Vallecito Reservoir

Approximately 18 miles northeast of Durango, Vallecito Reservoir is a large reservoir that is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Colorado. At 7,800 feet above sea level, Vallecito Reservoir is the largest body of water at this elevation or higher in Colorado.

During the summer, Vallecito Reservoir a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, SUPing, boating, hiking, and picnicking.

In winter, Vallecito Reservoir freezes over allowing for ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing right on the surface of the water itself.

Things to Do at Vallecito Reservoir

Kayaking, Canoeing, and SUPing

One of the best ways to enjoy the scenery at Vallecito Reservoir is from a kayak or SUP. Vallecito Reservoir has calmer waters on both the northern end and southern end.

Rentals are available in many locations throughout Durango and at the Vallecito Marina itself.


Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, and northern pike are found in Vallecito Reservoir.


Power boats are allowed at Vallecito Reservoir. Boating on the calm waters allows for 360-degree views of the mountains and mesas of eastern La Plata County.


Shoreline of Vallecito Reservoir in Spring

While there are many hiking trails to the north of Vallecito Reservoir, there are few established trails that start from the water's edge. However, most people will stroll along the water's edge on a makeshift beach trail.

Swimming and Picnicking

The water at Vallecito Reservoir is clean and clear making it a great place to take a dip on a hot day. The beach is a mix of sand and silt and is great for picnicking as the water laps at your feet.

There are many picnic areas around the reservoir with both shelter and grills.

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

Snowshoeing at Vallecito Nordic Ski Club Area During Winter | Ben Brashear | Visit Durango

After fresh snow, Vallecito Reservoir becomes an incredible place to snowshoe and cross country ski. The Vallecito Nordic Club grooms over nine miles of managed trails that take off from the eastern shores and snake in and out of the beautiful ponderosa and oak trees

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing on Vallecito Reservoir During Winter

Vallecito Reservoir is a great place to ice fish. The Vallecito Lake State Park marina rents out augers and has all the supplies you need for a day of ice fishing. There are also many companies that offer guided ice fishing trips.


There are several campgrounds at Vallecito Reservoir, including Pine Point Campground, Graham Creek Campground, Pine River Campground, and Middle Mountain Campground. Advance reservations are required via recreation.gov.

Free, dispersed camping is not available near Vallecito Reservoir. The closest areas to disperse car camp for free will be on the northern end of Lemon Reservoir off of FSR 243.

Maps and Site Resources


Travel Tips for Vallecito Reservoir

  • A valid Colorado fishing license is required to fish in the reservoir.
  • It's free to launch your boat, but you'll need a boating license from the lake management body. Permits are available at many local businesses in Durango.
  • Kayaks, canoes, and SUPs do not need to be inspected or licensed.
  • The best time to fish at Vallecito Reservoir is in the early morning or evening when the sun is not as high in the sky and the water is cooler.
  • The water is supplied by snowmelt from the Weminuche Wilderness to the north and stays quite cold until mid-August.


Accessibility Information

  • The Vallecito Reservoir marina has a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier.
  • The best way to access the water on the eastern side is to park at the Old Timer's Day Use Area.


Care for Durango

  • Know and obey the fire restrictions before heading out.
  • Vault pit toilets are found on both the west and east sides of Vallecito Reservoir.
  • Please pack out all trash and waste including your pet's waste.
  • Dogs must be leashed or otherwise physically restrained. Do not leave pets unattended.
  • Most of the western side of Vallecito Reservoir has little shade cover. Apply and reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Pledge to Care for Durango