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Boulder Reservoir

Boulder Reservoir is a 700-acre, multi-use recreation and water-storage facility, owned and managed by the City of Boulder and operated as a water supply by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.  

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Boulder Reservoir open for passive recreation such as walking, running and biking, and the gates are currently closed effective March 16 through April 19. During this time, and to limit social spread of the novel coronavirus, we will not be staffing the front gate, issuing new watercraft permits or performing watercraft inspections, and as such, boating is not permitted. Please note also that for safety and sanitation reasons, portapotties will be locked/unavailable for use.

City of Boulder Coronavirus Information

Visitor Services Center Redevelopment

Construction of the new Boulder Reservoir Services Center is now underway. 

Visiting Boulder Reservoir

Hours and Fees

Gate Hours

Hours subject to change. .

 March 1- March 31

  • Incoming gate open: 9:00 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Outgoing gate closes: 5 p.m.

April 1 - April 30

  • Incoming gate open: 8:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Outgoing gate closes: 6 p.m.

May 1 - May 21

  • Incoming gate open: 7:00 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Outgoing gate closes: 7 p.m.

wim Beach is CLOSED for the season!

Entry Fees

Daily entry fees will be charged Friday, May 22, 2020 through Monday, September 7th, 2020. No daily entry fees are charged between Labor Day and memorial day weekend. Each person entering the park must pay the entrance fee. Fees are collected for each person entering Boulder Reservoir including runners, walkers and cyclists. Additional fees are charged for boat permits.

Daily Entry Fees

  • Enforcement: All visitors must comply with all park rules and all swimming and boating regulations. Boulder Police will be on site at times to help enforce park regulations and provide public safety and service as needed.
  • Rain Check/Refund Policy: No rain checks will be issued unless a facility is closed due to weather for two or more consecutive hours. No rain checks will be issued after 5 p.m.


If you are bringing a boat to Boulder Reservoir it must have a valid boat permit.  ONLY small craft permits are available for purchase on-site year-round. Please do not use this application for small watercraft permits, Small craft permits do not require an appointment or application, they are available for purchase on demand at the Reservoir. They are subject to availability. 

No wake Hours

All watercraft on Boulder Reservoir must remain wakeless with the exception of city-sanctioned activities and lake patrol operations.

  • Tuesday 5:30 a.m. -  noon
  • Wednesday 5:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.
  • Thursday 5 pm - 9 p.m.


Dogs are not allowed in the park May 15 through Labor Day.

Special Event Schedule and Closures Due to Events - 2020

Print Special Event Calendar pdf

Boat Permits

All watercraft including sailboats, power boats, kayaks, canoes, kite boards, sailboards, etc., are required to have a valid Boulder Reservoir permit. Small watercraft permits do not require an application, they are available at the Reservoir any time during our business hours.   2020  Small watercraft permits are now available for purchase at the front gate any time during our regular business hours. This will be subject to availability.  

Boat Rentals

Rocky Mountain Paddleboards rents watercraft at the Boulder Reservoir, including kayaks, stand up paddleboards and more. Please see their website for reservations and hours of operation.

A valid driver's license/valid ID is required for all rentals. You must be at least 16 years old to rent watercraft without a parent present.  


Swimming Area ( Open Memorial Day to Labor Day )

The Swim Area is closed for the season!

The swimming area hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with some exceptions. Hours are subject to change.

Boulder Reservoir offers a seasonally lifeguard attended swimming beach in Colorado. It features a marked swim area with rafts. The shallow roped off area is great for small children. Children 12 and under must pass a lifeguard administered swim test to go beyond the first rope. 

Open Water Swims

Open Water Swim Opportunities at the Boulder Reservoir:

We will provide open water swim opportunities for the general public on Wednesday, June 5th and Friday, June 7th and July 31st. There will be one on August 2 for Ironman participants only. These swims will be 7am-9am. The cost for that swim is $15.00. Last lap must be started by 8:30 am.

For additional open water swim water swim opportunities, please see:


Water Testing

We test reservoir water weekly to ensure bacteria levels are below the standard set by the Colorado Department of Public Health. Additionally, all Boulder drinking water is treated to meet safe drinking water standards prior to distribution for household use.

Emergency Training Drills

  • Mock emergency training drills may be conducted weekly to ensure the readiness of reservoir staff to respond to injuries and water safety emergencies. These drills will be conducted under the supervision of management staff and will not be announced to lifeguard or safety staff in advance. An announcement will be made at the conclusion of the drill to notify patrons that the situation was only a training exercise and not an actual emergency.
  • These drills are conducted to ensure visitor safety. Please be aware that you may be asked to cooperate with safety personnel during mock or actual emergency situations.

