Located in an expansive valley on the south fork of the Republican River, Bonny Lake State Park includes 6900 acres that encompass majestic Lake Bonny. The 1900 acre reservoir was built in the 1950’s by the Bureau of Reclamation and serves as the focal point for the area’s many attractions.
The park draws numerous visitors that want to experience its variety of stunning landscapes. The area immediately surrounding the lake is densely populated with mature cottonwoods and willow trees, offering a refreshing contrast to the surrounding high plains grasslands.
Although the park is open year round, budget cuts have reduced the operation of many facilities and eliminated certain services. It is important to check with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources for the current status of the campgrounds, lake access and park services.
The summer months at Bonny Lake State Park are busy as both locals from nearby communities and tourists fill the park. For campers, there are four well maintained campgrounds that include 190 separate sites.
Different campgrounds are available for motor homes, enclosed campers and trailers. There are numerous picnic areas, two beaches, a laundry and a marina. The better equipped campgrounds include the Wagon Wheel which provides $20 per day electrical service. Forest Grove offers amenities such as showers and toilets. For tent camping, the East Beach provides the best sites and services while the North Cove Campground appeals to those seeking a more natural experience.
Fishing and Water Sports
Fishing at Bonny Lake can be exceptional throughout the year. There are numerous species that populate the lake including white bass, fresh waterdrum, northern pike, walleye, crappie, large and smallmouth bass, white bass and channel catfish. In the winter, ice fishing is permitted.
The Bonny Dam Marina provides a gathering point for swimmers, water skiers, windsurfers and boaters. The summer weather can be hot while the water is warm and comfortable. Due to complications related to the interstate water compact compliance, the surface area of the lake has currently been reduced to 1000 acres. The lake was recently closed to boating on October 1st due to budget constraints, but is scheduled to reopen on April 1, 2011.
Hunting and Bird Watching
Hunters enjoy the abundant and diverse game that populates the Bonny Lake State Park. Deer, turkey, waterfowl, quail, dove, pheasant and duck all provide challenging opportunities for hunters of all skill levels. It is important to note that deer and turkey hunting is by draw permit only and that permits are no longer available at the park.
The reservoir at Bonny Lake State Park supports a thriving riparian woodland area. Due to its relatively secluded location, the park is home to an amazing number of bird species. Birders will be treated to rarities such as the Mew Gull, the Groove billed Ani, the Yellow crowned Night Heron, Arctic Tern and a variety of unusual types of birds. As the water in the reservoir changes levels, entirely different populations may choose to create habitats throughout the year.
Park and Surrounding Area Information
There are no stores within the park, so it is important to pack adequate supplies. About 15 minutes away in the town of Idalia, campers can find a grocery store, gas station, bait shop, motel and restaurant.
The Bonny Lake State Park is east of 385 and about 22 miles north of Burlington, or 23 miles north of Interstate 70. The address is 30010 County Road 3, Idalia, CO, 80735-9674. The phone number to the park is 970-354-7306. Rates vary by campsite, and it is advisable to call for a reservation prior to a visit.