Red Feather Lakes

by K. Christopherson

Situated in far north Colorado, the Red Feather Lakes are often overlooked by anglers. These lakes, with good fishing opportunities and access, are known to generations of Coloradans who have frequencted the area for years. For the rest of us, Red Feather Lakes deserve a visit.

The Red Feather Lakes were 'created' in the early part of the 1900's by a then 'developer' as part of a mountain resort. Cabins and land were sold, with the lure of numerous outdoor activities and romanticized with Native American culture. There actually was a Princess Redfeather, a Native American from Oklahoma, who was a well-known operatic singer. In 1922, the developer for the resort area heard her sing....this inspired his for the name and theme of the Red Feather Lakes region.

Today the cabins remain. Nicer homes have been built. Yet the area is not touristy in the normal sense; it almost seems quaint and somewhat like you are stepping back in time 50 years or more.

At least 8 lakes comprise the Red Feather Lakes. Four are available for public fishing, with the rest private and available to Red Feather Lakes residents only. All four lakes are Colorado State Wildlife Areas, but lie mostly within Roosevelt National Forest. The public lakes are:
  • West Lake
  • Dowdy Lake
  • Parvin Lake
  • Lake Bellaire

Dowdy Lake

The largest lake at 112 acres, Dowdy offers fishing from shore and wakeless boating. Species = some rather large brookies along with rainbows, browns and cutts. State limits on take. It is fairly eay to fish from shore here (as it is at the other lakes). A USFS campground on the south side has 60 spaces for RVs and tents with electric hookups. CLICK HERE for info/reservations

Red Feather Lakes Colorado Fishing

Below is a panoramic photo of Dowdy

Red Feather Lakes Colorado Fishing

Parvin Lake

62 surface acres; artificial flies/lures only; 2 trout limit; float tubes only on lake; foot access to lake - check in at entrance station

Less pressure at this lake since you need to walk in (not that far). The access and 2-trout limit help keep the crowds down

West Lake

38 surface acres; state regs on limits; float tubes and wind/hand/electric-motor craft only

There is a USFS campground on the lake - reservations strongly advised. Electric hook-ups and tent sites are available. Reserve at Recreation.gov CLICK HERE for info/reservations

Red Feather Lakes fishing Colorado
Image courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Bellaire Lake

11 acres; state regs on limits; float tubes and wind/hand/electric-motor craft only

Bellaire Lake is south of the other lakes, and probably not officially a part of Red Feather Lakes. However, it offers a quieter setting as it is surrounded by National Forest. There is a nice handicap ramp and fishing piers. As with the other lakes, you have an opportunity to catch several species of trout in this lake.

There is a USFS campground on the lake - reservations strongly advised. Electric hook-ups and tent sites are available. Reserve at Recreation.gov CLICK HERE for info/reservations. There are also some good dispersed camping spots less than one mile south of the lake.

Red Feather Lakes Colorado Fishing

Below is a panoramic photo of Bellaire

Red Feather Lakes Colorado Fishing

Other places to fish

  • Lost Lakes: Northeast of Dowdy Lake about 3 miles
  • Creedmore Lake: About 4 miles north of Red Feather Lakes
  • Sheep and Cornelius Creeks, north of Red Feathers (flies/lures only; other special regs)
  • Poudre River - south of Bellaire Lake about 8 miles on County Rd 69. Parts of this road are STEEP and narrow.

Info:

The lakes are situated at over 8000 feet. Be aware if you are not used to high elevation, drink plenty of water.

Fishing Regulations: State limit on the lakes EXCEPT Parvin where there is a 2 trout bag and possession

There is a small grocery and gas station in town that has all sorts of supplies

Reservations at the campgrounds are done through Recreation.gov. Search for Red Feather Lakes in Colorado, and it will show you availability at West, Dowdy and Parvin

You can rent cabins in Red Feather Lakes - check places like vrbo.com or the Colorado Directory

Dispersed camping is allowed on the national forest lands surrounding the area.

Colorado fishing maps Click here to buy a topo map for this area. You need map 111 for this area. Map 112 covers the Poudre River south of Red Feather Lakes. Maps are produced by National Geographic Maps

Colorado Trout Fishing Book Click here to buy an Ebook about Trout fishing on Colorado State lands - includes  info about state lands and access for the Red Feather Lakes.

Getting there:

Red Feather Lakes are located northwest of Ft. Collins, and north of the Poudre River. Most direct route is Hwy 287 north from Ft. Collins, then turn west on Road 74E, Red Feather Lakes Road.