General Rules

No person shall swim outside the designated swimming area. Swimming is not allowed off ski docks or anywhere in reservoir except for the designated swim area while lifeguards are on duty.

Shallow water is designated by red buoys. Swim tests will be administered by a lifeguard for permission to swim outside of shallow area.

Minimum water temperature to open swim area: 60˚F for the shallow water area to open and 64˚F for the entire swim area to open.

THURSDAYS:  Beach will close at 5:30 p.m. for weekly Stroke and Stride events.

PLEASE NOTE:  The beach may be closed at any time due to weather or for other health/ safety concerns.

Lifeguards: The swimming beach is staffed by open water certified lifeguards during seasonal, open beach hours only. Swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are present and on duty. Please feel free to approach lifeguard staff that are NOT monitoring the water if you have any needs or concerns.

Facilities: There are restrooms, shower and changing facilities located in the main building by the beach area.

Food: A food, snack and drink concession is also located in the main building above the swimming beach. The concession will be open during beach hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Weather Safety

Weather at the Boulder Reservoir and along the Rocky Mountain Front Range is unpredictable and can change rapidly, becoming dangerous to boaters, swimmers and other visitors. Be aware of rapid cloud build-up, drop in temperature and sudden changes in wind direction or speed as these may signal the arrival of dangerous weather conditions.

Please be advised of the following weather safety policies:

LIGHTNING:  When lightning is seen or thunder is heard near the reservoir it will close. It is strongly recommended that people take immediate shelter in their cars. It is not safe to take shelter under a tent, tree or building, or anywhere within 100 feet of the shore when lightning is present. The reservoir will typically reopen thirty (30) minutes after the last audible thunder is heard or lightning seen.


Reservoir Caution/Bad Weather Flag (a red, triangular flag)
This flag is displayed to indicate imminent or existing weather conditions which are or may become dangerous. Swimmers are  REQUIRED  to get out of the water immediately. Boaters are strongly encouraged to get off or out of the water as quickly as possible.

Reservoir Closed Flag (a red, square flag with a black square in the middle).
This flag is displayed when severe weather or emergency conditions exist and pose a hazard to your safety or the safety of others. During this display, all boaters and swimmers are  REQUIRED  to get off or out of the water immediately.

If lightning is present when either flag is displayed, we strongly urge visitors to take shelter in their cars. When flags are removed, the reservoir is reopened.

Alcohol at the Reservoir

Patrons of legal age may possess and consume alcoholic beverages in the park between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Glass containers are not allowed in the park.

You must be 21 years of age to consume alcohol and must have proper identification available to confirm age when requested. All state and local laws apply to the consumption of alcohol and will be strictly enforced. It is illegal to operate a vehicle or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Lost and Found

Lost and found items will be kept at the Front gate.


The City of Boulder encourages all park visitors to help reduce landfill waste by recycling appropriate plastic, paper and metal containers in the recycling containers provided (remember: glass containers are not permitted at the reservoir).

The Boulder Reservoir is striving to become a zero-waste facility! Please help us by doing your part. Please compost food waste (including paper plates, napkins and "corn starch" cutlery). We encourage guests to bring and use special "compostable" plastic ware and discourage the use of non-recyclable Styrofoam, plastic cups and other utensils.


Groups of 10 or more require a reservation to ensure staffing levels are adequate. If a group of 10 or more arrives without a reservation, they may be asked to leave.

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Swim Reservation Request

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Children under 3 years old must wear swim diapers; regular disposable diapers are prohibited on children in the water. Children 5 years old and under must be within arm's reach of an adult when in the water or near the water's edge.

Flotation devices are allowed only at the discretion of the lifeguards/beach staff.

Water Temperature

The water temperature fluctuates daily.  We do not typically consistently take a water temperature during our off-season hours.  Please call the front gate for the most current water temperature at 303-441-3461.


We do not currently have a concessionaire in place. Rocky Mountain Paddleboard will be selling some small snacks and we will occasionally have food trucks on site. 

More information

Camps, picnics and events


We offer water sports, sailing and windsurfing summer camps for kids!

Picnic Reservations

PICNIC PACKAGES HAVE CHANGED! PLEASE READ PACKAGE DESCRIPTIONS CAREFULLY. The Boulder Reservoir is a beautiful setting for a summer party. You may reserve picnic areas from late April through September. We have 9 locations available for rent. We'll do the set-up, you just arrive and enjoy!

