Brainard Lake opens for the season with new reservations — The Know

The popular Brainard Lake recreation area will open for its summer operating season on Friday with a new timed-entry reservations system in place.

The main Brainard Lake picnic site parking lot and the Red Rock Lake picnic site lot will be open for visitors with reservations specifically applying to those spots. The upper lots — Mitchell Lake, Long Lake and Niwot — are not expected to open until July.

Officials of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests instituted the reservations system this year in response to overflowing parking lots and other effects of overcrowding in recent years. They implemented a similar reservations system this year for the Mount Evans Road, from Echo Lake to the summit of the 14,265-foot peak, which opened last Friday.

Brainard Lake, one of the most beautiful spots in the Front Range, is located in the mountains west of Boulder at the foot of the Continental Divide in the dramatic Indian Peaks. For years, it has been an extremely popular destination for day hikers and picnickers, but last year it had visitation rates two to four times higher than normal due to the pandemic, officials said.

Reservations for Brainard Lake and Mount Evans are being made through the recreation.gov website (rec.gov also will work), the same one that is being used for Rocky Mountain National Park timed-entry reservations. For Brainard Lake, reservations can be made 14 days in advance. Mount Evans reservations can be made 30 days in advance.

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