An oasis in the desert, Highline Lake is the recreation epicenter for the Grand Valley with two lakes, lush grass, trails and trees.
No matter the season, Highline Lake State Park is a diverse and welcome retreat. Connected to miles of trails and close to communities, the park makes an ideal base camp for exploring the Grand Junction area. Whether passing through on mountain bikes, or as an end destination, the park welcomes campers, anglers, families and groups.
Birders have plenty to see here. The Audubon Society designated the park an important bird area; thousands migrate through the area every winter.
The trails are open year round!
Bikers, hikers and walkers have several trails and loops in the park to choose from. The 3.5 mile Highline Lake Trail circles Highline Lake; in addition, there are several bonus loops that provide extra distances, challenges and unique views.
One of the popular loops is the Blue Heron Ponds Loop that travels below the dam, then back up to re-join the Highline Lake Trail.
For a real challenge, ride the world famous 18 Hours of Fruita at Highline Trail; mountain bikers use this trail during the annual 18 Hours of Fruita at Highline endurance race that puts Highline Lake at the center of the mountain biking world the first weekend of every May. The 18 Hours of Fruita at Highline Lake Trail is over 7 miles per lap!
If you get a chance, take a look at the scenery - the views from the trails are awesome! Maps and other information about the trails are posted on the Highline Lake Trails pages, and maps are also available at the Visitor Center.
The park is also close to the North Fruita Desert trail system and the Kokopelli Trail head, as well as the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Stop at the Visitor Center for maps of all the trails, including a map made for those who want to bike from Highline Lake to the North Fruita Desert trails and the 18 Road complex, using only rural roads. Ask for it!
The campground makes a perfect base camp for all of the biking opportunities. After using the trails, many bikers take a dip at the swim beach, during the summer season, or fish in one of the lakes, then enjoy campfires and the amazing, star-filled night sky from their campsite!
Named an important birding area by the National Audubon Society, over 200 species of birds have been observed at Highline Lake State Park, including Vermilion Flycatcher, extremely rare in Western Colorado; snow geese, white swans, pelicans, blue herons, osprey, bald and golden eagles, owls, sand hill cranes, loons, loggerhead shrike and Cooper's Hawks.
Bald and golden eagles are often observed in the winter, hanging out in the leafless trees near the lakes, or soaring over the waters, looking for a meal! Recent discoveries include screech owls in the owl boxes near the Group Area! You cannot get close; they will back into their box and you won't be able to see them at all.
A 'Birds of Highline Lake State Park' checklist is available at the entrance stations or the park office. There are two Watchable Wildlife Kiosks on either side of Highline Lake, complete with viewing scopes.
The campground has become a yearly haven for Great Horned Owls and Cooper's Hawks to nest and raise their young until they are able to take flight and fend for themselves. Ask at the Visitor Center for information concerning where to look for them. Please do not disturb them, but with a little patience, you can get some amazing photos!
At Highline Lake, during the seasons, you can see and hear bald eagles, sandhill cranes, flocks of geese and ducks, Great Horned Owls, Red-Tailed and Cooper's Hawks, our very own ever-growing herd of mule deer! All sorts of feathered and non-feathered species may be seen year around in the Park and the surrounding rural area!
There are two lakes at Highline Lake State Park, Mack Mesa Lake and Highline Lake. Highline Lake is open to power boating, jet skiing, water skiing, sail boating, sailboarding and paddle boards from March 1st through September 30th, weather permitting.
On weekends, May through Labor Day, Highline Lake regularly reaches boat capacity, requiring boats to wait to enter the water until one leaves. There is rarely a wait on weekdays and evenings, though, so bring your boat to Highline Lake after work, or on your weekday off!
Park Rangers patrol Highline Lake regularly to provide emergency assistance and carry out boat safety inspections on the lakes within the park. All boats must carry the appropriate safety equipment outlined in Colorado boating regulations and statutes. Since underwater hazards may not be marked, use caution when boating.
Mack Mesa Lake is restricted to paddle boards and hand or electric-motor powered boats only. No gasoline or diesel engines are allowed to launch on Mack Mesa, even if not turned on.
