Red Feather Lakes: Activities, Wildlife, and Conservation


Red Feather Lakes, located just an hour’s drive from Fort Collins, offers a stunning escape into the rugged wilderness of northern Colorado and the Roosevelt National Forest. With its pristine lakes, lush forests, and diverse wildlife, this hidden gem attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the state.


  • Red Feather Lakes is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.
  • The unique terrain and natural beauty of the area, including alpine lakes and diverse wildlife, make it a captivating destination for visitors.
  • Responsible tourism and conservation efforts are crucial to preserving the delicate ecosystem of Red Feather Lakes.

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Red Feather Lakes

The landscape of Red Feather Lakes is characterized by towering pines, serene lakes, and rolling hills. The best time to visit for optimal weather and scenic beauty is during the summer months when the wildflowers are in bloom and the lakes are perfect for swimming and fishing.

Conservation efforts play a vital role in maintaining the natural splendor of Red Feather Lakes. Visitors are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Hiking and Trail Adventures

Red Feather Lakes offers a network of popular hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. Some notable trails include:

  • Mount Margaret Trail: A challenging 6-mile round trip hike that rewards adventurers with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
  • Lady Moon Trail: An easy 2-mile loop that winds through aspen groves and offers glimpses of local wildlife.

When hiking in Red Feather Lakes, it’s essential to come prepared with appropriate gear, plenty of water, and a map or GPS device. Be mindful of your impact on the environment and stick to designated trails to minimize erosion and protect wildlife habitats.

Water-Based Activities

The crystal-clear lakes of Red Feather Lakes provide ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Anglers can try their luck at catching rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout in the well-stocked lakes.

Parvin Lake and Dowdy Lake are popular spots for kayaking and canoeing, offering serene waters and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Be sure to follow local regulations and obtain any necessary permits before engaging in water-based activities.

Wildlife and Nature Photography

Red Feather Lakes is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, deer, moose, and a variety of bird species. The area provides excellent opportunities for wildlife photography, but it’s crucial to practice ethical photography techniques.

When photographing wildlife, maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors. Use a telephoto lens to capture intimate shots without encroaching on their space. Remember, the well-being of the animals should always come first.

Camping and Overnight Stays

Red Feather Lakes offers a range of camping options, from primitive backcountry sites to established campgrounds with amenities. Some popular campgrounds include:

  • Bellaire Lake Campground: Offers 27 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets.
  • Dowdy Lake Campground: Features 100 sites with access to fishing, hiking trails, and boat rentals.

Before setting up camp, obtain any necessary permits and familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles. Practice proper food storage techniques to avoid attracting wildlife and minimize your impact on the environment.

Local Culture and Historical Sites

Red Feather Lakes has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s when it was a popular destination for logging and ranching. Today, the community celebrates its heritage through various cultural events and festivals.

The Red Feather Historical Society offers a glimpse into the area’s past, providing group tours focused on the unique history of the Red Feather Lakes region.


What is the best time of year to visit Red Feather Lakes for outdoor activities?

The summer months, particularly June through August, offer the best weather for outdoor activities in Red Feather Lakes. The wildflowers are in bloom, and the lakes are perfect for swimming and fishing.

Are there any specific permits required for fishing or camping in Red Feather Lakes?

Yes, depending on the specific location and activity, permits may be required for fishing and camping in Red Feather Lakes. Be sure to check with the local ranger station or visitor center for the most up-to-date information on permits and regulations.

What are some must-visit spots for first-time visitors to Red Feather Lakes?

Some must-visit spots for first-time visitors include Parvin Lake for fishing and boating, and the Mount Margaret Trail for stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

How can tourists contribute to conservation efforts in Red Feather Lakes?

Tourists can contribute to conservation efforts by practicing Leave No Trace principles, such as properly disposing of waste, minimizing campfire impacts, and respecting wildlife. Additionally, visitors can support local organizations dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of Red Feather Lakes.

What are the rules and etiquette for 4X and off-roading in the area?

When engaging in 4X and off-roading activities in Red Feather Lakes, it’s essential to stay on designated trails, avoid damaging vegetation, and respect other users. Always follow local regulations and obtain any necessary permits before heading out on the trails.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.