Arapaho National Recreation Area

view of lake from pine beach picnic area

Welcome to the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA) - a 35,000 acre scenic water wonderland in the upper reaches of the Colorado River Valley. The ANRA was established by Congress in 1978 and contains five major reservoirs: Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, Monarch Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir and Meadow Creek Reservoir. Grand Lake, adjacent to the ANRA, with its deep, clear blue waters, is the largest natural lake in Colorado. Together, the lakes and reservoirs are often referred to as the "Great Lakes of Colorado."

The ANRA is a world-class place to boat, camp, hike, fish, ice fish, snowmobile, view wildlife, horseback ride and hold events.

An ANRA vehicle pass is required for day. Learn more about how to purchase a pass and where it is required.

BOATING

Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Lake are open to motorized and non-motorized boats.  Willow Creek, Meadow Creek and Monarch Lake Reservoirs are open only to non-motorized boats. 

  • Boat ramps (offering Colorado State Mussel Inspections) for Lake Granby are available at Sunset Point and Stillwater (adjacent to each campground). 
  • A boat ramp (offering Colorado State Mussel Inspections) for Shadow Mountain Lake is available near the Green Ridge campground. 
  • Non-motorized boats (not requiring state inspections) may launch from Hilltop Boat Launch, near Grand Lake, and Willow Creek Boat Launch on Willow Creek Reservoir.
  •  Boating activities include pleasure boating, fishing, water skiing and tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.   
  • Various commercial marinas rent boats; contact the Grand Lake or Granby Chambers of Commerce for more information.  
  • State of Colorado boating regulations apply within the ANRA. 

CAMPING

The ANRA’s campgrounds include Arapaho Bay, Green Ridge, Sunset Point, Stillwater, Willow Creek, and the Cutthroat Group Campground.  Additional information on these campgrounds is available here.  

An ANRA vehicle pass is required  in addition to campground fees for campers.  Learn more about ANRA fees.

Dispersed camping is allowed near Meadow Creek Reservoir, along some of the eastern shore of Lake Granby (more information on lakeside dispersed camping is available from the Sulphur Ranger District office) and along other roads within the recreation area identified for dispersed camping on the Sulphur Ranger District Motor Vehicle Use Map.

FISHING 

Fly fishing on the Colorado River

Fishing is available on each of the lakes and on public land along creeks and rivers within the ANRA. Lake Granby is known for its kokanee salmon and trophy lake trout. Shadow Mountain Reservoir is stocked with brown and other trout species. Fly fishing opportunities are available along the Colorado River and other nearby creeks.  Fishing licenses are required per State of Colorado regulations and seasonal regulations exist on the Colorado River below Shadow Mountain Reservoir Dam. 

HIKING

 The Monarch Lake and Junco Lake trailheads within the ANRA are two of the primary entry points to the most popular wilderness area in the National Forest System – the spectacular Indian Peaks Wilderness.

The easy to moderate, four-mile circuit around Monarch Lake offers views up to the valleys and high points of the Indian Peaks Wilderness and is one of the area’s most popular hikes. 

The Shadow Mountain Dam Trailhead, accessed near the Green Ridge Campground, offers access to trails into Rocky Mountain National Park and along the Colorado River. (Please note: no dogs are allowed on National Park trails.) 

The Continental Divide Trail crosses the ANRA east of Lake Granby. 

EVENTS

The AA Barn, a historic, rustic barn on the banks of the rushing Colorado River, is a popular location for weddings, community and corporate events.  It is available by reservation from June through September.

The Cutthroat Group Campsite has shelters and may also be reserved for events. 

WILDLIFE VIEWING

Bird lovers enjoy watching the many osprey in the area.  Visitors can watch for them hovering over the water then plunging feet-first for fish, and for the body-parallel method osprey use to carry their prey (versus the perpendicular method eagles use to carry fish).  There is an osprey viewing platform and parking for it near the Green Mountain Campground, at the gated end of County Road 66.     

Bird watchers flock to Pine Beach to spy many different species of waterfowl and shorebirds.

Other types of wildlife that may be seen in the ANRA include birds like the Stellar's Jay, raven, western bluebird, ptarmigan, and mountain chickadee, and mammals including antelope, moose, deer, elk, bobcats, pine martens, mountain lions, squirrels, black bears and pika.  

Never feed or approach wildlife.  Keep a clean camp in order to ward off bears.  Be aware that moose can become aggressive and may be a bigger threat than bears, particularly around dogs.  More outdoor safety tips are available at the following link.

ANRA NEWSLETTER

Check our publications page for the latest edition.