You will want to stay awhile in the grassy, shaded campsites. Enjoy the clean restrooms with hot showers, washers and dryers; fill tanks with easy access to water, and use the dump station when needed. The campground is open year round!
Dogs are welcome at Highline Lake, with the following restrictions:
they are on a six foot or shorter leash at all times,
their waste is properly disposed of,
they are not left unattended,
they are not allowed on the swim beach.
There are two lakes to fish at Highline Lake State Park, Mack Mesa Lake and Highline Lake. Anglers can enjoy the warm-water fishing opportunities, which include largemouth bass, black crappie, black bullhead, channel catfish, and trout. Mack Mesa and Highline lakes are stocked with cold-water rainbow trout in the spring and fall.
Beginning in early Spring, trout fishing can be great! Call the Visitor Center at 970-858-7208 for information about the last time the lakes were stocked! Cat-fishing at the inlet on the east side of the park is usually a pretty sure thing!
When you catch a "big one," come into the visitor center to have your photo taken and posted on our Big Fish Board!
Take advantage of the loaner kid's fishing poles and tackle boxes available to borrow in the Visitor's Center - an adult can sign the equipment out with a driver's license.
Worms and power bait are usually available for purchase at the Visitor Center! Call 970-858-7208 before coming to the park, to make sure we have the items in stock.
There are thirteen caches located within the park! Highline Lake is a great way to begin Geocaching!
A big Thank You to our Volunteers Ron and Sandy for continuing this awesome project! They have done a wonderful job of placing the caches, and restocking them, and some are quite challenging! Returning to volunteer at Highline Lake each year, they check each cache.
Please consider others when geocaching by replacing anything you remove from a cache with something else, and let the Visitor Center know if there is a missing or broken cache!
A large grassy, shaded area, with shelter, modern restroom building, electricity, water, over-size grill, fire ring, volleyball and horseshoes! We even have benches set near the fire ring, creating a setting just right for those spooky or tall tales after dark!
There are several picnic tables in the area, which can be used under the brick shelter.
The group area is the perfect setting for any and all groups - schools, clubs, family reunions, weddings, receptions, birthday celebrations, or a "friends get-together camp out!"
Up to 100 persons can camp in the area, and 150 persons can picnic there for a day (from 7 am to 10 pm); Park Manager approval is required for more than 100 campers, or more than 150 picnickers during the day.
The Group Picnic Area is a great venue for groups of up to 150 persons. Weddings, reunions, company picnics, birthdays and other types of one-day parties and celebrations are more fun outdoors! This area is complete with modern amenities and lots of extras!
There are several great hiking/biking trails within the park to choose from, varying from easy to difficult for hikers of all ages and abilities. Trails and loops circle Highline Lake and Mack Mesa Lake; wander through a wetlands area below the dam rich with wildlife and birds, and traverse through the unimproved north end of the park.
Take a short detour and hike to the top of Mack Mesa! You will be rewarded with an amazing 360 degree view of the Grand Valley, from the Bookcliff range to Grand Mesa to the McInnis Canyons and everything in between!
Watchable Wildlife Kiosks, with viewing scopes, are located on either side of Highline Lake, and are easily accessible.
The small game hunting season usually begins in September at Highline Lake, and ends in February. Hunting is permitted Monday through Friday ONLY, with shotguns only. Small game hunting is permitted in the area bounded by the north and east state park boundary line; north of the Highline Lake no-wake buoy line; and east of Mack Mesa Lake. Small game hunters must fill out a small game hunting card at the West gate, before going out to hunt. There are boundary map signs posted there.
Mack Mesa is usually perfect for ice fishing during the winter months, and is usually frozen over before Highline Lake. When Highline Lake does freeze over, the ice fishing has been known to be excellent! For current ice conditions, contact the park at 970-858-7208
Ice skating at Mack Mesa often turns into an impromptu broom hockey game! As soon as ice conditions permit, a very much appreciated person(s) usually clears a portion of Mack Mesa for skating.
