We had felt guilty about not really knowing what was going on at Lake Nighthorse in its first full season as a city recreation area, so we dropped in for a visit July 4. We were a party of two journalists plus a labradoodle and a border collie, a car-load for an $8 admission fee collected by a particularly pleasant worker who assured us the dogs were welcome to swim. That was nice to hear.
The first thing we thought, once we had found a spot in the full overflow parking lot, was that this is an amazing amenity to have at the limits of any city, a stunning blue lake with snow-capped mountains in the background, and areas for swimming and paddle-boarding as well as access for motorboats and quite a few determined anglers. Fishing is encouraged. There are rumors of rainbow trout, but to investigate, boatless anglers must scramble down a steep, rocky incline or cast a line in the little cove to the southeast, where children swim.
The second thing we thought, as we looked for a spot to plant ourselves beside the cove and let the dogs swim, is that there was no spot. The accessible shoreline, limited to 25 feet inland, is composed of wet, sticky clay. There is no beach, which goes with lake like black beans with rice.
This seems like an oversight that can be remedied if Durangoans and visitors are to get the full benefit of the city’s investment. The city planned to cover the mud with wood chips, Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz told the Herald in April. There was no telling last week whether that had been done and the wood chips disappeared under the water or the city just never got around to it.