Lemon Reservoir

Located approximately 16 miles outside Durango to the Northeast of town lies Lemon Reservoir, a local hub for outdoor and aquatic activities. 

Nestled in the Florida River Valley and formed from a dam in the Florida River, the Lemon Reservoir stretches over five hundred acres of land. All that space means there is plenty of room for visitors to explore and adventure in the beautiful outdoors. 

No matter the season, the water will be chilly because most of it comes from runoff and snow melt. But this makes the water cold, clear, and fresh for all the water activities you could want to do. 

You can explore the water freely by sitting on the shore and fishing to push yourself in a non-motorized boat. 

Lemon Reservoir’s land is just as ripe with opportunities for fun as the water. The location inside and near a canyon formed by the river over the centuries provides ideal choices to get out in nature. 

You can hike, camp, rock climb, and use off-roading vehicles during the warmer seasons. During the winter, you can start up some winter recreation activities like skiing, snowmobiling, or ice-fishing. 

Any time of the year, you can get out and about at Lemon Reservoir.

Things to Do at Lemon Reservoir

Kayaking, Canoeing, and SUPing

SUP at Lemon Reservoir During Summer | Rhyler Overend | Visit Durango

The calm waters of Lemon Reservoir are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding (SUPing). Most people will launch on the south end of the reservoir and paddle into the middle of the reservoir for the views.


Primarily known for their Kokanee salmon, brown, and rainbow trout, the Lemon Reservoir is well known by the locals for the fishing opportunities it provides. 

Ice Fishing

During the winter, the ice on the water can be broken in for ice fishing and a chance to experience fresh fish in the refreshing Colorado winter.


Lemon Reservoir’s location and proximity to the Weminuche Wilderness makes it ideal for hiking and experiencing the backwoods. The protected nature of the nearby woods makes them ideal for hiking in one of the country's more untouched and wild areas.

Swimming and Picnicking

Whether it's a day trip or multiple, the two nearby campgrounds and just the pleasant views make having a picnic sound like a fun way to get your needed sustenance. There are nearby campground tables or just some pleasant rocks sitting around. 

There aren't many beaches that make swimming off the shore a great activity, but if you want to hop off your boat to cool down on a hot day or get some extra exercise, there aren't any rules against it. Just do so at your own risk because there aren't any lifeguards to jump in after you.

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

All those amazing hiking trails scattered near the reservoir become even more impressive in a different way as the seasons change. During the winter, the trails are covered in sparkling fresh snow perfect for snowshoeing through and cutting across with a pair of cross-country skis.


Just a short distance from the water lies two campgrounds managed by the Forest Service that are ideal for getting away from the city for a while. 

With fire pits for some smores or some grilling and tables for having a nice picnic, you can spend a relaxing evening surrounded by nature.

OHV or Off-Roading

Some roads and trails are maintained from spring through fall just for the use of smaller motorized vehicles like OHVs and similar off-roading vehicles. These off-highway vehicles can roam for miles across rough terrain as they pass over rocks and runoff.


Just north of the Lemon Reservoir lies a canyon carved by the Florida River through the local mountain granite. The natural cracks and fractures make fantastic holds and grips for the climbing enthusiast. From beginner levels to expert level, there are plenty of routes to climb.


Trails maintained for off-road and highway vehicles during the summer months become a little bogged down with snow and mud during the winter. But all that snow that might interfere with normal off-roading is great for snowmobiling. During the winter-specific trails and roads are maintained just for the avid snowmobile rider.

Maps and Site Resources

Travel Tips for Lemon Reservoir

  • Lemon Reservoir, like most other fishing locations in Colorado, requires a valid Colorado fishing license.

  • For any winter recreation activities in the backcountry, including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, going with an experienced person and/or taking classes such as avalanche preparedness classes is highly recommended.

  • Climbing can be dangerous even to the experienced, so bring the proper gear and take the precautions you feel are necessary.

  • Most off-road vehicles require permits to use, so ensure yours are up to date before use.

  • Bring whatever supplies you might need with you because access to anything you don't bring with is limited.

  • Pack out anything you pack in to help preserve the area for everyone else.

Accessibility Information

  • Vault Toilets at Miller Creek Campground

  • Day use area parking lot is unpaved and may not be level. 

Care for Durango

In order to protect Lemon Reservoir and ensure its continued importance to our community, we suggest you take the following actions to help protect our water and the riparian environment around the river.

  • Be thoughtful about the amount of water you use.

  • When recreating in or near the reservoir, be sure to clean up after yourself and pack out any trash.

  • Clean up any trash you see.

  • Speak up when you see something that could harm the lake or its environment.

  • Follow all regulations with watercraft.

  • Inspect watercraft, and clean and dry them completely before using them on the reservoir to prevent invasive species introduction.

  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Pledge to Care for Durango