Author: Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce April 29, 2017 0

Description of Vallecito Lake

The Blue Spruce RV Park & Cabins is located just north of Vallecito Lake, one of Colorado’s largest and most beautiful mountain lake destinations. We are only 25 miles (about a 45 minute, leisurely forest drive) from Durango. An equally scenic route is from Bayfield about 18 miles, a comfortable 30 minute drive through a picturesque valley with rustic barns and galloping horses. As you approach Vallecito lake you are greeted with the most spectacular views of the San Juan National Forest and Weminuche Wilderness, over 2.5 million acres of public land.

This picture perfect area, nestled in a high alpine mountain valley, a wide variety of year round recreational opportunities. The country stores and restaurants, which are all encompassing, add to the charm and casualness of the area.

Vallecito Lake can boast . . . we have four seasons of fun and adventure. The summer offers cool mountain air filled with the scent of fresh pine that is perfect for biking, hiking, horseback riding and boating. The fall offers spectacular golden aspens and bright red oak – scenery that inspires photographers and beckons the big game hunter. Winter provides a wonderland for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sleigh riding and peaceful relaxation.

Blue Spruce April 11, 2017 0


Hiking Trails Around Vallecito


View of Pine River Road, Forest service #602

Pine River Trail – Easy-Moderate.
Continue around the north end of Lake (CR 501) After Middle Mountain Road and end of pavement Turn left on the Pine River turnoff at FS #602.(at Elk Point Stables) Take the road 3.8 miles to the Pine River Campground and Trailhead. The Pine alternates between meadows and canyon, frequently flowing peacefully on the flat valley floor. The boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness is 2.7 miles up the trail, the fishing is fantastic, and the turnoff to Emerald Lake is at mile 6.3 (Trail #528). The trail continues to ascend, sometimes gradually and sometimes moderately.

Vallecito Creek Trail – Easy/Moderate
From CR 501 continue to North end of the Lake and bear left (North) for 2.8 miles on CR 500 to reach Vallecito Campground and trailhead parking. A stunning day hike on the first few miles of the trail, or a wonderful four-to-five day backpack trip. You follow a rapid flowing creek tumbling down a narrow glacial valley; the creek is among the loveliest in the West. The first 2 miles you rise 500 feet or more above the creek with fantastic vistas, and then drop down right beside the creek. There are many side trails that lead to wonderful polls, great for fishing or relaxing. Continuing to the first foot bridge at 3 miles is a great day hike. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. In the spring the creek is a committed Class v+ whitewater run for experts only. In the winter a popular snow shoeing trail.

Lake Eileen Trail – More Difficult
From 501 continue north watch for the Forest Service Work Center, and the trailhead is on opposite side of road a Trailhead sign is visible from the road
Parking is available on the right and the trailhead is on the leftThe trail passes through aspen forests to the small, shallow lake covered by water lilies and surrounded by aspen trees. A short climb to the ridge gives you great views of the lake and Forests. All though only four miles round trip, with a 1140 ft elevation gain we are calling a four hour trip.

The Lakes Trail – Easy
There are many portions of this trail that skirts the edge of the Lake. Look for the Lake Trail signs and parking areas as you drive along the Lake on 501, there are benches and picnic tables along the way and plenty of fine fishing spots. There is a “Flowers from the Lake Trails” brochure available to help you identify the wildflowers.

Cave Basin Trail – Most difficult, map compass skills suggested
Continue on 501 all the way around the Lake, when you start heading south, Middle Mountain Road and the parking area will be on your left. Continue up middle Mountain Road (gravel forest service road) to the turn off at the ten mile marker. Cave Basin Trail begins at an elevation of 10,800 feet and if you go all the way, ending at an elevation of 12,360′ (Overlook of Emerald Lake). Ten miles round trip, but any portion of is great way to experience some high elevation hiking. The trail starts off wide and well defined but disappears, after about 3 miles due to the gray limestone that forms benches. Use your map and compass skills to progress across gray limestone benches, past meadows and sinkholes. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. This area offers excellent views and photographic possibilities. As with all high-altitude areas, storms can move in rapidly, bringing severe wind, lightning, rain, snow, or hail any time of the year. Plan accordingly.

