Aurora Reservoir, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Denver Area -

If you’re looking for a peaceful, activity-oriented Colorado vacation in the Denver Region, you can’t go wrong with Aurora Reservoir. This 820-acre city-owned and operated reservoir used to be considered “The Outback,” but a recent building boom has brought several stylish new real estate developments nearby. Now, you can get close to the water and still have all of the amenities that Aurora and Denver provide.

A few years ago, Aurora was a small suburb of much bigger Denver. Because new growth forecast the need for a larger water supply, the City of Aurora contracted to have a new reservoir built southeast of the city. The former facility, Senac Dam and Reservoir, on Senac Creek, wasnt big enough to add storage capacity to augment the other, main storage basin. It was enlarged, renamed Aurora Reservoir, and gains water via Senac Creek, a tributary of Coal Creek. The water originates in the South Platte River and augments water supplies from Quincy Reservoir to the west.

Since the lake was built in 1990 for water storage, the City of Aurora has attempted to follow all best practices to handle the water in an ecologically-sound manner: no gasoline engines are allowed on the reservoir except for Water Patrol and emergency boats. Electric motors are allowed. This not only keeps the water free of combustion byproducts, but is quieter and restricts speeds. A city-owned 2300-acre park encloses the 8-mile shoreline completely, assuring a green buffer perimeter. Within the park, the city has set aside areas for swimming, archery, sailing and windsurfing. The latter enjoys a nearly two-mile reach, making it an exhilarating experience.

A separate scuba diving area has a twin-engine plane submerged to give divers the opportunity to dive a wreck, making Aurora Reservoir a sought-after diving destination. For scuba spectators (and divers needing a rest), large picnic pavilions are available and can be reserved for groups. Bicycle and walking trails cris-cross the area and interconnect with other public walking trails. The park is a favored spot to hold reunions and special events. Triathlons and tournaments often vie for a spot on the park calendar. Small boats, canoes, kayaks and other non-motorized water sport craft can be rented on-site.

Fishermen are always welcome at Aurora Reservoir. Catfish, largemouth bass, perch, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and wiper are available for pursuit. All boats must obtain a permit; a system of inspection is followed to assure no invasive species gain entry to the lake. As with most Colorado reservoirs, Aurora has its own set of regulations covering bag limits, sizes and baits that are allowed. Fishing tournaments occur on a regular basis and information regarding upcoming events is listed on the park’s website. The no-wake atmosphere makes Aurora Reservoir a excellent place to teach a child the ancient art of bobber-watching. A disability-accessible fishing dock assures everyone can enjoy wetting a line here.

The trail system offers plentiful opportunities for wildlife viewing and birding. The combination of water and short-grass prairie brings many seldom-seen small mammals into view along with shore birds, hunting birds and songbirds. The perimeter trail around Aurora Reservoir is available during daylight hours year round and is used for skateboarding, roller skating and, in winter, cross-country skiing.

The city of Aurora may not be as big as Denver, but when it comes to activities, events and attractions, it’s certainly no slouch: fine dining and nightlife abound. The city contains several historical buildings available for tours and the Aurora Fox Theater offers stage productions for both adults and children in a restored 1940’s theater setting. Southlands Mall is less than six miles from Aurora Reservoir, with exclusive shops and unusual retail offerings. The Aurora History Museum offers both in-house and traveling exhibits of Colorado history and culture. And there’s always a rodeo happening somewhere nearby, if that’s your interest. The city website lists local golf courses that are open to visitors. Of course, you can always head into Denver proper to take advantage of such attractions as the Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo.

It’s in the area of nature, ecology and outdoor activity that the area near Aurora Reservoir excels: miles of trails connect most attractions across the city. At Star K Ranch, home of Morrison Nature Center, wildlife viewing is available for various wildlife in their natural habitat. Also at Star K Ranch, AWQUA Lounge (Aurora Water Quality Understanding and Appreciation) offers learning activities on water appreciation and conservation for kids and adults. The Plains Conservation Center gives visitors a better understanding of the fragile dry plains ecology and its effects on native animals. Just north of the city, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge can provide views of larger plains animals, such as mule deer, buffalo and the ever-present antelope.

Although there is no private development along the shore of Aurora Reservoir, new real estate developments are being built immediately outside the park perimeter. Condos and vacation rentals can be found in the areas of Tallyn’s Reach, Beacon Hill and Southshore. A bit farther from the lakefront, the visitor may find exactly what they’re looking for in the areas of Littleton, Foxfield, Pheasant Run and Aurora proper. So, come visit Aurora Reservoir. Enjoy the water, the wildlife and the selection of laid-back activities. Spend a little time here – you may fall in love.

Things to do at Aurora Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • Museum

Fish species found at Aurora Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Aurora Reservoir Photo Gallery

Aurora Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Aurora

Surface Area: 820 acres

Shoreline Length: 8 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,930 feet

Average Depth: 39 feet

Maximum Depth: 110 feet

Water Volume: 31,650 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1990

Water Residence Time: 6 years

Drainage Area: 4 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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