Green Mountain Reservoir, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Northwest -

Thousands of tourists and recreational guests come to the Colorado Rockies each year, never knowing that Green Mountain Reservoir is only a short distance away. This little-known lake is only about 20 miles downriver from well-known Silverthorne, in the White River National Forest. The 2000+-acre reservoir is visited primarily by local residents who delight in the scenery, the fishing and the many US Forest Service campsites along the shore.

Nestled beneath the Gore Mountain and Williams Peak ranges, the reservoir takes its name from towering Green Mountain to the northeast. The 19-mile shoreline is a mix of national forest land and private property. Some private homes are located in the village of Heeney on the northwest shore. A small marina at Heeney rents fishing boats, pontoons and water sports equipment, sells boat gas, rents boat slips and offers snacks, supplies, bait and ice. The lake is heavily used for power boating, sailing, wake boarding, jet skiing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. Highway 9 skirts the eastern edge of the reservoir along part of its length, and a local road travels the western shore, making circling the lake a pleasant afternoon’s excursion for driving, hiking or cycling.

Fishing is good at Green Mountain Reservoir. The cold-water fishery is loaded with rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and lake trout. Lake trout are often caught through the ice in winter. But the real drawing card is kokanee salmon. Some of Colorado’s biggest kokanee come from Green Mountain Reservoir; snagging is permitted from September through December. A Colorado fishing permit is required and special regulations must be followed. Because there has been an overabundance of smaller lake trout, special expanded limits are currently in effect.

A forest service pass is required for those visiting the lake. All personally-owned boats must be registered and inspected for aquatic invasive species. Boats rented from the marina already are inspected, but the marina staff will also inspect boats for a nominal fee. Cleaning service is available for those boats not passing inspection. Another public boat launch ramp is located near the south end of the reservoir at McDonald’s Flats Day Use Area near the Blue River inlet. The former Davis Springs Campground upstream on the Blue River has been converted to a day-use-only site with ample opportunities for shore fishing.

Six rustic campgrounds are located along the shore of Green Mountain Reservoir; only Cow Creek South accepts reservations. All campgrounds are small, with a maximum of 24 sites. All have vault toilets, and the McDonald Flats Campground and Prairie Point Campground have water available. Few visitors choose to swim in the cold waters of this high-elevation lake. One resort property with housekeeping cabins is located near the Davis Springs Day Use site. The resort keeps some cabins open for hunters during the season for hunting within the White River National Forest big game units. Several trails in the area lead to the Cataract Lake area and other destinations in the surrounding mountains.

Elk and deer are plentiful and often seen, as are bald eagles, ospreys and a variety of birds. Hang gliders practice their sport at the north end of the reservoir, and municipalities both to the north and south offer special events and festivals throughout the year. Silverthorne has factory outlet stores. Not far away, visitors can arrange for horseback trail riding, hot air balloon rides, guided fishing trips, downhill skiing, narrow gauge train tours, casino gambling, view a rodeo, attend a barbecue, go ATV riding or take a mountain bike trail to dizzying heights. Those who enjoy fly fishing can enjoy the Blue River, designated as Gold Medal Trout Waters. Surrounding towns have commercial hotels, motels and guest lodges. Private rentals can often be found via local advertisements. Local craftsmen offer their wares in many small storefronts, and the entire scenic area is a joy for artists and photographers.

Green Mountain Reservoir is a vital part of the major Colorado-Big Thompson project which moves water from the headwaters area of the Colorado River on the western slope of the Rockies to the eastern slope of Colorado and cities such as Boulder and Denver. The reservoir was the first one built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1937 with construction of a dam across the Blue River, a tributary of the Colorado River. The reservoir was part of the compromise that allowed water to be moved to the eastern slope while also returning water to the headwaters region. The reservoir works in tandem with Wolford Mountain Reservoir and requires a delicate balance of returning water to the river for the use of wildlife as well as human use. Due to seasonal water needs, water levels can vary considerably on the lake. Green Mountain Reservoir also generates hydroelectric power for use in the surrounding area and provides some water to local ranches. The town of Heeney was originally built for workers on the original dam, with many of the local cottages now used as vacation homes for their owners.

Getting to Green Mountain Reservoir isn’t difficult. Highway 9 north out of Silverthorne will get visitors there in less than an hour. The same highway continues on to Kremmling on US 40. Denver is only two hours to the east. So, detour off the interstate to visit this slice of Colorado paradise.

Things to do at Green Mountain Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Green Mountain Reservoir

  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Green Mountain Reservoir Photo Gallery

Green Mountain Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Spread the word! Share our Green Mountain Reservoir article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.