There are an amazing number of things to do available to Highline Lake State Park visitors.
Here are some highlights of the many activities at Highline Lake park:
Boating At Highline Lake State Park
Highline State Park is home to two lakes: the aptly named Highline Lake and Mack Mesa Lake. Highline Lake welcomes power boaters, jet skiers, sailboaters, water skiers, sailboarders, and paddleboarders during the warmer months of the year. However, Mack Mesa Lake is only open to paddleboards and hand or electric motorboats. Diesel or gas-powered boats are not allowed on Mack Mesa Lake.
Visitors should keep in mind that weekends and holidays are high traffic times on Highline Lake and that the area routinely reaches boat capacity. However, weekdays and evening boaters will find the lake largely empty and can enjoy the still stretches of water largely undisturbed.
Swimming At Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake is open to swimmers during the summer months, however, all swimmers must stay within the buoyed area of the beach. The beach area has plenty of turf and shaded areas to relax on and escape the sun. Keep in mind that no Colorado State Parks have lifeguards on duty and that all children should be supervised by an adult while swimming or near water.
Picnicking At Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake State Park has 44 family picnic areas that are first-come-first-serve. These locations have grills and tables accessible depending on the site and are nearby sandy, shaded areas so that you can enjoy the shoreline or build a sandcastle after you are finished with your meal.
There is a group picnic area that can hold up to 150 people and must be reserved in advance. The area has electricity and amenities to host a large event and can be used for weddings, group gatherings, educational settings, and more. Be sure to check out the park website to find out more information and to make a reservation.
Hiking At Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake State Park is home to several hiking and biking trails, which can take visitors to hidden areas of the desert, or along the outside of the shoreline. With a variety of trails for each difficulty and area, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Here are some of the trails at Highline Lake State Park:
- Highline Lake Trail – This unpaved trail follows the edge of the lake, and begins at the East Boat Ramp. Not only can visitors appreciate local birds and catch sight of mule deer along the trail, but bikers and hikers can also extend their route by taking one of the many connecting trails that branch off into various sections of the park. Length: 3.3 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
- East Bluffs Loop – This trail brings visitors by the cabanas to the east of the lake, and even features a pebble beach. While this trail is shaded in portions, it does have some steep areas, so it best to come prepared for a moderate desert hike. Length: 1.1 miles Degree of Difficulty: moderate
- 18 Hour Loop – This loop has been increased by almost a full mile by the addition of the Engle Loop, and is famous for its use in the 18 Hour Race, part of the Fruita Fat Tire Festival. Keep in mind this is a challenging hike, and that hikers should be come prepared for varying elevations and difficulties along each leg of the trail. Length: 6.42 miles Degree of Difficulty: challenging
Biking At Highline Lake State Park
Bikers can take advantage of miles of trails throughout Highline Lake State Park, and can even attempt the 18 Hours of Fruita at Highlight Lake, which is almost 7 miles long. Keep in mind that pedestrians do have access to the trails throughout the park, and that mountain bikers should be aware of the various restrictions on each trail before taking to the road.
Fishing At Highline Lake State Park
Both Highline Lake and Mack Mesa Lake are peak fishing locations, with trout fishing hitting its peak in the Spring. Largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, and more make their home in the two lakes, and there are worms and bait available for purchase at the Visitor Center in the park. Keep in mind all bag limits for the area, and be sure to follow all state and local fishing regulations before casting your line.
Birding At Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake State Park is a peak birding area, as noted by the National Audubon Society. With over 200 species of birds recorded in the park, including rare species, birders ranging from beginner to expert are sure to find themselves enraptured by the various raptor species that make their home in the park. Lucky birders can spot the Vermilion Flycatcher, bald and golden eagles, Cooper’s hawks, and more depending on the season. The various hiking trails also function as nature trails, allowing you to see more of the park up close and personal.
Geocaching At Highline Lake State Park
Highline Lake State Park is home to thirteen different Geocaches, which are meticulously maintained by volunteers in the park. Make sure to follow all instructions and replace anything taken from the caches themselves. For those looking to take part in the world’s largest scavenger hunt, check out the park’s website to find out more information as well as starting coordinates.
Winter Activities At Highline Lake State Park
Hunting is allowed within the park for small game and waterfowl during the appropriate season. As with any state park hunting, proper licensing and permits are required before hunting, and hunters are expected to know bag limits and hunting areas before taking to the park.
For those interested in winter activities, there is ice fishing and ice skating at the lakes once they have frozen over for the winter. It is worth noting that one should always exercise caution when walking on a frozen lake, and that ice fishers are expected to follow all permit restrictions and catch size guidelines put forth by the park.
Pets At Highline Lake State Park
Dogs are welcome in the park, so long as they are kept leashed on a six-foot or shorter leash, their waste is disposed of, and they are not left unattended. Dogs are allowed to swim at any location in the park except for the swim beach.
Camping At Highline Lake State Park
There are plenty of camping opportunities available at Highline Lake State Park, including the Mancos Group Camping Area, which is specifically intended for large groups of people. Keep in mind that all camping locations should be reserved in advance. However, there are plenty of powered, unpowered, and RV-accessible campsites throughout the park, as well as winter camping. No matter your preferred camping style, Highline Lake State Park is sure to have a campsite that fits your unique needs.
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Highline Lake State Park: