Required Inspections

To comply with regulations, Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake require mandatory vessel inspections. Inspectors are on-site at Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake to check boats for exotic invasive species. With no inspectors on-site at Pinewood Reservoir, the boat ramp for Pinewood Reservoir is closed and no trailered watercraft may be launched at Pinewood.

All watercraft including their motors, trailers, compartments and any other associated equipment or containers may be inspected for exotic invasive species (Aquatic Nuisance Species or ANS) before launch or departure from high risk waters. Exclusions include hand-launched rafts, kayaks, belly boats, float tubes, canoes, windsurfer boards, sail boards, stand-up paddleboards or inner tubes.

Recognizing the serious impact possible from ANS, and to prevent its spread by recreational boating or any other human means, Larimer County joins Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other waterway managers in a robust strategy designed to ensure sustainable recreational boating and other uses. The risk and cost are too high once ANS infestation has reached a critical level.

A boater may be denied access if not cooperating at an inspection point, or the boat may be placed under quarantine if inspectors think there is a serious risk of spreading ANS. Boaters circumventing the described procedures will be subject to fine.

Larimer County Department of Natural Resources' program complies with the Aquatic Nuisance Species Watercraft Inspection Handbook.

Colorado Boat Registration Information

Boating Access Hours

Every vessel entering Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake must be inspected for ANS. That requires specific hours of operation for boating. No boat launching is permitted outside of these hours; however, boats already on the reservoirs may continue operation.

Boat ramps are expected to open April 1, 2020, weather dependent.

Horsetooth Reservoir Boat Ramp Hours

Dec. 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020
South Bay ramp

Closed for the season

Inlet Bay ramp Closed for the season
Satanka ramp Closed for the season

Carter Lake Boat Ramp Hours

Dec. 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020
North ramp Closed for the season
North Pines ramp

Closed for the season

South Shore ramp

Closed for the season

View Horsetooth Reservoir South Bay Boat Ramp Webcam

Night Boating and Fishing

The South Bay ramp at Horsetooth Reservoir and North Pines ramp at Carter Lake have gate systems that allow vehicles to exit those boat ramps after hours. These gates allow vehicles to exit the areas where the ramps are located but not enter. Trailers must be parked at these ramps before hours end for the day.

Pinewood Reservoir Boat Ramp Closed

With no inspectors on-site at Pinewood Reservoir, the boat ramp for Pinewood Reservoir is closed and no trailered watercraft may be launched at Pinewood.

Boating Safety Information

Be safe out on the water! The safety of boaters and other visitors is paramount.

General Regulations

  • Life jackets of the appropriate size are required for each person on a boat and must be worn by children under the age of 13 at all times. In addition, a Type IV throwable PFD (personal floatation device) is required on boats longer than 16 feet.
  • Boats must travel in a counter-clockwise direction on Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. This means the nearest shore is always on the right.
  • An observer (in addition to the driver), with an orange or red flag, must be on the boat when towing a person on water skis or any other device.

Additional Tips

  • Always boat responsibly, including boating sober and following navigational rules.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear layers in cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.
  • All operators and passengers of personal watercraft and those being towed on any device need to be wearing a life jacket at all times.
  • File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the trip.
  • Don't exceed your boat’s capacity or the boat may become unstable and capsize.
  • Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out and keep a regular check for changing conditions.
  • Boats running on carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, produce carbon monoxide fumes. Beware of poisoning by carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting and chest pain.
  • Keep in touch with more than a cell phone. Satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), VHF radios and personal locator beacons can all contribute in an emergency situation.
  • Don't panic if you fall into the water. Stay afloat with the help of your life jacket, regain control of your breathing and keep your head above water in vision of rescuers. Stay with the boat if possible.
  • Carry a life jacket with you on your float tube. While you are not required to wear a life jacket in a float tube, it's always best to be as safe as possible.