PLEASE NOTE: Construction of the new Boulder Reservoir Visitor Services Center is in progress.  
During construction, the swim beach, boating and other activities are operating; however, intermittent disruptions to amenities including beach closures may occur. Temporary showers/changing facilities, restrooms and hand-washing stations are available, provided through portable units. No concessions are on-site. You also may experience construction noise and limited airborne dust during your visit. We ask that you please pardon our appearance during this time. 

Picnic reservations are accepted for private parties only.  If the gathering is open to the public and/or admission fees will be assessed by the organizer, please use the  Special Event Application .

Hosting a Special Event

We are proud to host a variety of special events that contribute to the individual, social, economic and environmental health and well-being of the community.  

What is a Park Special Event?

A Park Special Event is an activity taking place in a park, including Valmont Bike Park and the Boulder Reservoir, by an organized assembly of more than 50 people that meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • Event is open to the public;
  • Alcohol sales;
  • Amplified sound (excluding announcements and boom boxes);
  • Includes a tent larger than 400 square feet.

FAQs, planning, email list and contact information


Does my kayak need a boat permit?
Yes, all watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, wind- and kite-boards will 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

Is alcohol allowed at the reservoir?
Yes, alcohol is allowed at the reservoir, as long as it is not in a glass container. No glass is allowed at Boulder Reservoir. All local and state laws apply. In some cases, a permit may be required for alcohol, depending on the party size and types of alcohol involved. Outside alcohol is prohibited on July 4.

Why can't I bring my dog to the reservoir?
Dog are only allowed on the south shore during the off-season, from Labor Day to May 15. Dogs are allowed outside the south shore area on established trails and roads year-round, but leash laws do apply. 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:

Can I swim when the beach is closed?
No, the only swimming that is allowed at the Boulder Reservoir is at the designated swim area when lifeguards are on duty. Open-water swims are usually offered weekly in the summer. See the "swimming" tab above for more information.

What is the water temperature?
The water temperature varies quite a bit with the weather. For current water temperatures, please call 303-441-3461 and press "0" to reach the gate attendant.

Do you have a concession stand?
Yes, the concession stand is located in the main building near the swim beach. Menu + more information

What is the policy on lightning?
The swim beach will be cleared and all rental boats 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 is detected (seen or heard).
Additionally, 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.

How do I reserve a picnic spot?
Visit the  Reservoir Picnics  page to see the information packet, check availability and use the Boulder Reservoir Picnic Application to request a reservation online.

Can I rent a grill if I don't reserve a picnic site?
Depending on site and grill availability, the cost is $40 for the day and includes a fire extinguisher. You must provide your own charcoal, utensils and lighter fluid.

Does the reservoir offer sailing classes?
Yes, sailing classes and camps are offered for ages seven to adult. For more information, view the  Recreation Guide  or contact  Community Sailing of Colorado , 303-757-7718.

What are the boating rules?
Most importantly, abide by lake patrol's requests. Failure to do so may put your boating privileges in jeopardy. Please review and abide by all  State of Colorado Boating Rules and Regulations  and  City of Boulder Parks and Recreation - Reservoir Rules, Safety and Policies .

Is there fishing at the Boulder Reservoir?
Fishing is allowed at the Boulder Reservoir. However, you may only fish from the designated fishing dock, shore or a boat. All State of Colorado Fishing Regulations apply.

Why do runners and bikers have to pay to enter the park?
Parks and Recreation charges a park entry fee at the gate, regardless of the method of transportation. The fees collected are used for the Boulder Reservoir amenities and maintenance; including toilets, trash, water fountains and safety services.

If I own a business inside the Boulder city limits, can I get resident rates for boat permits?
No, your boat permit rates are based on your residence.


The Reservoir is Changing

We want your input! Help plan the future of the Boulder Reservoir. Take the Boulder Reservoir planning survey to give us your opinion, sign up to receive project updates, and be entered to win a prize.
Boulder Reservoir Planning Information

Receive email updates on Boulder Reservoir Events and Scheduled Closures

Location, Staff and Contact Information


Reservoir Contact Information

General Information, Front Gate 303-441-3461, press "0" for a gate attendant. [email protected]
Reservoir Fax Line 303-441-1807  
Stacy Cole, Reservoir Manager 303-441-3469 [email protected]
Matt Soderberg, Reservoir Assistant Manager 303-441-3457 [email protected]
Lena Dow, Program Coordinator 303-441-1806 [email protected]
Boat Permits    
Picnic Reservations 303-441-3247 [email protected]
Boat House 303-441-3468  
Maintenance 303-441-3456  

Staff hours vary.