book pleasure cruises! There are some exceptions for watercrafts, though. The city doesn’t allow jet skis, houseboats or vessels with an open exhaust on the water. There are established no-wake zones, as well as specific no-wake days (Mondays and Wednesdays) to provide a better experience for a wider variety of individuals.

Lake Nighthorse is located on sacred tribal land. In order to protect priceless Native American artifacts as well as our environment, there are several rules and regulations to be mindful of. As with any outdoor environment, Leave no trace principals apply and proper disposal of all trash and waste is a must. Visitors are allowed to bring pets to Lake Nighthorse and explore the shoreline up to 25ft. above the high water line as well as established lots and roadways. Pets must be leashed and stay under owner supervision. Pets are allowed to swim off leash but must remain under owner supervision. Visitors must follow all city, state and federal rules and regulations.

Recreation at Lake Nighthorse is managed by the City of Durango. The reservoir is part of the Animas-La Plata Water Project, providing water storage for tribal and water right claim-holders along the Animas River. The Bureau of Reclamation began construction as part of the project in 2003, and the lake was filled in 2009. Since 2011, the lake was stocked with brown and rainbow trout as well as Konakee salmon. Current levels of fish populations offer excellent opportunities for Colorado fishing. Anglers can also find white and flannelmouth suckers, fathead minnows, johnny darters and crayfish.

2020 Brochure
Recreation Map