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reservoir at north sterling state park

Sunset over the reservoir at North Sterling State Park. Photo: Park Facebook page

North Sterling State Park is a state park in Colorado located in Sterling, and is around 140 miles northeast of the city of Denver. The park offers archery, biking, birding, and boating with scenic views of North Sterling Reservoir.


There are a large variety of amusements available to North Sterling State Park visitors.

Here are several of the many activities at North Sterling park:

Boating At North Sterling State Park

North Sterling State Park offers 3,000 acres of water, creating a boating and fishing paradise. Activities can range from a quiet day of fishing to zipping along on waterskis, with plenty of lakefront for both activities to take place at the same time. The reservoir has several arms to it, each boasting different fishing, sailing, and birdwatching opportunities. Darby Arm is ideal for wiper fishing, while the Cunningham Arm is narrower and has more waterfowl.

The reservoir opens to boating in the spring and stays open until the end of October. During the warmer months, boating of all forms is allowed, as well as water skiing. However, keep in mind that parasailing or kite tubes are not allowed on the lake for safety reasons and that all boats must be inspected for aquatic nuisance species (ANS) before launch.

Swimming At North Sterling State Park

North Sterling State Park is home to Cottonwood Cove Swim Beach, which includes a pavilion and playground area. During the on-season, there are restrooms open at the swim beach, and the beach is open to swimmers of all ages. Keep in mind that there is no lifeguard at the state park and that all children should be accompanied by an adult when near or in the water. Also, pets are not allowed at the swim beach.

Hiking At North Sterling State Park

While boating may be the main attraction at North Sterling State Park, the park is home to 6.5 miles worth of trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels. These trails vary from general hiking trails to trails that lead to ideal hunting and fishing areas in the park.

Here are some of the trails at North Sterling State Park:

  • Overlook Loop Trail – This ADA-accessible trail begins at Inlet Grove Campground and takes a scenic tour near the reservoir. This hike is ideal for all skill levels and is especially breathtaking at sunset. Length: 0.7 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
  • Old Dam Trail – The Old Dam Trail leads to stretches of shoreline perfect for fishing, as well as incredible views along the park interior and shoreline. This trail has a minimal elevation gain, making it easy for most hikers. Length: 1.1 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
  • South Shoreline Trail – This is the longest trail at North Sterling State Park. Hikers can glimpse owls, eagles, turkeys, deer, badgers, and more from this wilderness trail. This trail is also favored for hunters and fishers, as it leads to more remote areas of the park and reservoir. Length: 3.6 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy

Biking At North Sterling State Park

Biking is allowed along all of the trails in North Sterling State Park, so long as the bikes are non-motorized. The South Shoreline Trail is the obvious favorite when it comes to mountain bike routes, but all trails through the park are open to riders, allowing riders to view several miles of breathtaking shoreline as they cruise through the park.

Horseback Riding At North Sterling State Park

Horseback riding is allowed on the South Shoreline Trail. Parking is available at the East Trailhead parking lot, however, there are no stables on the park premises, and there are no horses for rent in the park.

Archery At North Sterling State Park

The North Sterling State Park archery range has 11 stations and 18 targets, as well as ADA-accessible targets. There is no use fee to access the archery range, though it is worth noting that children 16 and under must have adult supervision, and there is no broadhead use allowed in the range.

Fishing At North Sterling State Park

With such a large amount of water surface area, it’s no surprise North Sterling State Park is home to excellent fishing. Wiper, walleye, catfish, rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and more can all be found in the reservoir, making this an ideal fishing location for fishermen of all skill levels and styles. Keep in mind that all local and state fishing permits and guidelines apply, and pay attention to bag limits in the park. For more information about fishing in the park, as well as an updated fishing location guide, check out the state park website.

Pets At North Sterling State Park

Dogs are welcome at North Sterling State Park, so long as they are on a 6-foot or shorter leash, their waste is properly disposed of, and they are not on the swim beach.

Horses are allowed for horseback riding along the South Shoreline Trail and the East Trailhead parking lot for horse trailer access. Keep in mind that there are no stables available in the park.

Camping At North Sterling State Park

North Sterling State Park offers 141 campsites across three campgrounds, with options for RV hookups as well as wilderness camping options. The park does welcome campers and their pets alike, so long as all pets are supervised and not left unattended. To make a reservation, or to choose a campsite, check out the North Sterling State Park website. Keep in mind that various amenities can be found at different campgrounds throughout the park and that walking distance and campsite layout can shift depending on the campsite you choose.

Park Location

North Sterling State Park
24005 CR 330
Sterling CO 80751
Phone: 970.522.3657



Below is a brief YouTube video showcasing several attractions at North Sterling State Park: