Changing Aspen Leaves - RMNP

Larimer County Offices, Courts, District Attorney, Landfill, Household Hazardous Waste, and Recycle Center are all closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2015.
County Offices are also closed on Friday, November 27 while the Courts, District Attorney, Landfill, Household Hazardous Waste, and Recycle Center are open. Critical services at Larimer County will not be disrupted by this closure.


Carter Lake Conditions

Park elevation: 5760'
Report last updated: 11/23/2015

Current Conditions

photo from park
A view of Carter Knolls campground from the Carter Lake swim beach.
Park situation


  • South Shore boat ramp is closed for the season. North boat ramps are still open for the season.  Hours posted below. Ramp hours changed after Labor Day.

  • HUNTING is not allowed at Carter Lake

  •  The shower house in the Eagle day use parking area is closed for the season. 
  • The dump station is closed for the season.
  • The swim beach is closed  for the season.
  • Ice fishing not permitted.
  • Rangers no longer sell annual passes, day passes, or any other permit, including camping permits.Daily entrance permits are available for purchase at the automated pay stations on south CR 31 and west CR 8E, near the entrance station gates. The automated pay stations accept credit and debit cards only. Cash or checks will no longer be accepted at the self-service automated pay stations.


Fishing conditions

All walleye longer than 21 inches in length, must be returned to the water immediately.

Daily bag limit for walleye is three (3) fish, 21 inches or less in length.

For more current conditions and stocking reports, check with the Division of Wildlife.

Ice fishing is not permitted


Water level and boat ramps

Be advised: Water levels at Carter Lake are low. The reservoir is around 45% full.


Boating Access Hours

Before traveling to one of our reservoirs, always check here first for the most current information.

We are required to inspect every vessel entering Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. That requires specific hours of operation for boating. No boat launching is permitted outside of these hours; however, boats already on the reservoirs may continue operation.

Starting Oct. 31, the North Ramp at Carter Lake and the South Bay boat ramps at Horsetooth Reservoir will be open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, on the weekends of :

 Nov. 21-22,

Nov. 28-29,

Dec. 5-6

Dec. 12-13.


Water elevation
  • Maximum pool elevation - 5,759 ft.
  • Current pool elevation - 5,695 ft.
  • Water temperature - 45 degrees

Carter Lake Marina Store is closed for their season. 


The campgrounds open for the winter season: Upper Eagle, South Shore, Flatiron and Pinewood sites 1-5.

Attention campers: If you do not have a reservation for a campsite, you will need to visit the Larimer County administrative office at 1800 South County Road 31 to purchase your campsite during the following hours:

Monday- Friday 08:00am - 04:30pm

Saturday- Sunday 10:00am- 04:00pm

Weekends are still filling up so reserve early!

Camping fees will no longer be accepted at your campsite. A reservation for camping is highly recommended. You may now reserve a campsite one day in advance. To reserve a campsite, call (800) 397-7795 or visit

Camping reservations may now be made from 1-180 days in advance.


Mule deer and elk are plentiful this time of year. Keep in mind we want to keep the wildlife wild. Do NOT leave food out or otherwise feed the wildlife. Several bears have been spotted at the north end of Carter Lake.

Drive carefully as wildlife often gathers near the roads.

Park events

A complete list of upcoming events can be found at

See the Parks and Open Lands event calendar.
Background Image: Changing Aspen Leaves in Rocky Mountain National Park by Jeremy Hollis. All rights reserved.