Boating at North Sterling Reservoir
North Sterling Reservoir is a boater's paradise with 3,000 acres of pristine waters to explore and two boat ramps to launch the fun. New visitors often become returning regulars when they discover that this large reservoir has miles of wide-open space for both quiet fishing and exciting waterskiing. Read through the descriptions below to help plan your next adventure.
To the northwest, Darby Arm offers excellent wiper fishing. North Sterling's largest channel catfish of 2009 came out of Darby - 33 1/2 inches long and 24 pounds! For those seeking quiet and calm, the far west end of Darby Arm ends in a shallow marsh with great opportunities for wildlife watching. Great Blue Herons and other wetland birds are often found here, hunting for small fish or feeding on underwater plants for dinner.
To the southwest, Cunningham Arm is longer and narrower than Darby. Be careful of Goose Island, a shallow area marked by buoys at the mouth of Cunningham. As the water level drops, Goose Island emerges from the water and provides a safe haven for waterfowl where predators can't reach. The far west end of Cunningham is bordered by sandstone cliffs, offering cool shade for a quiet picnic lunch on your boat, and an interesting look at the geologic processes that deposited the many layers of sandstone that make up the bedrock of the North Sterling region.
Relax on the Shoreline
By boat, check out Darby Point and Rookery Point on the west side of the reservoir across from the dam. These shady areas offer fine shoreline fishing and a cool place to rest with a picnic.On the main park, head for the Ski Beach, just south of the South Boat Ramp, or Sunset Cove, at the west end of the point within walking distance of the swim beach. Remember, boats are not permitted inside the No Boat Zone around the Swim Beach, and swimmers are not allowed to swim outside the buoy line to meet a boat.Please note the state park property boundaries shown on the reservoir map. Boaters may recreate anywhere on the water, but the land outside the park boundaries is private property. Please respect our neighbors and stay off private lands.
Frequently-Asked Boating Questions:
What equipment am I required to have on my boat?
Click here for the minimum required safety equipment for recreational boats, or see the current Colorado boating statutes and regulations.
For their safety, children under 13 must wear a correctly-sized life jacket at all times while on the water, with all the buckles buckled and the straps adjusted.
North Sterling has a FREE life-jacket loaner program, with sizes from infants to adults, for those times when you have unexpected guests or you discover the kids have outgrown their old life jackets! Stop by the Visitor Center or call us at (970) 522-3657 for more details.
Is the marina open? Do you sell gasoline? Can I rent a boat slip? Can I rent a boat or jet-ski?
The Bayside Marina concession closed in October 2008. We are working to bring in a new marina concession, but the exact details of what services will be available and when are currently unknown. Gasoline is not available on the park at this time. Firewood, bagged ice, selected bait, soda, and other items are available for purchase at the Visitor Center. Boat slips will be available for short-term or seasonal rental through the Visitor Center. North Sterling does not have boats or PWCs for rent.
When are your boat safety classes scheduled?
Boating Safely certification classes are offered once a month on certain Monday and Thursday afternoons and evenings. These courses are home-study courses with a review session and a test at the park. 14 and 15 year-olds are required to complete this course and pass the test to legally operate a motorboat in the State of Colorado. Parents and visitors of all ages are welcome to sit in on the review session as well.
Please call the Visitor Center at (970) 522-3657 to obtain a study guide and to register for a class. See the Boating Safely Course Website for North Sterling's course schedule and more details.
What is the orange water-skiing flag for, and why are the rangers so insistent that we use it?
Remember, water-skiing requires three people: the boat operator, the skier and the observer (the person watching the skier). It's the observer's job to display a 12" x 12” bright orange flag whenever a skier or equipment is the water. Think about it: when a skier falls down, the boat keeps going for 500 or 1000 feet before turning around to pick up the skier. Another boat operating in the same area might not be able to see the person or the rope floating in the water. The orange ski flag is a highly visible universal sign that a person or equipment is in the water where another boat operator might not be able to see them - like turning on your four-way hazard lights in your car. When your observer holds up that orange flag, other boats know to steer clear of the area.
Your ski flag is required to be 12"x12" and bright orange for visibility. If you find that your ski flag has faded from sun damage, it needs to be replaced. Free replacement orange ski flags may be available at North Sterling's Visitor Center.
Sorry, parasails and kite tubes are not permitted.
Please see the Colorado State Parks Boating Program page for more information.