The area provides fun both on the water and on shore. The vast lake allows for plenty of water sports with boat ramps, courtesy docks and a swimming beach being located nearby. Fishing is a popular pastime, and the lake offers year-round varieties of fish such as bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, white bass, largemouth bass, freshwater drum, carp and walleye. There is an on-site playground and plenty of open space for children to play. A multi-use biking and walking trail is located a short drive away at the dam.
Lotus Group Area offers a secluded group campground in Coles Creek Recreation Area. The facility consists of five enclosed mini shelters with electricity, five campsites with electricity and one large enclosed shelter with tables, water and electricity. A playground, a restroom with vault toilets and a large fire ring are also provided. The site can hold a single group of up to 80 people at a time. The Coles Creek Beach and Day Use Area are a short walk away.
Carlyle Lake Visitor Center, located in the Dam West Recreation Area, has information available and nature exhibits on display, including a 215-gallon aquarium with native fish.