Prospect Lake: Historical Recreation Hub

From the earliest days of Colorado Springs, Prospect Lake has been drawing residents for outdoor fun.

With the mountainous backdrop of Pikes Peak and its central location just east of downtown, Prospect Lake has been a longtime centerpiece of Colorado Springs recreation.

General William Jackson Palmer’s Colorado Springs Company donated the land to the city in 1887. Three years later, City Council voted to construct dams at each end of the marshy area and run a water main to fill what is now Prospect Lake. As a resource of fresh water, the lake’s mission was to provide residents with drinking water and to keep the lawns, shrubs and trees at nearby Evergreen Cemetery flourished.

But by the late 1890s, residents and visitors were using the lake recreationally. By 1902, Winfield Scott Stratton envisioned Prospect Lake as a resort that included bathhouses, boat launches, a cafe, hotel and pavilion. The “Beautiful, Useful Prospect Lake Bathhouse” opened May 30, 1937, giving a big boost to Colorado Springs’ outdoors community.

Locals gathered at the lake during every season to swim, water-ski, camp and fish in the summer and to ice skate and play hockey during the winter. The 194 acres of land became an official city park in 1940.

By the mid 1960s, the American Water Ski Association held competitions that attracted water-skiers from around Colorado and other states. The beach area and bathhouse underwent a $1.4 million renovation in 2019 to add more space for activities and hopes of better usage and accessibility for the public.

Memorial Park continues to attract the outdoors community of Colorado Springs with indoor and outdoor swimming, ice-skating, a 40,000-square-foot skate park, fishing, boating and more.

By the Numbers

Land donated as a reservoir site.

Renamed Memorial Park following World War II.

Acres in Memorial Park.

Acres in Prospect Lake.

Miles of trail around the lake.

$1.4 million
Recent renovations to the bathhouse and beach.

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