Boulder Parks and Recreation rangers regularly patrol the Boulder Reservoir to enforce rules and educate the public. The list of rules below is a summary and not exhaustive. Please refer to the Boulder Municipal Code for specific laws. The public must also follow all local, state and federal laws.

General Park Rules


Glass containers and bottles are prohibited.


Dogs are prohibited through the gates or anywhere along the south shoreline of the reservoir beginning May 15 and through Labor Day. During the off-season when dogs are allowed, Boulder leash laws and pet waste removal requirements apply. All dogs must be on a leash at all times; the voice and sight tag program is not valid on the south shore.


Camping or leaving vehicles inside the gate overnight is prohibited. Gates will be closed at the posted time. Vehicles inside the gate will be locked in overnight and be ticketed.


  • Fires are prohibited.
  • Personal charcoal and wood burning grills are prohibited.
  • Personal propane grills are allowed for grilling and cooking
    with the following fire safety rules:
    • There must be one 20-pound "ABC" fire extinguisher accompanying each propane grill. Each extinguisher must be placed no closer than 10 yards and no further than 15 yards from each grill and must be readily accessible to any user. Certified extinguishers may be rented from the Boulder Reservoir.
    • Propane grills or tanks may NOT be placed or used under any type of picnic shelter, canopy or tent.
    • Multiple grills must be positioned either end-to-end or side-to-side, no less than 10 feet apart. Spare propane tanks must be stored at least 20 ft. away from any grill.
    • If you would like to use a charcoal grill one may be rented from the front gate.


Swimming is prohibited outside the designated swimming area.


Smoking is prohibited on all Boulder Reservoir grounds including cigarettes, cigars, marijuana and e-cigarettes.


All vehicles must remain on designated roads and parking areas at all times. Driving off-road or on any grass area is prohibited. Repair of property due to vehicle damage will be billed to the vehicle's owner.


Consuming alcohol at private functions is allowed. Operating a vehicle or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. Glass containers are prohibited at the reservoir. Outside alcohol is prohibited on July 4. All state and local laws apply to the consumption of alcohol and will be strictly enforced.

Litter & Recycling

Please dispose of all trash and recyclable containers properly. Leaving litter on the beach or park grounds is prohibited.

Noise and Sound Amplification

Music or other amplified sound is only allowed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Excessive or disruptive music or sound may be restricted at the discretion of reservoir staff to preserve the peace and comfort of all visitors.


Hitting golf balls within the park is prohibited.

Events and Gatherings

Any athletic, recreational, social event or gathering of more than 50 people (including potential spectators and participants) requires a permit.


Fishing at the reservoir is regulated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A state fishing license is required.


All children 10 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult at all times while at the reservoir.


Horses are prohibited at the reservoir.

Basic Boating Rules

Boat Permits

All watercraft require a valid Boulder Reservoir boating permit for use at the reservoir.

Boat Permits


All boaters are required to know and obey all safe boating rules and regulations at the Boulder Reservoir. This includes motor, wind or human-powered boaters. You are operationally and legally responsible for your safety and the safety of your passengers. Many boaters assume they are safe because they are experienced, are on a relatively small body of water or because they are good swimmers. Don't take your safety for granted - be aware of unsafe weather conditions and water temperatures, wear PFDs and operate your craft safely at all times.

Safe Operation

Operating a watercraft in a reckless or negligent manner or in any way that endangers the safety of any person is prohibited.


Alcohol is the number one contributor to boating-related accidents and deaths. Operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.

Obey Signs and Requests

Boaters must obey all regulatory signs and requests by lake patrol and reservoir staff.

Colorado Boater Safety

Boaters are required to know and obey all current Colorado boating statutes and regulations.

Personal Flotation Devices

All boats must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices (PFDs) appropriate for each passenger. Wear your PFD! Accidents, cold water temperatures and sudden changes in wind or weather are leading causes of serious boating injures and deaths on mountain and Front Range waterways. Wearing a PFD can save your life.

Report Incidents

Boaters must report all incidents that result in property damage or personal injury to the reservoir staff. Boaters are urged to report any incident of unsafe boating to staff as well.


Wind and weather at the Boulder Reservoir can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Check boat launch area weather flags, current weather conditions at the reservoir's south gate and NOAA weather radio (for forecast) prior to boating. Be aware of cloud build up, sudden changes in temperature, wind direction or wind speed. Return to the marina or get to shore before weather becomes unsafe. Obey all weather warnings and safety closures.

Clean Your Boat

All boats and water contact equipment must be thoroughly cleaned prior to entering the Boulder Reservoir to prevent the introduction of non-native aquatic species.

