Horsetooth reservoir offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for long summer days of rest and relaxation

Carson Lipe

man relaxes at Horsetooth
Horsetooth reservoir offers a wide variety of outdoor acitivities for long summer days of rest and relaxation. (Photo Illustration by Vinny Del Conte)

If Old Town is the beating heart of Fort Collins, then Horsetooth Reservoir is the buttocks; used mostly for rest and relaxation.

Viewed through many different lenses, Horsetooth can be a binge-drinking hotspot or the location for an afternoon swim, but when the classic activities become mundane and repetitive, Horsetooth must not be forgotten. There is enough entertainment at the reservoir to keep one occupied year-round. In fact, there are so many things to do there that some of the activities go unnoticed.


Scuba Diving

At 1,900 acres of water, opportunities for wet sports in the reservoir are innumerable. Aside from the fishing, waterskiing, boating and swimming, there are plenty of places to go scuba diving. Although the reservoir is used as mostly a training and beginner’s dive site, anyone is welcome to dive in the various areas. The main areas set aside for diving at the reservoir are the South Bay and Lower Sunrise seven days a week, while Dixon, Orchard and Quarry coves are reserved for weekday diving. Be sure to review the rules and regulations of Horsetooth before diving, as diving alone or without a diver’s flag posted in the vicinity will net you a $50 fine.

Horsetooth reservoir offers a wide variety of outdoor acitivities for long summer days of rest and relaxation. (Photo by Vinny Del Conte) .


Some days at Horsetooth are so fun, you don’t ever want them to end. Luckily, there is a possibility to extend your stay overnight at a plethora of camping sites. Overnight areas can be reached by foot, camper or boat. Boat-in camp sites are plentiful, allowing you to pull your boat right up to your personal wilderness hotel room. Reservations are needed April-October, but anytime before or after that, campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The Inlet Bay and South Bay areas have showers and facilities for those who want to clean up before bedding down.


The bread and butter of Horsetooth reservoir is sometimes hidden in plain sight. Modern American bouldering, a form of climbing, is considered by many to have gotten its start at Horsetooth and with hundreds of routes and problems, it is no surprise. Areas like “the torture chamber” once gave world-class climbers such as John Gill and Jim Holloway a place to hone their skills, while beginner climbers can find plenty of bouldering problems to fit their experience level. Again, be sure to take note of which areas are on and off limits for bouldering as hopping on the wrong rock can incite another $50 fee from the park officials.

Keep your money out of the hands of Park officials by reviewing the rules and regulations of these activities at

Whatever your fancy, there is something to do at Horsetooth for everyone. Whether it’s a backdrop for some quality time with friends and family, or a place you go to knock out a workout, it can be agreed upon that this is the outdoor pinnacle for recreation in Fort Collins. Visitors of Fort Collins would be doing a disservice to skip the scenery of the roughly 2,000 acres of public land located around the reservoir, so make sure to bring any guests for at least a car-lap around the water. This summer, if you find that you’re bored of your everyday routine, try partaking in one of these niche activities for just a day. You might even discover a new hobby.

Collegian reporter Carson Lipe can be reached at or on Twitter @carsonlipe.