Lake Dillon, Colorado, USA
Also known as: Dillon Reservoir
Nestled in the middle of some of Summit County’s best skiing, Lake Dillon is the perfect year round getaway. With its rich history, fantastic sport fishing, and easy access to world class skiing, the lake or Dillon Reservoir as it’s sometimes known, is sure to become a family favorite.
The original town of Dillon was typical for its time period, springing up during the mineral boom of the 1800’s. Located at the junction of three rivers, the Blue River, Snake River, and Tenmile Creek, Lake Dillon enjoyed an uninterrupted history until the early 1960’s, when the entire town was relocated for the construction of the Dillon Dam and Reservoir. The old town, hydroelectric plant, cemetery, and many historical buildings were moved to the present site of the town. Today, visitors to Dillon Reservoir can tour some of the old buildings including a school house from 1883 that currently houses the Summit Historical Society Museum. There are also scenic historic boat tours offered on Lake Dillon.
Completed in 1963, Lake Dillon is the largest facility in the Denver Water System. Dillon Dam is an earth-filled dam that diverts water from the Blue River Basin, through the Harold D. Roberts Tunnel, under the Continental Divide, and into the South Platte River Basin. Managed by Denver Water, the reservoir levels are lowered in the fall to accommodate the expected snowfall, sometimes reaching as high as 26 feet.
The snow is Summit County’s biggest draw, beckoning skiers from all over the world. Lake Dillon is conveniently located between Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, Arapahoe Basin, and Breckenridge ski resorts. Visitors to Lake Dillon can participate in all kinds of winter sports including downhill and cross-country skiing, and when the lake freezes, ice fishing.
The fun isn’t limited, however, to just the winter sports. Although water contact sports like swimming and waterskiing are prohibited on the lake, sports enthusiasts can sailboard in full wet or dry suits, and boating and sailing are popular activities. Visitors can also rent canoes and kayaks at one of the lakes’ many outfitters. Anglers will find challenging sport fishing for rainbow and brown trout. There is also a healthy population of Kokanee salmon, and the Blue River below Dillon Dam is popular with stream and fly fishermen who have been known to catch trout over 24 inches long. Dillon Yacht Club lays claim to being the “highest elevated club in North America,” and Lake Dillon Water Taxi makes a similar claim.
The Gore, Williams Fork, and Tenmile mountain ranges with peaks as high as 13,300 feet, provide the perfect backdrop for hiking around Lake Dillon. The Sapphire Point Trail in particular leads to a scenic overlook, looking down on the lake. There are high alpine roads, historic byways, as well as several campgrounds run by the Forest Service. Nearby in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, hikers can see black bear, elk, moose, mule deer, and even the occasional mountain lion.
With its beautiful water, majestic mountain ranges, and world class snow sports, Lake Dillon is a spectacular year round destination.
Things to do at Lake Dillon
- Vacation Rentals
- Ice Fishing
- Water Skiing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Wildlife Viewing
Fish species found at Lake Dillon
- Brown Trout
- Kokanee Salmon
Lake Dillon Photo Gallery
Lake Dillon Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Denver Water
Surface Area: 3,233 acres
Shoreline Length: 27 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 9,009 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 8,971 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 9,017 feet
Average Depth: 79 feet
Water Volume: 234,763 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1963
Lake Area-Population: 802
Drainage Area: 329 sq. miles
Trophic State: Primarily Oligotrophic
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