Official - Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area

winter closure photo collage1795 C.R. 210, Durango, Colorado - (970) 375-7335 - Lake Nighthorse Live Cam

Lake Nighthorse is closed for the winter season until April 1, 2022  

This federally required seasonal closure is to protect critical winter wildlife habitat at Lake Nighthorse. By closing Lake Nighthorse to recreation during winter months, deer and elk that migrate to these lower elevations in winter do not have to actively move - burning stored fat as calories - to avoid humans. There is very little nutrition available to these wildlife during the winter months when plants are dormant, even if there is no snow, so they must conserve stored body fat until new plant growth occurs in the spring. Not only deer and elk benefit from this seasonal closure, but also water fowl. The annual winter bird count at Lake Nighthorse continues to indicate how valuable this winter habitat is for Southwest Colorado. The Durango Christmas Bird Count from last year had the highest number of species in the history of this bird count. Lake Nighthorse was a major factor.

  1. Hours of operation
  2. Entrance passes
  3. Activities/ programs
  4. Swim beach
  5. Fishing facts
  6. Boating rules
  7. Historic documents

Lake Nighthorse recreation schedule

30 minutes prior to daily closure, the entrance gate will be closed to access, and boat exit inspections as well as watercraft launches will cease.  

Quiet & wakeless hours from October 22 - November 14 are on Friday from open until 10 a.m.

During daily operations, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday open to 10 a.m. are quiet & wakeless hours, including holidays.

2021 Hours of operation may vary due to COVID-19. 

  • April 2 – May 9:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Non-Motorized Recreation ONLY
  • May 14 – 31: Open Daily; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Guarded Swim Beach Opens May 14; Motorized Recreation Begins May 15
  • June 1 – August 22:  6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Daily
  • August 23 - September 30: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Daily 
  • October 1 – 17:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily 
  • October 22 – November 14:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • November 15:  Winter Wildlife Closure

Lake Nighthorse operations

To ensure quality recreational experiences at Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area, here is a list of City of Durango and Bureau of Reclamation rules and regulations: Lake Nighthorse Recreational Operations (PDF)

Entrance Sign image