The body of Andrew “Andy” Ward of Durango was discovered under 36 feet of water at Lake Nighthorse around 11 p.m. Saturday.
A search for Ward, 60, had begun Friday evening when his empty canoe was discovered on the lake.
“We don’t know what led him to be out of the canoe, and we don’t know when he exited the canoe. He was not wearing a life jacket,” said Durango Police Department Sgt. Nick Stasi.
It did not appear that the canoe had capsized, he said.
The body was discovered by the Marine Evidence Recovery Team of Colorado Parks and Wildlife headquartered in Littleton. The team had been called to assist in the search for Ward.
The team arrived at Lake Nighthorse around 7 p.m. Saturday and began searching the lake, Stasi said.
Stasi said Ward is an experienced outdoors recreationist, and he believed Ward was taking the canoe on its maiden voyage.
The body was discovered near the dam on Lake Nighthorse, which has a surface area of 1,490 acres.
The cause of death has not been determined. La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said an autopsy will be performed next week, probably Thursday, but as of Sunday an exact time for the autopsy had not been set.
Ward was last seen at the boat launch at Lake Nighthorse around 1:30 p.m. Friday. He had a green canoe and was by himself, Stasi said.
The empty canoe was reported floating on the lake around 7 p.m. Friday.
Stasi said La Plata Search and Rescue assisted by scouring the perimeter of the lake, which led to the discovery of a paddle, and that allowed teams to narrow their search area on the lake.
Multiple local, state and federal agencies assisted.
About 16 hours into the search, 21 people were canvassing the shoreline and lake surface with the help of canines, said Ron Corkish with La Plata County Search and Rescue.
In addition, Flight For Life and the U.S. Forest Service provided search helicopters.