Boyd Lake, Colorado, USA
Boyd Lake is a modern recreational playground covering over 1,700 acres in Larimer County. Located in the northeastern section of the City of Loveland, the reservoir is part of northern Colorado’s Front Range region. Visitors flock to this aquatic oasis to enjoy fishing, boating, jet skiing, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, camping, hiking, and hunting. Most visitors to the sandy swimming beach never realize Boyd Lake isn’t a natural feature in the landscape. All they know is that this lovely lake provides a rare water recreation opportunity on the dry East Slope Plain.
Water comes dear on the Front Range. The local west-flowing river, the South Platte, was made famous in the saying, “A mile wide and six inches deep. Too thick to drink and to thin to plow.” In many areas, the South Platte disappears under the sand only to reappear a few miles later. Although other rivers, including the Big Thompson and the Cache La Poudre, flow east through the area, due to seasonal variations, none could provide the irrigation waters necessary to reliably grow crops. Settlers barely put down roots before squabbles over water rights began showing up in the courts. By 1861, ditches were being dug for irrigation purposes and soon resulted in claims that one party or another was taking too large a share of the scarce water. As the population increased, the struggle to provide a quality municipal water supply for the growing towns added to the tensions.
When Colorado became a state in 1876, the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation was written into the new Constitution to settle the endless arguments taking up the courts’ time. Construction began on reservoirs designed to store spring run-off from the upper Rockies for summer irrigation and to provide constant city water supplies. Boyd Lake was constructed in 1905, both for irrigation purposes and municipal water supply. Loveland Lake and Horseshoe Lake were added within a short time. This interconnected water supply gains water from the Colorado-Big Thompson West Slope Diversion project and Big Thompson River. All three lakes act as storage reservoirs and, after filtration, drinking water for the City of Loveland.
An irrigation canal runs east toward Greeley, and needed irrigation water can be obtained either from Boyd Lake or the Greeley-area reservoirs fed by the Poudre and Platte Rivers. The reservoirs and irrigation canals are owned by several different organizations, and their cooperative agreements are overseen by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Amazingly, this system of diffuse ownership and cooperation works quite well. Everyone has the water they need, and Boyd Reservoir stays relatively full and ready for recreation.
Because the Front Range has almost no natural lakes, reservoirs such as Boyd Lake have been carefully developed to provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Boyd Lake State Park occupies the west shoreline and extends onto the finger of land that separates Boyd Lake from Horseshoe Lake. The 334-acre park provides camping for all types of gear and vehicles, fishing, swimming, picnicking and plenty of trails for walking, cycling, and wildlife and bird watching. Fox, beaver, coyote, cottontails, muskrat, and other small mammals are viewed frequently by park visitors. Birds seen include egrets, great blue heron, hawks, great-horned owls, eagles, burrowing owls, white pelicans and other species. More than 200 species of migratory and resident birds are known to frequent the area. Trails join with the City of Loveland’s regional trail system at the south and north ends of the park. During the winter, the trails are plowed for year-round use.
All types of watercraft, including ski boats, fishing boats, jet skis, sailboats, and canoes use Boyd Lake’s 1,700 surface-acres of water. The lake is divided nearly in half horizontally with waterskiing and wake-producing watercraft limited to the south half. More leisurely-paced water activities, including swimming and beach recreation, take place on the northern half. Water level varies according to rainfall and seasonal draw-downs for irrigation, with highest levels in the spring and lower levels in the fall.
The lake’s main boat ramp is located at the Marina at the east end of the State Park parking lot and is open daily. The Boyd Lake Marina offers boat rentals, mooring services, fuel, snacks and boating and fishing supplies. Heron Cove Ramp, open only on weekends, is located just north of the group picnic area. All boats must be inspected to be sure they are free from invasive aquatic species before launch. All must be legally permitted by the state. Colorado waterways have some specific rules that must be followed, so visitors need to get a copy and read up on requirements before arriving.
Bass, catfish, brown trout, rainbow trout, bluegill, crappie, walleye, and perch are all fished at Boyd Lake, with walleye the most sought-after. Be aware that there is a mercury contamination warning for fish from Boyd Lake, with salleye being the most suspect. The situation is being monitored carefully to find the entry point.
The eastern shore of Boyd Lake is beginning to see real estate development. Vacation rentals and condos can be found for a week or for longer periods, allowing visitors to enjoy fine views of the lake. For those wishing to experience the on-going nightlife and activities of a metropolitan setting, rentals in Loveland, Greeley and Fort Collins will give you access to the lake anywhere from a mile or so to 20 miles away. All three provide historical museums, art galleries, theater and music venues. Summer concerts are produced weekly at Boyd Lake State Park. In close proximity are Rocky Mountain National Park, Poudre Canyon, malls, a sculpture park, foundries, and numerous county and city parks.
The beautiful Poudre River flows through Roosevelt National Forest lands. Rocky Mountain National Park – one of America’s national treasures – lies to the south. Both offer both back country and drive-in camp sites, hiking trails and wildlife viewing in natural surrounding. All visitors should be in good condition and well-prepared before attempting the hiking trails. Many are steep and require strenuous effort. All visitors should be aware of the weather forecast and have an up-to-date map of the area before venturing into the back country.
The Larimer County Fairgrounds & Events Complex and the Budweiser Events Center near Fort Collins offer events such as rodeos, concerts, horse shows and educational events. Greeley offers four museums, an ice hockey rink, golf courses, and a family Funplex featuring a water park. Loveland offers concerts, festivals, and a wide variety of hands-on learning workshops. Boulder and Denver are about 50 miles to the south of Boyd Lake; both provide big-city amenities and nightlife. The entire area is experiencing rapid growth of business and can provide excellent relocation options to small business visitors.
Come visit Boyd Lake. Enjoy the multiple activities, the water, and the surrounding area. Experience unique aquatic fun along the famed Front Range. Find rentals or even real estate properties for purchase and become a Coloradoan – if even for a short while. We’ll see you there!
Things to do at Boyd Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Jet Skiing
- Water Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
- State Park
- National Park
- National Forest
- City Park
Fish species found at Boyd Lake
- Brown Trout
- Rainbow Trout
Boyd Lake Photo Gallery
Boyd Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Surface Area: 1,674 acres
Shoreline Length: 10 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,958 feet
Average Depth: 30 feet
Maximum Depth: 50 feet
Water Volume: 49,048 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1905
Water Residence Time: 3 years
Trophic State: Mesotrophic
Spread the word! Share our Boyd Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!