Jet skiing is as popular at Highline Lake as boating! The same conditions that draw boating enthusiasts to Highline draw jet skiers - blue skies, lots of water, a boat beach, and easy access to lakeside cabanas, for those wanting a less crowded area for picnicking.
Highline Lake State Park's fight to curb the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) applies to all trailered watercraft, including jet skis.
Paddle boarding is allowed at Highline and Mack Mesa Lakes, during the season! Boarders must have an approved vest on the board, as well as a whistle or other noise producing device. Contact the Visitor Center to borrow a loaner life jacket.
There are 44 family picnic sites with tables and grills throughout the park that are available year round and are close to both Mack Mesa and Highline Lake. Some sites are in grassy areas with mature shade trees, others are cabanas near sand, just perfect for building castles!
During the boating season, sailboards are often seen on Highline Lake, with the winds taking sailboard and passenger where they will. Highline Lake is also perfect for those who are learning to sailboard; mornings and evenings the waters are quieter and more easily traversed!
During the season, the swimming area of Highline Lake is a cool, heavenly retreat! The water is a great place for kids and adults alike to play and float. With turf grass and lots of shade trees near the beach, swimmers and sun lovers alike will be content. Swimming is ONLY allowed in the buoyed-off swimming area of Highline Lake
There are moveable volleyball poles available first-come, first-served in the picnic area near the swim beach. Volley balls are available to borrow at the Visitor Center, with a driver's license. Bring your own net!
There is a permanent volleyball set-up in the reserveable Group Area. Contact the Visitor Center for available balls.
Highline Lake is open to boating March 1st, weather and lake conditions permitting, through September 30!
The lake's proximity to Fruita and Grand Junction makes it a perfect location for a day of fun on the water, or an evening of water skiing after school or work.
All ANS inspections and decontaminations will be performed on all boats entering the water.
Special zoning regulations are in effect; all boats must travel in counter-clockwise direction, have an observer on board, and carry an orange warning flag.
Waterskiers must wear an approved flotation device. Water skiing is restricted to sunrise through sunset for safety reasons.
Wildlife and waterfowl are abundant year round at Highline Lake, and there are Watchable Wildlife Kiosks at either side of Highline Lake. These accessible shelters contain viewing scopes for those up-close shots!
There are several wildlife interpretive displays in the Visitor Center! A beaver munching a tree branch looks down from above the entrance door, a mountain lion skin hangs above the lobby windows; there are several 4 to 6 point mounted antlers on the lobby walls; and a great horned owl spreads its wings on another wall!
We are also fortunate to have a mounted bobcat on display, as well as a mountain lion skin to touch, and a mounted forepaw!
Our skins and skulls touch table is full of touchable wildlife skins, snake skins, and many skulls and various bones of local animals in clear plastic displays to pick up, turn around and upside down, and get a really good look at!
The Visitor Center also has photos of birds and wildlife seen in the park on the walls, as well as in several photo albums, all captured through the lens of visitors, volunteers and park staff.
Also on display are beautiful paintings and carvings of birds seen in the park, painted, carved and generously donated to Highline Lake by volunteers.
Highline Lake State Park is a wonderful place to relax in winter. The climate is usually mild and the park normally receives little snow, making it a nice base camp for winter recreation. When the park does receive snow, park visitors can enjoy a day of cross-country skiing, sledding, or ice fishing without leaving the park!
Downhill skiing, ice fishing and sledding can also be enjoyed in the nearby mountains before returning to the park and the warmth of a winter campfire in the campground.
Observing the bald and golden eagles, mule deer, various hawks and other wildlife and waterfowl nearby, all seeking winter haven at Highline Lake is an awesome winter treat for park visitors!
Winter campers are rewarded with amazing displays of astronomy - it seems the stars are almost close enough to reach out and touch!
Highline Lake has camping available year round, complete with a heated camper services building, coin-operated pressurized hot showers and laundry facilities.
With the right camping gear, and the possibility of spotting mule deer, eagles, foxes, hawks and all of the stars in the universe from your campsite, winter camping can be a quiet, relaxing and amazing retreat! Try it!