North of Jefferson, Colorado, Jefferson Lake invites visitors to a pristine mountain setting within the Pike National Forest. The Jefferson Lake Recreation Area is popular for fishing, camping, or simply getting some fresh air approximately 90 minutes from Denver.
The lake sits at around 10,700 feet in elevation and can become crowded during peak seasons. If you want to spend the night, we recommend booking your nearby campground as far in advance as possible.
History of Jefferson Lake
Originally, Jefferson Lake was formed by a rockslide. However, a dam was built over the rockslide in 1898, and later improved in the 1920s. Today, the lake is managed by Aurora Water, with the US Forest service maintaining the recreational facilities.
Activities at Jefferson Lake
Due to its proximity to Denver and sheer alpine beauty, Jefferson Lake is very popular for day trips and overnight outdoor adventures. Bathrooms and water are available near the boat launch and within the campgrounds. The region is surrounded by additional activities within the Pike National Forest.
Biking: From the Jefferson Lake Recreation Area, the West Jefferson Trail is popular for mountain biking to the top of the Great Continental Divide. The trail can be used in conjunction with the Colorado trail for an 11 mile loop.
Birding: For birders heading along US 285, the area’s many lakes and ponds present unique bird watching opportunities in Park County. Jefferson Lake is frequented by mountain bluebirds, grebes, duck, and finches.
Boating: The Jefferson Lake Boat Launch is located on the south side of the lake at the end of Jefferson Lake Road. Electric motors are permitted, but the lake is a no-wake zone. Non-motorized boats such as kayaks and canoes are also permitted.
Camping: A few miles downriver from Jefferson Lake, the Jefferson Creek, Lodgepole, and Aspen campgrounds are also available for staying overnight with a small fee. Each campground is equipped with bathrooms, water, tables, trash and fire rings. There are sites available large enough for RVs.
Fishing: Jefferson Lake is popular for summer fishing, and is also one of the first in the area to freeze over for winter ice fishing. Anglers generally report good conditions, with ample opportunity to catch rainbow trout and mackinaw among several other species.
Hiking: The Jefferson Loop and Jefferson Lake trails are popular for day hikes, offering moderate and easy journeys respectively around the lake. Backpacking is also available on the West Jefferson and The Colorado Trail.
Horseback Riding: For alpine equestrians, horseback riding is permitted on the West Jefferson and Colorado Trails.
Picnicking: 6 designated picnic sites can be found in the Jefferson Lake Picnic Area. Each has a picnic table, grill, and availability for parking.
Address: County Road 37 (Jefferson Lake Road), Jefferson, CO 80456
Season: Closed in the winter
Fees: Camping & day use fees