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Insider Guide to Horsetooth Reservoir


By Trigg Skoe


The Horsetooth Rock Trailhead is only 20 minutes away from the CSU campus. (Michael Berg | RamPage)

Horsetooth Reservoir is a popular destination for exploring graffiti caves, wakeboarding, water skiing, climbing, cliff jumping, fishing and much more. Parking and camping are available in designated areas with posted signage for regulations and guides. The South Bay and Eltuck Cove beaches make for a nice night of camping near the water. If a day swim is more of what you’re interested in the Eastern shore provides great swimming areas, but make sure to bring a grill and tube. When the swimming at Horsetooth gets a little boring it’s fun to perk it up with some backflips and gainers off a cliff. Party cove, also known as Satanka Bay, found on the North Western shore offers cliffs of five to 25 feet, other areas can be found at Seaman’s Reservoir and other coves like Eltuck Cove accessed by Lory State Park. If you plan to jump, be sure check the depth by diving to the bottom before hand and know your limits.

Exploring these different areas is best when boating, kayaking, or stand up paddle boarding and enjoying the warm water while finding secluded areas. Around Horsetooth there are rentals for paddle boards, kayaks, and pontoon boats. The Marina rents pontoons out and a paddle board tent is located at Satanka Bay. A great afternoon is spent paddle boarding out to an island and enjoying the sun with good company. Be careful not to enjoy yourselves too much because there are rangers on patrol on and around the reservoir.

A cool spot off the East shore is called Rotary Park here you can find some bouldering spots with some world class V4’s and V5’s. Another spot at Rotary Park is the graffiti caves just off the parking lot.  Here many people have spray painted the rocks with words and images covering the walls and roof of the rock. Other climbing areas for bouldering and sport are named Duncan’s ridge and the Piano Keys.

When you’re in Fort Collins it’s always the best to have a friend with a boat for getting out on the reservoir for some boarding, skiing, or tubing. These activities, as well as hiking, and biking is what makes Horsetooth a treasured part of Fort Collins and why you should go out and enjoy it!

For easy and cheap travel rent a paddleboard to explore, rentals are found directly at Horsetooth by What’s SUP, Paddleboards @ The Comedy Overlook. In Fort Collins rentals are found at Gearage and Rocky Mountain Adventures.   

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