Boating At John Martin Reservoir: Activities & Tips


John Martin Reservoir, a sprawling 19,000-acre body of water, is a true gem in the heart of Southeastern Colorado. This serene oasis attracts nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers from far and wide, offering diverse recreational opportunities amidst its picturesque landscapes.


  • John Martin Reservoir is a premier destination for boating, water sports, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Colorado's John Martin Reservoir State Park.
  • The reservoir boasts excellent conditions for waterskiing, windsurfing, and sailing, catering to thrill-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.
  • Anglers can enjoy a bountiful catch, with the reservoir teeming with walleye, bass, wiper, crappie, perch, and catfish.

Boating and Water Sports Paradise

John Martin Reservoir is a true haven for boating and water sports enthusiasts. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, its vast expanse of water and favorable weather conditions create an ideal playground for a wide range of aquatic adventures. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of waterskiing, the serenity of sailing, or the adrenaline rush of windsurfing, this reservoir has something to offer everyone.

The reservoir’s calm waters and gentle breezes provide the perfect setting for leisurely boating excursions, allowing visitors to soak in the stunning natural beauty that surrounds them. For those seeking a more exhilarating experience, the reservoir’s open waters offer ample space for high-speed water sports and adrenaline-fueled activities.

Swimming is permitted below the John Martin Dam, but no lifeguard is on duty. So, swimming is at your own risk, and children under 12 must be supervised while in the water.

If you don’t have a boat, no worries! Boat rentals are available at John Martin Reservoir so you can join in the boating fun.

Angler’s Delight

John Martin Reservoir is a true angler’s paradise, boasting diverse fish species that thrive in its waters. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice seeking a memorable fishing adventure, this Colorado State Park reservoir promises to deliver an unforgettable experience.

The reservoir is home to a variety of prized game fish, including walleye, bass, wiper, crappie, perch, and catfish. Anglers can cast their lines from the shoreline or venture out onto the water in boats, increasing their chances of landing a trophy catch. For a change of scenery, you can also fish from the shores of nearby Lake Hasty.

Wildlife Watching and Birdwatching Haven

John Martin Reservoir is not just a playground for water sports enthusiasts and anglers. Like many Colorado parks, it’s also a haven for wildlife and birdwatching enthusiasts. The reservoir’s diverse habitats and abundant water sources attract a wide range of avian species, making it a prime destination for birdwatchers.

Visitors can witness majestic bald eagles soaring overhead or glimpse the elusive piping plover and least tern, threatened species that find refuge in the reservoir’s protected areas. The reservoir’s tranquil surroundings also provide ample opportunities for observing other wildlife, such as deer, coyotes, and various reptiles and amphibians.

Camping and Outdoor Recreation

For those seeking a more immersive experience, John Martin Reservoir offers ample camping and outdoor recreation opportunities. The reservoir’s campgrounds provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories. The best camping spots for shade and amenities are at the Lake Hasty Campground.

Hikers can explore the reservoir’s scenic trails, taking in breathtaking vistas and discovering hidden gems along the way. For those seeking a more interactive adventure, the reservoir’s newly introduced geocaching program offers a unique way to explore the park’s nooks and crannies while engaging in a modern-day treasure hunt.


The following FAQs provide information visitors should have before boating at John Martin Reservoir or visiting John Martin State Park.

What is the best time of year to visit John Martin Reservoir?

John Martin Reservoir offers excellent recreational opportunities year-round, but the peak season for boating, water sports, and fishing is typically from late spring through early fall when the weather is warm and sunny.

Are there any fees or permits required for activities at John Martin Reservoir?

Yes, visitors must purchase a daily or annual park pass, and fishing licenses are necessary for anglers. Additionally, boat inspections for aquatic nuisance species are mandatory during the boating season.

Is there camping allowed at John Martin Reservoir?

Yes, you can make reservations at two campgrounds: Lake Hasty Campground and The Point Campground.

Can I bring my own watercraft to John Martin Reservoir?

Absolutely! The reservoir welcomes visitors to bring their own boats, kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft. However, all vessels must be inspected for aquatic nuisance species before launching from one of the lake’s three boat ramps.

Are there any guided tours or programs available at the reservoir?

While there may not be regularly scheduled guided tours, the park staff often organizes special events and programs throughout the year, such as stargazing nights, nature walks, and educational seminars. Check with the visitor center for the latest offerings.

Can I fish from the shoreline at John Martin Reservoir?

Yes, shoreline fishing is permitted and can be an excellent way to enjoy the reservoir’s angling opportunities without a boat. However, be sure to obtain the necessary fishing licenses and follow all regulations.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.