Official - Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area

2023 Delayed Opening1795 C.R. 210, Durango, Colorado - (970) 375-7335 - Lake Nighthorse Live Cam

Delayed Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area Opening of Friday April 14, Pending Road Conditions 

The temporary road surface connecting the entrance station to the boat ramp parking lot sustained extensive damage during this year’s massive snowfall. The road is currently saturated and severely damaged (above photos). Hopefully, conditions will dry enough to permit vehicular access as snow melts and temperatures increase. 

Seasonal closure of Lake Nighthorse is federally required to protect critical winter wildlife habitat. 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 National Audubon Society annual winter bird count at Lake Nighthorse continues to indicate how valuable this winter habitat is for Southwest Colorado, setting new records each year for number of species observed at the lake. 

2023 season passes can be purchased beginning January 1, 2023 in person at the Durango Community Recreation Center located at 2700 Main Avenue Durango, CO 81301. Prior to January 1st, Parks and Recreation Gift Cards may be purchased at the recreation center and then applied to a Lake Nighthorse pass at any time. Questions? Please call the Parks and Recreation Department at 970-375-7321.

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2023 Lake Nighthorse Hours of Operation

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.  

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

  • April 14 – May 7:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Non-Motorized Recreation ONLY
  • May 12 – 31: Open Daily; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Motorized Recreation Begins May 15
  • June 1 – September 4*:  7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Daily; Guarded Swim Beach June 1 - September 4

    *NEW for 2023: Extended hours through September 4th

  • September 5 - September 30: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Daily
  • October 1 – 15:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily 
  • October 20 – November 12:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday Only; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • November 13:  Winter Wildlife Closure begins

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)

Lake Nighthorse Entrance Passes

2023 Park Entrance Pass Options

  • Day Pass Vehicle Entrance  $10
  • Day Pass Walk/Bike Entrance  $4
  • Season Pass Vehicle:
    • 1st for Household  $80
    • Multiple Vehicle (Same Household)  $40
  • Season Pass Vehicle Senior *:
    • 1st for Household  $70
    • Multiple Vehicle Senior (Same Household)  $35
  • Season Pass Walk/Bike  $25
  • 5-Punch Pass Vehicle  $40
  • 5-Punch Pass Vehicle Senior *  $30
  • 5-Punch Pass Walk/Bike  $15
  • Commercial Vehicle / School Bus Day Pass $25 

  • Commercial Vehicle / School Bus 5-Punch Pass $100

 Senior is 62 years and over