Red Feather Lakes: Northern Colorado’s Best Kept Secret

Your Red Feather Lakes Camping Vacation Starts Here

Red Feather Lakes is a place where northern Colorado locals visit to escape the crowds. While the tourists play in nearby destinations like Rocky Mountain National Park or kayakers swarm the Poudre River, laid-back locals quietly point their wagons — and ATVs — west on County Road 74E (Red Feather Lakes Road) to find solitude and summer fun.

red feather lakes

Nestled in the Mummy Mountain Range at an elevation of 7,890 feet, this rugged alpine region was known as Mitchell Lakes in Colorado’s earliest days. But in the 1920s, the village of Red Feather Lakes was officially established and named in honor of Princess Tsianina Redfeather, a greatly admired Native American mezzo-soprano opera star whose great-great-great grandfather died nearby after a brutal battle between the Cherokees and the Pawnees.

In celebration of the acclaimed singer’s connections, local lakes were re-christened with Native American names such as “Hiawatha” and “Shagwa.”

As word of this secluded getaway grew and nearby Estes Park boomed, local real estate developers dreamed of creating their own resort destination town. But development was slow, even after electricity came to the region in 1952. Dozens of quaint, lake-front log cabins were built and a few essential businesses were established, but the grandiose plans of creating another Estes Park never materialized. Maybe it’s because of the one-way-in, one-way-out paved road to get here, but today Red Feather Lakes remains virtually the same as it has been for the last 60 years.

Red Feather Lakes is an easy 45-minute drive from downtown Fort Collins, making it a great weekend destination. The community is surrounded by thousands of acres of the Roosevelt National Forest, where trout fishing, no-wake boating, hiking, riding and camping are the order of the day.

Campers can make their temporary homes at Bellaire, Dowdy or West Lake forest service campgrounds, which feature basic services such as electric hookups, hand-pumped water and vault toilets. More adventurous souls who prefer camping outside of established areas have thousands of acres of public forest land, streams and lakes to explore. RVers need to remember that the closest dump station in the area is located in Fort Collins, so use care when filling those holding tanks.

If a comfortable bed and a fireplace is your ideal retreat, there are dozens of home rentals in the area. Local property manager Barb Bowman of Kenosha Mountain Security can connect you with some of the most luxurious rentals in Red Feather, but if your goal is to experience the frontier lifestyle, Lone Pine Realty has rustic log cabin rentals tucked away in pine and aspen forests.

Off-roaders don’t have to stray far from the village to find back-country adventures. Take a journey deep into the heart of the national forest and you’ll eventually end up in Walden or even Steamboat. Other back roads lead to the Poudre River (CR 14) or Creedmore Lakes. On weekends you’ll find a few hikers and equestrians on the Mount Margaret Trail, a relatively flat, 8-mile casual hike offering spectacular 360-degree views of Red Feather Lakes.

Common Questions About Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Is Red Feather Lakes Open?

Yes, Red Feather Lakes are always open.  Camping might not be available all year long, but you can access almost all county and state lake areas all year.

Can you swim at Red Feather Lakes?

You can swim in certain areas of Red Feather Lakes.  It’s best to check the lake or camping site to be sure.  If it’s not available where you are camping, try another area or ask the locals for the not so public areas.

How far is Red Feather Lakes from Fort Collins?

The drive from Fort Collins to Red Feather Lakes takes about 45 minutes on a good day.  This can be a little longer depending on weather and which route you take to get there.

What kind of fish are in Red Feather Lakes?

Some of the most common fish in Red Feather Lakes are brook trout, lake trout, salmon and mountain whitefish. There are other less common types of fish and some say they are not that great to eat.  So catch and release might be your best bet.

Other Things To Do In The Area

To experience one of the most unusual attractions in the Red Feather area, point your vehicle east back on CR 74E to CR 68C and head south to the Shambhala Mountain Center, a Buddhist retreat with the world’s largest stupa, a sacred monument said to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health, peace and freedom from ignorance. The memorial was created, according to Buddhist traditions, to honor a respected teacher. The construction took 13 years, and it is said that its strong enough to stand for 1,000 years. The family will also enjoy a visit to the Deadman Lookout, which was once used to spot fires in the area. It sits high above the wilderness area and provides visitors with a view of the world below.

Choose A Restaurant

And after a long day in the woods you won’t go hungry. Red Feather Lakes has four full-service restaurants. Travel south or north on CR 74E for breakfast, lunch and dinner fare at Crystal Lakes, Beaver Meadows and Glacier View resorts. On weekends you can join in with locals at the karaoke machine and belt out your favorite tunes at the Pot Belly Deli, Restaurant and Bar. The service is awesome, and regulars highly recommend the burrito and bacon burger. The Trout Tavern is another great option that receives high ratings from customers. They say this is because of the hospitality, service, and the delicious food. Be sure to try one of their great sandwiches and top it off with a yummy dessert. If you want to enjoy a relaxing drink, check out their cocktail menu. Last- but- not- least, DaLonna Mae’s Cafe provides fantastic sandwiches and salads. If you place a call-in order, be sure to check out their containers. They are fully compostable plant-based products. Think green!

