Georgetown Lake, Colorado Guide: Wildlife Spotting, Fishing, & Hiking

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Colorado and bustling I-70, Georgetown Lake emerges as a true gem offering stunning scenery and abundant recreational opportunities.

Whether you’re yearning for the sight of majestic Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep gracefully roaming the rugged landscape, seeking a relaxing hike along the calm lake waters, or eager to cast a line and reel in the day’s catch, this lake has something for you.

Below, I’ll break down everything you need to know about Georgetown Lake, including how to enjoy your time there.

What is Georgetown Lake?

Georgetown Lake is a reservoir located in Clear Creek County, Colorado that’s a popular destination for wildlife spotting, fishing, boating, hiking, and some gnarly winter activities like ice racing.

Georgetown Lake

Where is Georgetown Lake?

Georgetown Lake is located in Clear Creek County, Colorado, about 45 miles west of Denver, right along Interstate 70.

You can find parking on different sides of the lake but mostly on the I-70 side.

Directly off Argentine Street, you’ll find a couple of different gravel parking lots, including some by the Georgetown Lake Bathrooms and the Wildlife Viewing Area. There are also spaces on the south side of the lake, near 22nd St.

On the other side of 22nd St., you’ll find the White Reservoir, which is a smaller lake that is surrounded by residential buildings including homes, condos, and a hotel.

Related: Discovering the Beauty of Lake Estes: A Guide to Scenic Trails and Wildlife Encounters

Georgetown Lake activities

Wildlife viewing

Georgetown Lake might be one of the best places in Colorado to spot Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Colorado’s state animal.

The bighorn sheep, scientifically known as Ovis canadensis, are known for their impressive size, strength, and distinctive curved horns that adorn both males (rams) and females (ewes).

They are perfectly adapted to the rugged mountainous terrain and there are over 7,000 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Colorado.

Georgetown Lake bighorn sheep

The bighorn sheep found in the cliffs above the lake are members of the Georgetown herd, a native population that has thrived here for generations.

It is believed that around 400 of these magnificent creatures call this region home, and efforts have been made to relocate some individuals to different areas in order to support their population growth and ensure their long-term survival.

Georgetown Lake bighorn sheep
Georgetown Lake bighorn sheep

The fall and the winter are supposedly the best times of year to observe bighorn sheep, particularly around the rut season when they gather in herds and are easier to spot. But we saw plenty in of sheep in June.

In terms of the best time of day, typically you’ll want to view during morning and late afternoon but we also had a lot of success near sunset.

At the lake, you’ll find a raised observation deck with a panoramic viewing platform and viewer scopes to enhance your wildlife spotting experience. The observation deck faces north which is technically the habitat zone for these but you can also find them on the south side of the lake (behind you).

Georgetown Lake bighorn sheep viewing area

A surefire method to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures is to keep an eye out for their prominent, snowy hindquarters. If you happen upon one, it’s highly likely that you’ll encounter a gathering of their companions in the vicinity.

Georgetown Lake bighorn sheep

But don’t only fix your gaze to the mountains, because you might spot some aquatic wildlife hanging out near or in the lake like fastidious muskrats, which you can see pictured below.

And since this is the mountains, other wildlife you might encounter include bears and mountain lions although those tend to be rare.

Georgetown Lake muskrat


Georgetown Lake is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing a myriad of hiking opportunities that cater to every adventurer’s taste and skill level.

The primary pathway encircling the lake is known as the Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail.

If you’re up for a leisurely stroll, this path spans approximately 1.6 miles, guiding you along the scenic shoreline and weaving through enchanting wooded areas of pine, aspen, and fir.

This well-kept trail is a breeze to navigate, so you can leave those heavy hiking boots at home. With its mostly level terrain, you’ll only encounter a gentle ascent in a few spots, adding a touch of elevation to your journey.

Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake
Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake

One of the highlights of the trail is to check out the Harry M. Locke Dam on the north side of the lake. It’s location in the middle of the valley means that sometimes the winds can be ripping through this area which can be quite an experience. Make sure you hold onto your hat!

dam Georgetown Lake
Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake
Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake
Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake

As you progress on your journey, you will come across exquisitely crafted wooden benches adorned with uplifting and inspirational quotes and intricate carvings.

Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake

The Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail can also be a great launching point for longer and more strenuous hiking.

There are a couple of different trails that connect to the Silver Creek Trail which runs parallel to the lake and beyond for about 3 miles. It has some good scenery but you never are able to venture too far from the bustling hum of highway noise from I-70.

Silver Creek Trail
Hiking the Silver Creek Trail.

You also have the option of going all the way up to the summit of Saxon Mountain (11,533 feet) which is a pretty strenuous hike of 14 miles and 3,000 feet elevation gain.

Tom Bennhoff Lake Trail Georgetown Lake

If you need a respite from the chilly mountain air, there’s a warming hut offering you a small haven of warmth and comfort (reservations may be needed).

warming hut Georgetown Lake


One of the most widely enjoyed activities on the lake by both locals and visitors alike is fishing, which offers a perfect opportunity to immerse oneself in the serene waters, casting lines and patiently waiting for the elusive nibble.

When the weekend rolls around, you can bet your boots that folks will be scattered all around the perimeter of the lake, casting their lines and reeling in fish.

This place is a haven for anglers, stocked with rainbow trout that will put up a good fight. And you might even come across some elusive wild brown trout.

But don’t think the fun stops when the chill sets in.

Even during the frosty winter months, this spot remains a hotbed for ice fishing enthusiasts, drilling holes in the frozen surface and dropping their lines down below.

So whether it’s a sunny day in summer or a crisp winter’s eve, you can always count on the lake to be a prime destination for all your fishing adventures.

people fishing Georgetown Lake
people fishing Georgetown Lake
people fishing Georgetown Lake

Water sports

For those who love water activities, there’s another fun thing you can do – hop on a kayak or any other non-motorized boat and get right onto the water. (The boat put in is just beside the wildlife viewing platform.)

kayak on Georgetown Lake

It doesn’t seem like swimming is recommended and possibly it’s even prohibited based on some of the signs.

One of the major challenges of swimming here is that the water temperature remains so-cold throughout the year. In fact, one of the signs even warns of a recent casualty from someone who suffer hypothermia and passed away after their kayak overturned.

If you’re curious about the rules for the lake, here they are:

  • No alcohol allowed
  • No motorized boats of any kind
  • No sailboats in excess of 16′ in length
  • Approved Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) required for all types of watercraft
  • No open fires
  • No overnight camping without Town issued permit
  • Permits required for motorized vehicles on ice
  • Vehicles left unattended for more than 24 hours
  • may be towed at owner’s expense
  • Littering is illegal, take your trash with you!

Ice racing

Something else that is pretty unique about this lake is it in the winter they allow ice racing!

Drivers with four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive race their cars around a track on a frozen lake, and the fastest driver wins. It’s been an annual tradition for almost 50 years and you can look to make reservations for these events that take place in January and February.

They also have classes and Sunday fun days for people who want the experience without the pressure of competition.

Final word

Georgetown Lake is a great spot partly because of its easy access and close proximity to Denver and it has a lot going for it.

The extensive array of hiking choices caters to individuals seeking various levels of hiking, offering an ideal opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Moreover, the generous expanse of shoreline provides an idyllic setting for anglers to cast their lines into the serene waters in pursuit of a prized catch.

And lastly, it is regarded as one of the premier locations in Colorado to catch awe-inspiring glimpses of the majestic Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep,

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