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Nottingham Lake sits at the heart of Avon, Colorado. A source of water, recreation and pride, Nottingham Lake is surrounded by the beauty of west central Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Tucked in a valley along the Eagle River, Harry A. Nottingham Park and Nottingham Lake are found a short eight miles west of Vail and within view of scenic Beaver Creek.
What are now world-renown ski slopes were once called "the shining mountains" by people of the Ute Nation. Abundant wildlife and rushing rivers provided summer hunting grounds for the Ute. The same beaver, bear and deer attracted mountain men and trappers by the early 1800s, but the Eagle River Basin did not see its first Anglo settlers until the 1880s. William Nottingham arrived in the valley in 1882 where his son, Harry A. Nottingham was born. Harry became a prominent citizen who ranched and farmed half of his parents' homestead until his death in 1966. Harry A. Nottingham Park and Nottingham Lake are named in his honor.
Nottingham Lake, also called Benchmark Lake, is an impoundment of Buck Creek, a tributary of the Eagle River. Built in 1980, Benchmark Dam now provides an emergency water supply to the city of Avon. The earthen dam, essentially a levee, rises along the south and west shore of Nottingham Lake helping to maintain an average depth of 10 feet and maximum depth of 15 feet. Sediment ponds located at the northeast end of the lake help to maintain water quality.
Today, Nottingham Lake and 48-acre Harry A. Nottingham Park provide a community space where residents can cheer on friends and neighbors at athletic fields, basketball courts, volleyball courts and tennis courts. The playground, picnic tables and cooking grills are excellent gathering spots for family and group cookouts. Plans have been discussed to extend hiking trails, but a single paved path already circles Nottingham Lake for walking, jogging, biking and in-line skating. During the summer, the sand beach makes a perfect space for sunning. Future long-range plans may expand water use, but generally swimming in Benchmark Lake is limited to special events. Swimmers will find a public pool at the multi-use recreation center built at the east end of the park. No motorized watercraft are permitted on Nottingham Lake but visitors may bring inner tubes, belly boats, canoes and kayaks to paddle across the 15-acre lake. For those who don't own a boat or canoe, paddleboats are available for rent.
If you have a Colorado fishing license, Nottingham Lake has been stocked with trout and is available for fishing both summer and winter. With less than a mile of lake shoreline, anglers tend to gather along the south and west shores where the water is deepest. Don't forget that the Eagle River lies immediately to the south of Benchmark Lake. Often less crowded than nearby Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, Eagle River is known for its wild rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and brookies. If you are looking for more secluded waterways, local outfitters are ready to take you to some of Colorado's best mountain streams and lakes.
Outdoor adventures continue within surrounding White River National Forest. With names like Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen found in White River National Forest, you know you are in the heart of bustling winter and summer resorts. For a slower pace, Eagle Ranger District maintains over 80 back-country trails open to hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and in the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Glenwood Canyon Trail has a paved surface open to mountain bikes and in-line skating. A hut-to-hut trail system is available for an extended cross-country outing. Those desiring a true wilderness experience will find that White River National Forest is home to eight wilderness areas. Here, mountain peaks, alpine meadows, sparkling streams and blue skies combine for the ultimate Rocky Mountain experience.
In the midst of Colorado's Northwest Tourism Region, spectacular scenery, and luxury resorts you will find the growing community of Avon. With an estimated population of 6,800, Avon is attracting an increasing number of seasonal residents. Half of Avon's housing units are second homes. According to a 2008 community survey, 24% of these units are considered "long term rentals", 27% "short term rentals", 28% are for "owner use only", and 45% are for "owner, friends and family use". Drawn to the charm and hospitality of Avon, 22% of second homeowners have indicated that they plan to use their home as a permanent residence when they retire.
As a growing commercial center to Eagle County, Avon's charming plazas are lined with shops, restaurants and services guaranteed to delight even the pickiest visitor. Truly the heart of this family-friendly community, Nottingham Lake is home to frequent family events including the Father's Day fishing derby, 4th of July fireworks, Easter egg hunts, art festivals and the annual "Icing on the Lake" skate party. As a planned community, Avon has surrounded Nottingham Lake and Harry A. Nottingham Park with homes and condominiums that include readily available real estate properties and vacation rentals. Now is the time to find your property. Come to Avon's Nottingham Lake and create treasured family moments on the shores of a sparkling lake surrounded by "the shining mountains."
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