What To Do In Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Located in Larimer County, Red Feather Lakes is a census-designated place that sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet. This quaint little town is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some peace and quiet. Here are 5 fun things to do in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.

1. Go Fishing

Red Feather Lakes is home to over 60 lakes, making it a fisherman’s paradise. Whether you like to fish for trout, perch, or pike, you’re sure to find a lake that suits your fancy. Don’t have a fishing license? No problem! You can purchase a one-day fishing license at most bait and tackle shops in town.

2. Take a Hike

With its abundance of lakes and breathtaking mountain views, Red Feather Lakes is a hiker’s paradise. There are dozens of trails to choose from, ranging from easy to difficult. So whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, you’ll find a trail that’s perfect for you.

hiking in red feather lakes colorado

3. Go Camping

If you really want to get away from it all, head on over to the Red Feather Lakes Area Campground. This campground offers RV hookups as well as tent sites. And with its close proximity to all of the town’s amenities, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips.

4. Play Golf

Love golf? Then you’ll love the fact that there are two golf courses in Red Feather Lakes – The Ridge course and The Meadows course. Both courses offer stunning mountain views and challenging gameplay. So whether you’re a scratch golfer or just enjoy playing for fun, you’re sure to have a great time.

5. Enjoy Some Retail Therapy

After a long day of hiking or fishing, stop by one of the many shops in town for some retail therapy. From art galleries to antique stores, there’s something for everyone in Red Feather Lakes. And if you get hungry while you’re out shopping, be sure to grab a bite to eat at one of the town’s many restaurants – there’s something for everyone!

Red Feather Lakes is the perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy some peace and quiet. With its abundance of lakes and breathtaking mountain views, there’s no shortage of things to do in this quaint little town. So whether you like to fish, hike, camp, golf or just shop ‘til you drop, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado!

Red Feather Lakes Colorado Statistics

Red Feather Lakes is a census-designated place (CDP) in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. The population was 1,471 at the 2010 census. The Red Feather Lakes Post Office has the ZIP code 80545.


Red Feather Lakes is located in northeastern Larimer County at 40°6′20″N 105°30′48″W / 40.10556°N 105.51333°W / 40.10556; -105.51333 (40.105450, -105.513329). It is bordered to the east by Rocky Mountain National Park. U.S. Route 287 passes through the community, leading north into the park and south 17 miles (27 km) to Livermore, the Larimer county seat. Fort Collins is 35 miles (56 km) south of Red Feather Lakes via US 287 and Colorado State Highway 14.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 35.6 square miles (92 km2), of which 35.4 square miles (92 km2) are land and 0.27 square miles (0.70 km2), or 0.77%, are water. Crystal Lake, one of several lakes in the community, is in the center of Red Feather Lakes CDP.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,542 people, 662 households, and 410 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 43 people per square mile (17/km²). There were 1,565 housing units at an average density of 44 per square mile (17/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96% White, 0% African American, 0% Native American, 0% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 1% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4% of the population.

There were 662 households out of which 24% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54% were married couples living together, 7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34% were non-families. 28% of all households were made up of individuals and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years old or older.[citation needed] The average household size was 2+ people and 2+ family members residing within its confines. In terms of age distribution; 19s made up 22%, 20s made up for 23%, 30s made up 25%, 40s made up 16%, 50s made up 11%, 60s made up 3%, 70s made up 0%, 80s made up 0%, 90s made up 0%. As for marriage status; 55% were married couples while 45% were feather lakes fishing

Income & Employment Status

The median income for a household in the CDP was $41k and the median income for a family was $48k. Males had a median income nearly 31k while females brought home around 23k annually. About 9% of families and 12+ percent of individuals live below poverty lines including 8+ percent under ages 18 along with 15+ percent aged 65 or over. In terms of employment status; 85+ percent were employed while 15- percent were unemployed. Industries in which residents worked included; Manufacturing(24%), Retail Trade(21%), Construction(16%), Arts/Entertainment/Recreation(11%), Educational Services/Health Care/Social Assistance(9%).

Red Feather Lakes is a beautiful place to live with many outdoor activities available such as hiking and fishing. There are also many different types of businesses located in Red Feather Lakes including manufacturing companies and retailers. If you are thinking about moving to Red Feather Lakes or just want to visit , be sure to check out all that this lovely town has to offer!



Check out some other towns in Colorado that you might to visit!