Boysen Reservoir, Wyoming, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Wyoming - Central -

Also known as:  Boysen Lake

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Its gleaming expanse framed by the barren high desert hills of Central Wyoming, Boysen Reservoir offers a welcome respite from the summer heat. Nearly 20,000 acres of water lie behind the Boysen Dam, with its outflow powering hydroelectric generation. Surrounding the 77-mile shoreline, Boysen State Park offers a wealth of water-based recreation for the many visitors who come here each year.

Eleven campgrounds grace the shores of Boysen Reservoir. Most are operated by the State Park system, but one is under the control of the leased marina which also leases seasonal campsites and mobile home lots. The campgrounds have drinking water, picnic tables, wind screens and basic restrooms. There is no electricity and shade is limited. The five boat ramps at Boysen Reservoir are located mostly in camping areas which also serve for day-use. Several offer shallow, sandy swim areas. Because the area is quite popular, reservations are suggested on busy summer weekends. Most of the land around the lake is part of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Several nearby towns are located within a few miles of the reservoir, including Shoshoni, Riverton and Arapahoe. These small villages have stores for general supplies and occasionally, guest lodgings and services. Larger Thermopolis is about 20 miles to the north. The campgrounds mostly remain open in winter as long as roads are passable. The area receives moderate amounts of snow, enough for some cross-country skiing.

The marina provides all of the necessities visiting boaters could want. A fully-stocked store sells boating and fishing needs, water sports equipment and swimwear. A restaurant is available for meals, and a convenience store sells snacks, ice and grocery staples. Dock space can be rented and dry dock storage can be arranged for those who leave their larger boats at the lake. All water sports are enjoyed at Boysen Reservoir, including water skiing, jet skiing, wind-surfing and sailing, while canoes and kayaks often skirt the shoreline. Local boating shops rent all types of boats and sports equipment that can be delivered to the lake.

Fishermen spread the word about Boysen Reservoir; the waters hold some large walleyes, and walleye tournaments are regularly held here. In fact, Wyoming’s state-record walleye was caught at Boysen Reservoir-a whopping 17.4 pounds. The lake also holds perch, brown trout, rainbow trout, crappie, largemouth bass, blue gill, smallmouth bass, ling (burbot), sauger and cutthroat trout. Fishing continues year-round, with ice fishing taking over in winter. The boat ramps are built so that they are usable with varying water depths. The United States Bureau of Reclamation website lists current water depths and the depths at which each ramp is usable.

Boysen State Park has a few maintained trails on its 15,000 acres of dry land, but for anyone willing to do a bit of climbing, there is plenty of space to explore. Several areas are perfect for horseback riding. In spring, a surprising display of color is provided by dessert wildflowers, and many animals can be seen in the area. Bighorn sheep are often sighted, while hikers must be alert for the less-often seen rattlesnakes which inhabit the crevasses in the rocks. The scenery across the lake is spectacular, with a section of badlands-type rock formations seen west of the dam area. The exposed rock surrounding the lake exhibits the layers of ancient sediment laid down by eons of rushing water. Hunting is allowed in some portions of the park during the appropriate season. The proper license must be obtained and all regulations followed. Entrance to the State Park requires a daily or seasonal fee except for accessing the marina. Camping is an additional fee.

This section of the Wind River was first dammed in 1908 by Asmus Boysen, a Danish immigrant who wished to produce hydro-electrical power. However, his newly constructed dam quickly flooded the newly-constructed railroad tracks that provided transportation for the budding mining industry. Years of lawsuits resulted in the dam being blown up so that the railway could operate. The current reservoir was finally built between 1949 and 1952 after a rail tunnel over a mile long carried the train tracks beneath the proposed dam and part of the planned lake.

The Town of Thermopolis has a few attractions that will interest all members of the family. The Wyoming Dinosaur Museum is located here, with displays, interpretive exhibits and an on-going ‘dig’ where youngsters can dig for their own surprise find. The Hot Springs County Museum and Cultural Center holds everything from early native artifacts to geologic displays to the Hole-In-The-Wall Saloon. The museum features a reconstructed Main Street, coal mine exhibit, and a few Wild West Outlaws thrown in for good measure. Nearby is Hot Springs State Park, a day-use park that features thermal mineral pools open for bathing. Operated under the supervision of Hot Springs State Park, the Legend Rock Petroglyph Site holds a large number of ancient pictographs on a large rock wall. The pictographs represent native art from a variety of tribes who lived in the area, with an impressive display of animals and primitive hunting scenes.

Thermopolis offers several hotels, guest lodgings of nearly every description and plenty of restaurants, cafes and local shopping. Outfitters in the area are ready to provide all types of guided outdoor adventure, including river rafting, mountaineering and horseback riding. The drive into Wind River Canyon, just south of Thermopolis, is one of the most scenic in Wyoming. Reaching Boysen Reservoir along historic US 20 is an adventure, with tunnels and breathtaking scenery around each bend. If you haven’t scheduled a visit yet, Boysen Reservoir awaits-along with those walleyes.

Things to do at Boysen Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Boysen Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Burbot
  • Crappie
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Boysen Reservoir Photo Gallery

Boysen Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 20,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 77 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,725 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 4,732 feet

Water Volume: 952,400 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1952

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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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