Visiting Button Rock Preserve
How to Get There
Button Rock Preserve is located in a quiet river valley about 7 miles west of Lyons. To get to the preserve from Longmont, travel west on Highway 66 to Lyons. Proceed west on Highway 36 for 4 miles. Turn left at Boulder County Road 80 and continue for 3 miles where you will arrive at a gate across the roadway which restricts vehicle access. Limited parking is provided and the preserve is beyond the gate.
Within this walk-in only preserve you will find Longmont and Ralph Price Reservoirs along the North Saint Vrain Creek. Longmont manages this natural watershed and reservoirs to preserve the resource and provide storage for the City's Water Utility.
The preserve creates a unique experience for visitors, providing opportunities to view wildlife, the natural environment, and water management facilities at a close level. Learn more about the preserve forest and how it is managed via the Button Rock Forest Stewardship Program.
Trails within Button Rock Preserve offer scenic views and plenty of exercise for an afternoon outing. These trails also enable anglers to access many backcountry fishing locations. Learn more about fishing in the preserve below.
See Preserve Rules & Regulations at the bottom of this webpage.
Fishing at the Preserve
The North St. Vrain Creek provides excellent fly fishing opportunities for anglers at the Preserve, where brown trout are abundant in the river shallows and pools. Fishing along the river and at Longmont Reservoir is within easy walking distance from the entrance. A fully accessible creekside fishing pier is also located just past the entrance gate.
After a two-mile hike into the preserve, you will reach Ralph Price Reservoir. A special fishing permit is required to fish at this reservoir - find details and regulations on the Ralph Price Reservoir Fishing Program webpage. This area offers an escape from the usual crowding experienced at other local reservoirs. The reservoir is stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout and splake (a brook and lake trout hybrid).
Button Rock Preserve is bordered by Boulder County Open Space, U.S. Forest Service lands, and private property. Signs are posted along trails to inform park visitors of the boundaries. Please abide by these markers to avoid trespass occurrences on the private parcels. Also, private property owners have access rights permitting them to drive roads in the area which are closed to public vehicle traffic. Please keep to the shoulder and leash your pets when walking along the roadways.
Area Rangers can assist you in locating these preserve borders and understanding permitted land uses.
While hiking along the creek and trails at Button Rock Preserve, observant visitors will see and hear abundant signs of wildlife. Throughout the year, mule deer, coyotes, and mountain lions roam the canyons and meadows. Whistling sounds near Button Rock Dam are familiar calls of yellow-bellied marmots. During winter months, eagles and an occasional osprey soar above the reservoirs and river searching for food in shallow waters. As spring approaches, ducks, geese, and great blue heron find Ralph Price Reservoir a perfect place to build a nest and start a family. Proud waterfowl parents with their young can be observed swimming and roaming about early in summer. The remainder of summer and into the autumn months, keep a watchful eye out to observe cottontail rabbits, Abert's squirrels, mountain bluebirds, Steller's jays and assorted hummingbirds. You may even find signs of black bear feeding here at night when chokecherries begin to ripen. And, don't forget to watch where you step, as Button Rock Preserve maintains a perfect habitat for prairie rattlesnakes.
Resiliency after the 2013 Flood
Button Rock Preserve was severely damaged in the September 2013 flood; it reopened to the public in June 2015. A new Spillway Bridge opened in March 2017 to replace one destroyed in the 2013 flooding. Aquatic and stream side restoration work also was completed on the North St. Vrain Creek, which runs through the preserve.
The City of Longmont also continues efforts to improve the resiliency of our water supply and storage systems in the preserve. A cooperative study effort with Colorado State University is monitoring and evaluating the tons of sand and gravel that entered Ralph Price Reservoir during the flood. The goal of the study is to better understand the current and future impacts of this material. Learn more about efforts to track the fate of sediment after an extreme flood (PDF 20MB) >
Preserve Rules and Regulations
- NO Camping
- NO Overnight parking
- NO Bicycles
- NO Horses
- NO Fires
- NO Hunting
- NO Firearms
- NO Boats or Floating Devices
- NO Swimming
- NO Resource Collection or Removal
- NO Drones (unmanned remote control or control-line devices in the air or water)