ANS Watercraft Protocol PDF

Litter and Waste

Dumping, disposing of or discharging wastes or refuse, including human waste, in the water is prohibited.

Swimming Off the Boat

Swimming is only allowed in designated swimming area, while lifeguards are on duty. Swimming is not allowed off your boat and prohibited elsewhere.

No Wake Hours

No wake hours are change seasonally and are available on the boat permits page.

Ski Only Days

New this year! Tuesday and Thursday will be ski only days, outside of existing no wake hours. No wakeboarding or wake surfing will be allowed.


Yes, all watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, wind- and kite-boards, and stand up paddle boards (SUP) require a boat permit to launch on the Boulder Reservoir. The reason for this requirement is to allow better communication with all boaters about special events, water safety and aquatic nuisance species issues.

Due to statewide concerns about transporting harmful plant and animal species from one body of water to another, please clean your vessel thoroughly and let it dry for at least 10 days before bringing it to the Boulder Reservoir. Please read the aquatic invasive species information and follow the precautions to protect Boulder Reservoir from long-term water quality and ecological damage.

Boat Permits

Please help us protect our water resources from the spread of additional harmful plants, animals and other organisms by properly cleaning and de-contaminating your boat, trailer and other personal gear prior to arriving at the Boulder Reservoir (and before using your equipment in other waterways).

Invasive, non-native species of aquatic plants, animals and organisms are increasingly being transported between bodies of water in Colorado and across the U.S. by unsuspecting boaters and other waterway users. Many of these "aquatic hitchhikers" cause serious impacts on our fisheries, eco-systems and water supplies.

These aquatic nuisance species can hitch a ride on our clothing, boats and items used in the water. When we go to another lake or stream, the nuisance species can be released. And, if the conditions are right, these introduced species can become established, creating undesirable consequences.

More Information

At this time, the city and Northern Water are not planning to make any changes to water supply operations or recreation activities at the Reservoir. The city will continue to run its existing watercraft inspection and decontamination program and implement the following additional precautionary measures to minimize EWM’s spread and educate Reservoir visitors:

  • City staff will continue to inspect large watercraft exiting the Reservoir. Boaters will receive a blue paper receipt indicating that their boat was last inspected at an ANS-positive body of water.
  • City staff will inspect small watercraft exiting the Reservoir, as allowed, and educate visitors about EWM.
  • Watercraft are not allowed on the North shore. Anyone with watercraft or a flotation device in this area and around Coot Lake will be issued a summons with a potential fine.
  • Signage about EWM will be posted around the Reservoir.

More information on aquatic nuisance species at the Boulder Reservoir

No. The use of PWCs such as jet skis, e-foils and jetboards or other personal water craft is prohibited for safety reasons. Jet skis are only allowed by/for the use of the reservoir water safety staff.

The City of Boulder permits class 1 and class 2 e-bikes on sidewalks (except in dismount zones), multi-use paths, bike lanes and streets. This includes bike paths at Boulder Reservoir, Coot Lake and Valmont Bike Park.

Dogs are only allowed on the south shore during the off-season, from Labor Day to May 14. Dogs are allowed outside the south shore area on established trails and roads year-round, but leash laws do apply. There is a city code in place that prohibits dogs from May 15 through Labor Day. The potential for conflicts during the busy season on the south shore makes dog management difficult, and thus it is not allowed. As always, guardians are responsible for picking up after their dogs.

Voice and Sight Tag Program

Lost and found items are kept at the front gate.

You may only swim during lifeguarded, designated swim times, and only in the designated swim area. When the swimming is closed, the beach may be open for walking, picnics and sunbathing.

Reservoir Swimming

One option is weekly Stroke and Stride events hosted by Without Limits. More information

The water temperature varies quite a bit with the weather. We typically only record water temperatures June-August. We will post a weekly average water temperature here during those months.

The swim beach will be cleared and all rental boats and user groups will be brought to shore in the event of lightning or thunder. The beach and rental operations will remain closed until 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder is detected (seen or heard).
Additionally, lifeguards will put up a red flag at the lifeguard shack during swim area hours and lake patrol will put up the storm warning flag (a red triangle) at the boathouse. During these times, reservoir staff recommends all boats return to shore and wait out the storm, as lake patrol staff will be coming off the water, and patrons will be boating at their own risk.

No. Camping is not allowed at the Boulder Reservoir.

Visit the reservoir picnic page to see site descriptions, options and fees, and use the Boulder Reservoir Picnic Application to request a reservation online.

Depending on site and grill availability, the cost is $40 for the day and includes a fire extinguisher. You are only allowed to bring in personal grills if they are propane, and you must bring a fire extinguisher. If you rent one of our grills, you must provide your own charcoal, utensils and lighter fluid.