A Guide to Horsetooth Reservoir

Rachel Rasmussen

Sponsored Content



Horsetooth Reservoir began as a project to help divert water from the western slope to the eastern slope for drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower generation. Now this 6.5-mile-long reservoir is one of Fort Collins most popular destinations for all sorts of outdoor activities. 

Biking, Hiking, and Horseback Riding

  • Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock Trail
    • 5.7 Miles
    • Difficulty level: Moderate
    • Gain 1,584 feet in elevation
    • As one of the most popular trails, Horsetooth Falls and Rock Trail is often pretty busy so the earlier you go the better. Once you make it to the top, you are rewarded with a beautiful view from the top of Horsetooth Rock.
  • Blue Sky Trail
    • 6.2 Miles
    • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
    • Gain 525 feet and lose 570 feet in elevation
    • Starting at Blue Sky Trailhead, the trail heads south with great views of the foothills and very few obstacles. The trail links up with some other trails and doesn’t have a lot of steep grades; making it a must visit trail.
  • North Foothills Trail
    • 2.6 Miles
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
    • Gain 269 in elevation
    • This trail has a beautiful view of Horsetooth Reservoir which makes it a popular destination for any and all skill levels and their dogs.

Bouldering and Climbing

  • Rotary Park
    • Location: off the east shore of Horsetooth Reservoir
    • Difficulty level based off V Scale: V0 to V9 
    • Rotary Park is one of the most popular destinations for bouldering and climbing at Horsetooth Reservoir. Climbers can enjoy a wide range of difficulty levels with fellow climbers as you take on areas such as Punk Rock, Mental Standard, or Meat Hook.
  • Duncan’s Ridge
    • Location: off the East shore, south of Rotary Park
    • Difficulty level based off Yosemite Decimal System (YDS): 5.6 to 5.11
    • Duncan’s Ridge is a very sunny wall with a great view of Horsetooth Reservoir. Most of the routes can be top-roped, making it a great location for beginning and experienced climbers.
  • Piano Keys
    • Location: east side of Centennial Dr.
    • V Scale: V0 to V5
    • The Piano Keys offer rope-less climbs that are easier for climbers that are just starting out. 

Camp Sites

  • Boat-In Sites
    • Location: West of Horsetooth 
    • Max number of people: 8
    • The boat-in sites provide partial shade for you and your dog to relax under. The sites also come with a fire pit and room for a tent in case you don’t feel like sleeping in your boat.
  • Cabin
    • Location: South Bay Camper Cabin
    • Max number of people: 5
    • If you want to camp in comfort, the cabins are for you. They have electricity, AC, heating, two beds, lighting, and a fire pit outside. Some are even wheelchair accessible.
  • Pavilion
    • Location: Lions’ Open Space, Sunrise, or South Bay
    • Max number of people: 50, 25, or 150
    • The pavilions around Horsetooth are great for a day out with friends, family, and pets. It has a grill for barbecues and a place to sit underneath a lean to so everyone can feast in the shade. They are also wheelchair accessible.
  • Standard Electric
    • Location: Inlet Bay Campground
    • Max number of people: 8
    • Inlet Bay is a great place to park your RV or trailer for the weekend, It has electricity, a place to set up a tent, and a fire pit for making S’mores.  
  • Standard Full Hookup
    • Location: South Bay Campground
    • Max number of people: 8
    • South Bay is the place to park your RV or trailer if you want a few upgrades. It comes with a water and sewer hookup, a grill or fire ring, and a picnic table.

Boat Rentals

  • Inlet Bay Marina Boat Rentals
    • 4314 S. Shoreline Dr.
    • Inletbaymarina.com 
    • Inlet Bay provides a variety of boat options for those who are interested but don’t own a boat
  • Buckhorn Ridge Outfitters
    • 9634 Alfalfa Way in Loveland
    • Buckhornridgeoutfitters.com 
    • Not only does Buckhorn Ridge have boat rentals but they also have boat tour services that take you on pontoon and fly fishing guided tours.

Water Activities

  • Paddle boarding
    • What’s SUP Stand Up Paddle boarding
      • 4200 W County Rd 38 E
      • 970-797-4996
      • Rent paddle boards and other equipment. They also do group rentals for special occasions
    • Paddle board at South Bay, Sunrise, Satanka Bay, and South Shore at Horsetooth Reservoir.
  • Swimming
    • There are two locations that permit swimming at Horsetooth. One is South Bay ad the other is Sunrise. Both have sectioned off areas designated for swimming.
    • Both locations are swim-at-your-own-risk
  • Scuba Diving
    • High Plains Scuba
      • 115 W Harvard St.
      • 970-493-8562
      • High Plains Scuba offers high quality lessons and state of the art equipment. Lessons take place in an on-site heated pool.
    • The most popular place for scuba diving classes are at Sunrise at Horsetooth.


  • Fish for Walleye, Brown and Rainbow Trout, White Bass, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Sunfish
  • Fishing is allowed all around the perimeter of Horsetooth Reservoir but not within 100 feet of the dam.
  • Visit Larimercounty.org for more information about regulations about fishing.

For more information on recreation areas, trails, camping, boating, fishing, and more feel free to visit the Horsetooth Area Information Center. They are located at 4200 W County Rd 38 E., or call them at 970-498-5610.