Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Front Range -

Also known as:  Dowdy Lake, Parvin Lake, West Lake, Bellaire Lake, Creedmore Lake, Lost Lake

One of the most interesting lake systems on Colorado’s Front Range is Red Feather Lakes. The community’s name is derived from a popular Native American concert singer’s name, Princess Tsianina Redfeather, who studied in Denver and was known to some of the early residents. Located 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado in northern Larimer County, the recreational destination came about as a result of efforts to assure water for irrigation. The lakes were already becoming a popular summer destination by the 1920s. Today, Red Feather Lakes offer four seasons of fun for residents and visitors alike.

Although popular for fishing, visitors come to the lakes for many reasons. The mountainous area is surrounded by Roosevelt National Forest and offers infinite opportunities for hiking, hunting, mountain biking, bird watching and nature observation. The immediate vicinity holds bear, antelope, moose, mule deer, mountain lions, elk, bighorn sheep, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and a variety of migratory birds, shorebirds and waterfowl. In wintertime, residents and visitors come for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice-fishing. Opportunities for canoeing and kayaking the Lone Pine Creek are likely as popular as whitewater rafting on the Cache La Poudre River nearby: the upper stretches of the Poudre are designated as Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River. One of Buddhism’s greatest monuments in America, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, is located west of Red Feather Lakes. Set against the background of the Rocky Mountains, a visit to the Red Feather Lakes area is a photographer’s dream.

Local lore says none of the lakes are natural and that all have been the result of digging, damming and dikes to control and divert natural water sources and wetlands. Settlers first came to the area in the last quarter of the 1800s to mine and log timber for the railroad in southern Wyoming. The Red Feather Storage and Irrigation Company was formed in 1948 to purchase water rights and reservoirs no longer needed for local irrigation. The new Irrigation Company stabilized water levels to improve fishing and recreation. Property owners were given the right to utilize these lakes. Small cabins from the 1920s rub elbows with elaborate recent homes. Two recent housing developments have increased Red Feather Lakes’ population: one development offers an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, spa, driving range, tennis courts, hiking trails and a full complement of amenities, including use of the lakes, within a gated community. The village and surrounding areas offer residents and visitors services such as restaurants, gift shops, several stores with gas stations, post office, library, post office and fire department. A nine-hole golf course was centrally built many years ago, closed, then re-opened by volunteers for the benefit of the residents.

Red Feather Lakes are usually referred to as possessing 14 lakes, with eight of them in the village itself. Those belonging to Red Feather Storage and Irrigation Company are: Apache Lake, Lake Erie, Hiawatha Lake, Letitia Lake, Nokomis Lake, Snake Lake, Ramona Lake and Shagwa Lake. Several of these are ‘no boats’ lakes, although shoreline fishing is generally allowed. No gasoline motors are allowed on any of these lakes. Although there is no public record of the size of these lakes, most are between 10 and 40 acres. All hold brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout and cut-throat trout along with the occasional tiger muskie. All of these lakes require property ownership or, if a long-term renter, membership fees. Regulations are strict and change according to conditions, so would-be fisher-folk are advised to check with the office regularly for any changes.

The six public lakes at Red Feather Lakes, owned by the State of Colorado, have more public information. All have different rules and require a Colorado fishing license. Statistics listed on the sidebar reflect Dowdy Lake as the largest.They are:

Dowdy Lake: elevation 8,120 feet, approximately 104 acres, shoreline of about three miles. The maximum depth of the lake is about 28 feet. Motorized boats are permitted. A day use area with a boat ramp and campground is located on the south shore.

Parvin Lake: 63 acres, no motors, no live bait, elevation 8,130 feet.

West Lake: 37 acres with campground, electric motors only, 8,240 feet elevation.

Bellaire Lake: 10 acres, elevation 8,640 feet, maximum depth 13 feet.

Creedmore Lake: 10 acres, elevation 8,254 feet.

Lost Lake- 7 acres, elevation 8,018 feet.

Vacation rentals around Red Feather Lakes are not hard to find. Besides the private homes and cabins rented by part-time residents, several organized groups offer a variety of rental options in a wide range of prices. The private golf and housing development also offers rental options which include the golf course and development services. Other lodging options, such as bed-and-breakfasts and guest ranches, can be found within a half-hour drive. Real estate is usually available in the area, often with lake views and sometimes with lake frontage. So, bring the trout gear, the dry-flies and waders. You’re in for the treat of a lifetime at Red Feather Lakes.

Things to do at Red Feather Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Red Feather Lakes

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Muskellunge
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Trout

Red Feather Lakes Photo Gallery

Red Feather Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Red Feather Storage and Irrigation Company

Surface Area: 120 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 8,120 feet

Maximum Depth: 28 feet

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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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