In order to protect priceless Native American artifacts as well as our environment, there are several things to be mindful of. This reservoir serves as water storage for tribal and water right claim-holders along the Animas River. As such, it is imperative that we keep our water clean, unpolluted and protected from invasive species. As with any of Colorado’s beautiful wilderness, Leave no trace principals apply and proper disposal of all trash and waste is a must. Below are some important rules and regulations to understand before planning your trip.

General Rules

  • No smoking, grilling or fires of any kind
  • Lake Nighthorse is open for day use only
  • Motorized boats must have a valid registration from any state and a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) issued ANS stamp
  • Dispose of all trash in proper bins
  • No off-road vehicles or bicycles
  • Neither alcohol nor drugs are permitted
  • No glass containers
  • Do not disturb archaeological resources
  • No houseboats used as a human dwelling or cabin cruisers with full living quarters on board
  • No boats with open-air exhaust
  • Follow all CPW Fishing Regulations, including no live bait
  • Hazards are not clearly marked
  • No unauthorized drone use
  • No fishing where signs are posted
  • A fueling area is located at the entrance
  • There is an area designated for non-motorized craft near the Overflow Parking area; official boats will have access to the public safety personnel dock through the area
  • Motorized personal watercraft are not allowed except for special events
  • Public access is restricted to 25 feet above high-water level and in developed recreation areas
  • Boats travel in a counterclockwise direction in the open use area for towed recreation
  • Adhere to all city, state, and federal laws
  • Dogs are allowed, but pet owners are required to adhere to the city leash law and properly dispose of dog waste
  • Follow public conduct rules per federal regulations 43 CFR Part 423

Boating Regulations

  • All nonexempt watercraft are subject to Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) boat inspections. For more information, see the brochure: Boater’s Guide (PDF).
  • If there is no documentation providing proof of an exit inspection with a seal and white receipt from an area reservoir, all boats and non-exempt water craft are required to receive a complimentary boat inspection. Motorized boats that recently visited Navajo Lake are required to flush the motor with the hot water to decontaminate the vessel before entering the water.
  • All non-exempt watercraft and motorized boats should obtain an inspection when leaving contaminated bodies of water. Exit inspections are documented by certified officials and verified with a seal and receipt. Though out of state motorized watercraft are allowed, boats are subject to both a high-risk inspection and delayed entry based on the inspection.
  • Boats and rafts recently launched in bodies of water that are positive for ANS such as Navajo Lake, Lake Powell and the Colorado River will be inspected. If these watercraft cannot be decontaminated, they will not be allowed to enter the lake.
  • In order to ensure safe operations at the Lake Nighthorse boat inspection station during the COVID-19 Pandemic, please remain in your vehicle until given instructions by the boat inspector. If asked to leave your vehicle, please remain 6 feet from the boat inspector, lake staff, and other lake patrons.
  • Bring a face covering and personal supply of hand sanitizer.
  • If you have an electric motor, the motor must be inspected. Please remain in your vehicle until the boat inspector gives you instructions regarding this inspection process.

Fishing Regulations

Anglers 16 years of age and older must have a valid fishing license to fish at Lake Nighthorse. To find out how to purchase a fishing license, see: (Where to buy Fishing Licenses PDF).

  • Bag limit: 4 trout per day
  • Possession limit: 8 trout
  • Bag limit: 10 Kokanee salmon per day
  • Possession limit: 10 Kokanee salmon
  • No size limit restrictions
  • No live bait allowed
  • No snagging allowed
  • No fishing in areas where signs are posted
  • Place all fish entrails in the trash, not the lake
  • Anglers must adhere to all state regulations (see CPW Fishing Brochure)
Fishing Brochure
Boater's Guide
Where To Buy Fishing Licenses