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Carter Lake is located in the foothills west of Loveland at an elevation of 5,760 feet. It is a part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The purpose of this water project is to divert water from the west slope to the east slope for drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower generation. The Bureau of Reclamation is solely responsible for power generation. The agencies jointly manage water levels for irrigation, municipal, and industry use. Recreation is managed by Larimer County Natural Resources. Three miles long and about one mile wide, Carter Lake is a 1,100-acre reservoir surrounded by 1,000 acres of public lands and is popular for fishing, sailing, camping, swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing, and water skiing. It is open year round. Park Entrance Permits and Camping Fees are required.
Alerts and Important Information

Carter Lake specific notices:


  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Big Thompson, Carter Knolls, and North Pines campgrounds do not have electricity. They are Standard-sized (pull-in/pull-thru sites with picnic tables & tent pads) without electric hookups. Generators are allowed outside of quiet hours (10pm - 6am).
  • Drinking water and vault restrooms are located in each campground, except Carter Knolls does not have a water spigot. Water available at frost free spigots year round. From September - March (tentative) all other spigots will be turned off. For printable maps visit our website https://www.larimer.org/naturalresources/reservations/campgrounds
  • Water levels and current weather conditions can be found online: https://www.larimer.org/naturalresources/parks/webcams or call 970-619-4570 for more information.
  • All Campsite Reservations:


  • Each reservation is for one camping unit per site. (A camping unit is defined as a wheeled unit used to sleep in such as RVs, 5th wheels, trailers, pop-ups, etc.) Second units are NOT allowed at any campsite or cabin, but additional ground tents are allowed. (Call 970-619-4570 with questions.)
  • 6-8 people maximum per campsite at Carter Lake, Flatiron, Pinewood, and Horsetooth Reservoir campgrounds. The person making the reservation is responsible for ensuring all site occupants know and obey all regulations.
  • Check In: Noon at campsites (can check in later), 1 PM for group pods at Sky View. Go directly to campsite after obtaining required park entrance permits (annual or daily). Check Out: 11 AM.
  • Same day camping reservations are allowed at the park during regular business hours ONLY. No walk up, after hours camping without a reservation.

  • Cancellations, Changes, Fees, and Rules:


  • Reservations can be updated or cancelled online by logging in through ReserveAmerica. Or call 1(800) 397-7795 to change dates, site info, add nights, etc.
  • No Shows: Reservations will be held for visitors whether they show up or not. Reservation holders must cancel in advance to release their campsites.
  • Reselling a campsite or other service provided by Larimer County is NOT ALLOWED and may result in fines.
  • Cancellation fee: $6.35 per site/per reservation will be charged to the customer. (At no time shall the customer be charged more to cancel the reservation than it would have cost to camp.)
  • Cancel 6 days or more prior to arrival - An applicable refund will be granted less cancellation fee and reservation fee.
  • Cancel 5 days or less prior to arrival - 1 night use fee plus cancellation fee and reservation fee.

  • Please check the Season Dates tab for annual updates on site availability.

    Carter Lake camping trips are easy to plan with ReserveAmerica. Carter Lake campground reservations can be made online. Click one of the links below to see available campsites at Carter Lake or day pass availability.