Horsetooth Reservoir is located in the foothills of Fort Collins. It was built to provide more adequate water irrigation for the Poudre Valley. There is even a Native American Legend regarding the rock from which Horsetooth got it’s name. With six and half miles of water and nearly 2,000 acres of public land, it’s perfect for boating, SUP, fishing, camping, mountain biking, hiking, or a picnic. Rock climbers and SCUBA divers are also welcome. At 5,420 feet elevation, there is no need to acclimate to the high altitude-at least for Colorado locals. Follow these directions to get there.
When you arrive you have to register your car, and there is a fee for day use as well as camping.
We camped here twice, and stayed in the cabins. There are also air streams, tent sites, and RV sites available. This one was of our first trip’s with our oldest son. The cabins were a great introduction to camping with kids since they have air conditioning and heat available. Being open year round, you can comfortably camp in the spring, summer and fall.
We fished, made meals and prepared kids for naps. With friends, we coordinated which family brought breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is when we started making these pancakes. Even though we cooked for a larger crowd than just our family, we only had to worry about packing for a couple meals. It’s nice to see what other people cook while camping to add a few more ideas to our usual list.
The big event was a hike to Horsetooth Falls. It is about 2.5 miles round-trip on easy to moderate terrain, and at the turnaround point there is a waterfall. The kids were under two and in backpacks, but I think this would be reasonable for young kids as long as they can walk that far. Leased dogs are welcome. I will say, we loved this trail, but it is no secret. It was crowded, and a little difficult to get a picture of the waterfall. I can see why, is there really anything better than a hike with a waterfall?
Keep in mind
Something to note is that camping at Horsetooth books up really quickly. Walk-up sites are available, but I wouldn’t count on it. Reservations open up six months in advance, and even then it’s hard to book something. We figured out that people are probably booking for a date during the week and through the weekend. So when you go to book six months in advance, it will be difficult to get a Friday and Saturday spot. If you book starting on a weekday, you will have more luck.
Why camp here
I like this campsite because there is so much to do. We wanted to rent a boat but the water had receded too far and they were restricting boat access. Inlet Marnia Bay is your spot to rent boats, canoes, SUP, and kayaks. We will have to come back to take advantage of the water.
It’s also close to town if you need to abort the trip for whatever reason. This is the first time we have done this, but we left the campsite twice-once to find a playground and once to watch a football game at local restaurant. Just a ten minute drive and you are back to nature.
There are showers and flush toilets available. It’s like it’s not even camping. The views and sunsets are also pretty great.