Home Colorado's Best Spots Take a Day Trip to Brainard Lake

Take a Day Trip to Brainard Lake

by Rachel Daly
brainard lake all things boulder

My mom suggested we take a day trip to Brainard Lake so last week we packed up a few snacks and headed out the door! After a quick 45 minute drive through beautiful canyons, we arrived at this peaceful mountain lake surrounded by gorgeous peaks. The entrance fee would have been $11, but with my annual national parks pass we were able to enter with no fee. This simple, yet stunning spot is perfect for a hike (short or long!), a picnic, a short stroll around the lake and, as we discovered, a great place to witness Colorado’s wildlife.

brainard lake

Let the Kids Play on the Beach

There are a handful of beach-like areas where the kids can take off their shoes and wade in to the crystal clear waters. My kids loved climbing on rocks and exploring the shallows in search of lake creatures!

Take a Hike or a Short Stroll

There are a ton of hiking trails around the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, but we opted for a stroll around the lake. There is a paved road, half of which is closed to cars, that is both wheelchair friendly and stroller friendly.

Witness Colorado’s Wildlife

On our way up my mom was really hopeful that we would see a moose, but I was unconvinced. I’ve lived here for 26 years and I’ve never seen one with my own eyes. But Brainard Lake delivered! After seeing a ton of signs regarding moose habitats and moose behavior, lo and behold there were three moose chewing on bushes right there alongside the road. I was startled, then delighted! My mom and kids were thrilled. Here is a picture of one of the moose we saw, as well as some safety information for folks who are considering making a trip to Brainard Lake.

Moose at Brainard Lake Recreation Area All Things Boulder

Moose at Brainard Lake Recreation Area

BRainard Lake Moose Info

Bring the Dog

Unlike the national parks, Brainard Lake is in a national forest, so dogs on a leash are allowed! We saw a ton of cute dogs being walked by their owners and we plan to bring our own furry friend the next time we visit.

Photo by Rami Boneh via Facebook

Photo by Rami Boneh via Facebook

Picnic Areas, Bathrooms and Other Conveniences

There are several picnic areas around the lake, perfect spots for a snack or a packed lunch. More than one of them have bathrooms for your convenience. There are also trash cans and recycling bins near the picnic areas.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is located at Brainard Lake Rd, Ward, CO 80481. Admission is $11/car. Admission is free with an annual national parks pass. For all the details, click here.

About Rachel Daly

I am Rachel, Boulder writer, mother and animal lover. It is my passion to explore Boulder and to share what I've learned with you! My husband, Jeremiah Daly, and I both work in real estate. We live in the Boulder foothills with our two young daughters.

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