Editor’s Note: This is the second story of a three-part series highlighting the recreation opportunities at Standley Lake Regional Park in Westminster. The first story focused on the history of the park and the final story will focus on educational opportunities.
Stocked regularly with walleye, wiper, trout and bass Standley Lake offers fishermen year-round fishing along the shoreline as well as boat fishing May through September. The lake is also the Colorado state record-holder for the largest walleye, 18 pounds, caught in 1997 by angler Scott Regan.
Standley Lake Regional Park in Westminster at 100th Avenue and Simms Street, offers much more than just great fishing. The park offers hiking, biking, camping, power boating, kayaking, paddle boating and wildlife viewing. And for those who own power boats, the lake offers recreational opportunities, like water skiing and tubing, without the hassle of an overpopulated park.
Because the lake is a water source, there are limitations to how much recreational use can be done in the water. Part of those limitations is a limit on how many power boats are allowed on the lake. Each year the park issues 550 power boat permits and each year those permits sell out. The reason for the permits is to maintain a high level of water quality in the lake, said Mike Happe, Utilities Planning and Engineering Manager for the city of Westminster.
“The lake is the main source of water for Westminster and is a big water supply for both Northglenn and Thornton, so keeping the water quality very high is a priority,” he said. “Because of this, we also don’t allow swimming in the lake because having less human body contact in the water creates an even bigger barrier in terms of protecting the quality of the water.”
Along with obtaining a permit, each boat must also sprayed down and quarantined for 15 days before entering the water to comply with the park’s Aquatic Nuisance Species, ANS, program. The ANS program is an effort to keep zebra and quagga mussels from infesting the water. Mark Reddinger, lake operations manager, said when a boat is clear to enter the water the boat and the trailer is tagged. Boats who have entered another lake or reservoir must go through the spray process and quarantine again, he added.
“When we first started this program we did get some backlash, but now people have accepted the program. Because of our permit program, we have less people and boats in the lake, which people really enjoy,” he said. “We have some people who store their boats here in the park all summer and come out every weekend. Many of those people we’ve seen for years and end up getting to know them pretty well.”
Standley Lake is also a non-alcoholic and jet ski-free park, which Reddinger also says is a benefit.
“We know there is alcohol out there, but because it’s not allowed it makes people check themselves if they choose to drink alcohol,” he said. “And because we don’t have jet skis on the water, people feel the lake is a lot safer.”
The lake isn’t just home to power boaters, but also people in non-motorized boats, kayaks, canoes and paddle boats. Just recently the park designated a section of the lake just to these types of vessels and senior ranger Holly Walters said she’s already seen a jump in the number people taking advantage of the opportunity.
“The designated area of the lake for non-motorized vessels is the north west corner and is a pretty big chunk of the lake,” Walters said. “It’s a really nice amenity for people to come out and not have to worry about boat traffic. Plus it’s just gorgeous out there.”
By the end of the September, the camping ground and all water activity will end until the following May, but the rest of the park is open year-round. Walters said it’s the non-summer months when wildlife viewing is at its best. Over the years the park’s been a home to mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyotes, mule deer and many others. For bird watchers, Walters said the park offers great opportunities to view a variety of birds like herons and pelicans, and of course a pair of bald eagles, that nest in the park year-round.
“Many people think we close after summer, but there are still so many great recreational opportunities for people in the park, whether it’s fishing along the shore, or hiking around 14 miles of trails,” Walters said. “Standley Lake is just a great place to escape the city any time of the year and enjoy nature. As a ranger I get to enjoy it every day and I wouldn’t choose a different office.”