Colorado’s Grand Mesa National Forest contains 300 lakes, making it a truly unique recreation spot in our landlocked state.
Families eager to fish, paddleboard, kayak, birdwatch, camp, and more can travel to the Grand Mesa to explore lakes, reservoirs, and a peaceful forest setting . Though there are many adventure opportunities, here are five of our favorite spots in this special part of the Western Slope.
Perhaps the most popular destination of the national park, the Mesa Lakes include eight reservoirs teeming with fish and campground options. The campgrounds include picnic tables, restrooms, and a small store, but be sure to check for closures before your trip.
For Western Slope anglers seeking a weekend getaway, these lakes are a great choice. There are seven kinds of trout in the Mesa’s reservoirs, and several lakes are Gold Medal certified. This means they’re recommended specifically for high-density trout fishing.
For travelers who prefer a more secluded retreat, the Trickle Park has a high number of campsites with fewer fishing options, so it tends to get less tourist traffic.
Be prepared to camp like a pro, though, because this portion of the national park does not include bathrooms or drinkable water nearby. Plan your supplies carefully and bring everything with you before leaving for the campground.
With a rockier terrain surrounding the reservoir, Granby is most well- known for its four-wheeling trail options.
The reservoir is also the second-largest body of water on the Western Slope. If you’re looking for a stay with several trail choices surrounding the water, this is the place for you. This location is also perfect for a family getaway, and you can even bring the dogs .
Waterdog Lakes Trail, a roughly three-mile path, surrounds Waterdog Reservoir. The terrain and backcountry location give the trail its “moderate” difficulty ranking. The trail is open year-round for anyone interested in turning a country hike into a snowshoeing opportunity. Within sight of the trail, you may also see deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and pine martens, though it’s recommended that you admire these Colorado residents from a distance.
The Cottonwood Lakes are also good for fishing, but getting to them is no easy task.
For a mixed adventure, you can ride a horse up to the lakes or hike. There are also a few 4x4 trails if you’d rather go straight to the lake to fish. Several species of birds frequent the lakes, which is why the Cottonwood Lakes are popular amongst birders.