Days
<1
Motors Allowed?
No
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Wellington Lake is just a short drive away from Denver, and is a great spot to camp and to spend time in the water, whether you are canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or just swimming. There are also short hikes around the lake, which make this a very good destination for a family camping weekend.

Towering above the lake is The Castle, a 9,691-foot-tall granite mountain that is visible from anywhere in the lake. In calm summer mornings, the mountain’s reflection on the lake provides great photo opportunities. Although relatively close to Denver, skies are remarkably dark, especially when looking west. This makes it possible to observe and photograph the Milky Way as it makes its way across the sky in moonless summer nights.

The 167-acre lake is privately owned, and it is managed by Castle Mountain Recreation. All sites must be reserved in advance, and they generally fill up in summer weekends. They sell firewood at the camp office, but no food, so pack accordingly. There are latrine restrooms and water available, but no showers. 

In summer the lake provides a great setting for paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Note that no motorized boats are allowed. The site has also hosted a popular triathlon. In the winter, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favorite activities.

Fauna in the area include ospreys, which are commonly seen catching fish in the summer, deer, and bear, among others.  Wildflowers are abundant in the summer, and yellow aspen leaves adorn the mountains along the road to the lake in autumn.

It is possible to hike up to The Castle, but not to the summit, which requires a technical climb. There is also a short, half-mile round-trip hike up Buffalo Creek to Buffalo Creek Falls and back. It is an easy hike, though the trail can be muddy in the beginning. The best time to see the falls is in late spring to early summer when flows are at their highest.

Join the effort to protect these places

Conservation Colorado has worked with communities around the state for over 50 years in pursuit of its mission - to protect Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. It fights to protect the air, land, water, and people of Colorado. Their collaborative approach and focus on electing pro-conservation officials has yielded successes in addressing climate change, supporting clean energy development, conserving water resources, and protecting our public wildlands and rivers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Entrance (+ per person)

Pros

Close to Denver. Beautiful views. Great canoeing or kayaking.

Cons

Campsites fill up quickly.

Features

Campgrounds + Campsites
Fishing
Picnic tables
Waterfalls

Site characteristics: Water

Lake

Portage required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

07/27/2016
Noted, Suzanne, thank you!
07/26/2016
As of July 2016 all campsites are all reservable only, no more walk-ups - book in advance!
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