Get yourself settled in at the Blue Spruce RV Park & Cabins and you’ll find you are at the gateway to the San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness: cascading rivers, glacial valleys and the seemingly unreachable summits of skyscraping granite that cast magical reflections in alpine pools. View Map.
The San Juan mountain region is full of mining camps and ghost towns that were centers of activity over a century ago. Many towns have withstood the test of time; others are in various stages of decay. The ruins can be accessed via hiking trails, 4×4/atv roads and 2 wheel forest roads.
One of the best ways to experience the area is to get out and explore the many forest service roads available to you. Middle Mountain Road is 11 miles long reaching 10,400 ft elevation – after that it’s four wheel drive time. The old mining town of Tuckerville is at the end of the road, but not before you pass high elevation vistas and wild flowers galore. Pine River Road follows the river to the national forest trail head. Enjoy the beauty of many open valleys and waterfalls. Florida Road, out of Lemon Reservoir, goes up pass Lost Lake to Endlich Mesa, a high flat plateau dotted with small lakes.
The Vallecito Reservoir, where water from the Pine and Vallecito Creek is impounded, has facilities for swimming, picnicking, boating, and fishing. The surface area of the reservoir at maximum capacity is 2,720 acres. Whether you take a boat out or sit along the shore enjoying an afternoon picnic, the lake has something to offer everyone.
B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Boat). What, you don’t have your own boat? Well, that’s no problem. Boat rentals (small fishing, large pontoon, pleasure boats and canoes) are available from one of Vallecito’s full service marinas. With 22 miles of shoreline there is plenty of exploring to do whether you are catching the fish or catching the site of a bald eagle or ospreys soaring overhead.
Make fishing easy? Hire friend of the park and local fishing guide Eric Diamond (that is Eric in the middle with the “Catch of the Day”). He has twenty years’ experience fishing on the lake and provides everything you need to catch that big fish. Learn all about the history, wildlife, weather, and local info in and about Vallecito Lake. You may even hear one of his cowboy songs.
Fishing, you ask? Of course – both fly and conventional fishing! The lake provides a great variety of fish such as brown trout, rainbow trout, northern pike, walleyes, small mouth bass and kokanee salmon. Full service marinas can outfit you with boats, tackle, rods, license and bait.
For those who seek more of a wilderness experience, the Pine River offers 50 miles of exquisite back country fly-fishing between the boundary of the Wilderness area and the Continental Divide. The upper Pine is entirely hike-in water where you will find wild fish (rainbows, brookies, browns and cutthroats).
Access to the river begins at the Pine River Trail head east of Vallecito Reservoir at Granite Peak Ranch. The first 3 miles of river above the trail head, as well as the trail itself, passes through the private ranch. No fishing is permitted on the ranch, and hikers into the wilderness must stay on the trail until reaching the national forest boundary.
Fat or skinny tires, there are unlimited miles of trails and roads. Mountain bikes and hybrids are the best choice around the Valley. Although the roads are paved around the west side of the Lake, it is strenuous effort from there. The east side has hard packed dirt/gravel roads, with many trails down and around the lakes edge. Going across the dam provides one with great views up to the Continental Divide or down into the valley. Pine River Road follows the river through a beautiful valley to the trail head at 7 miles.
For those with skinny tires, a ride to Durango, Bayfield or Lemon Dam offers miles of meandering roadways with roomy shoulders and beautiful scenery. You’re sure to meet up with locals who will welcome you to “hop on the back” and enjoy their camaraderie!
Hiking / Backpacking
Vallecito Creek Trail is a wonderful day trip just a half-mile from Blue Spruce RV Park. Picnic tables are next to the creek where fishing, hiking and simply relaxing are at its best. The trail begins with a resplendence of natural beauty. Unfolding before your eyes are tiny pools, waterfalls and steep canyon walls. Rising high above the gorge you observe a geological phenomenon called glacial pudding. Slowly descend back down with a watchful eye and you will discover many wild flowers in the wilderness, daisies, violets, columbine and fireweed to name a few. View aerial photos of the Vallecito Creek Trail. It is no wonder Trails.com rates this a four star hike. Discover the pleasures of nature with a walk into the Weminuche Wilderness Area.
The Weminuche is an outdoor adventurer’s nirvana. Hikers can explore for days on its 500 miles of trails. Fisherman will find trout hiding in innumerable lakes and streams. Climbers will find the fourteeners in the Needles some of the easier climbs. Several of the thirteeners that dot the wilderness are even greater challenges. Looking for wildlife? You may spot deer, elk, black bear, eagles and if really lucky, bighorn sheep or cougar.
A great source of trail information is the web site for the San Juan National Forest. Check the list of Columbine Ranger District trails in the Pine River drainage for helpful information and maps.
There is no better way to explore this country than on the back of your faithful trail horse. Hourly rides, day rides, all day rides, cowboy breakfast rides, high country and wilderness rides, sunset dinner rides, pack trips, drop camps and fall hunts. Contact one of the local stables and cowboy up for the ride of your life.
The area around Vallecito Reservoir is renowned for both fishing and hunting. The region has fantastic large game habitat for Elk, Mule Deer and Bear. It is a beautiful country and a popular hunters’ staging area.
The San Juan’s include Game Management Units 70 thru 78. Questions on where to go and how to get there? Call the San Juan Mountain Association Bookstore at (970) 247-4874. Questions on licenses and regulations? Call the Colorado Division of Wildlife at (970) 247-0855. Looking for an outfitter, contact one of the local services.
Vallecito Lake is a magical winter wonderland. We are renting kids and adult snowshoes this year. Experience cross-country skiing around or across the frozen lake. The Pine River Nordic Club offers groomed trails free of charge. Groomed snowmobile trails are maintained by the San Juan Sledders. Use Vallecito as your winter headquarters for ski vacation or activities such as cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, or just relaxing in front of a warming fire. The Blue Spruce RV Park & Cabins is centrally located between Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort(52 Miles) and the Wolf Creek Ski Area(60 Miles).