Tukerville Trail – Easy
Follow directions to Cave Basin Trail and continue to the end of road 11 miles to an open area which was the mining town of Tukerville. Although all the building have been removed, there were 6 bunkhouses, shop, and a mess hall, in full operation from 1920 to 1929. There are many trails leaving from there, some starting as ATV trails. If you bear left you will reach a wonderful overlook where the mines were in the cliffs below.

North Canyon Trail, East Creek Trail, Graham Creek Trail.
Look for Trailhead signs on the gravel road 501A, which is a continuation CR 501 on east side of Lake. You acess 501A by driving around north end of Lake until your going south, or driving over the Dam road.These Trails head up the ridges on the East side of Lake, following creeks with water falls to open meadows.

Blue Spruce April 11, 2017 0

Helpful Links

Links to help plan your vacation.

Chambers of Commerce

Vallecito Lake
Pagosa Springs

Transportation & Weather

Transportation & Road Conditions

Pet Care Services

We welcome well behaved pets. We also know your pet may need care while you are out on an adventure. Ask us about the local dog walker who lives just 2 miles from the park.

Here is a list of other local pet care services:

Quality and Affordable Pet Care
Seth and Cindy Hoogeboom
Alamo Grande Pet Resort
Ignacio, Colorado

Durango Animal Hospital
Durango, Colorado

Puppy Love Boarding Kennels
Durango, Colorado

Wild Haven
Indoor/outdoor runs and closer to our area.

Recreation Services

Out-of-state OHVs

Out-of-state residents who bring OHVs into Colorado must purchase a Colorado Non-Resident OHV permit which is valid from the date of purchase through the following March 31. These permits can be purchased anywhere you get your hunting/fishing licenses in Colorado, via mail-in request, or you can order one online at the Colorado State Parks E-Store.


Guaranteed Lowest prices


Fishing Guide

Eric “Diamond” Fenstermacher

27 Years Experience
2nd in the World – RCL Tournament 2004
1st Place – RCL Tournament, Winnegeg River, 2004
7 Top 3 Finishes on Vallecito Lake
Work: 970-884-9477
Home: 970-769-0309

Boat & ATV Rentals

Doc’s Marina

Stan Folsom
14452 CR 501
Bayfield, CO 81122

ATV’s at Vallecito Lake

18071 CR 501
Bayfield, CO 81122
970 769 4902

Bike, Board & Ski Rentals

Hassle Free Sports

Ski and bike rentals, repairs and sales.
2615 Main Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

Horse Stables & Outfitters

Big Corral/Vallecito Lake Outfitters

Denney H. and Carol Schilthuis
17716 CR 501
Bayfield, CO 81122

Elk Point Stables

Lark and J. R. Kokesh
21730 CR 501
Bayfield, CO 81122

Area Activites & Attractions

DURANGO TOURISM OFFICE- Local calender of events and links to other activies at

Bar D Chuckwagon

Diamond Circle Melodrama & Vaudeville

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum

The Henry Strater Theatre

Durango Soaring Club, Inc.

Flexible Flyers Rafting

Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Trail Tours -970-247-4789

Discover the magic of river rafting and guided jeep tours with Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Trail Tours in Southwest Colorado. They offer 77 trip options for ages 4 to 84. Options include whitewater rafting adventures on rafts or inflatable kayaks, beginner stand-up paddle boarding instruction, jeep trail tours and packages with a one-way ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train. Experience why Mild to Wild has earned the most referrals and repeat customers!

Mountain Waters Rafting

New Air Helicopters

Sky Ute Lodge & Casino

State of Colorado Tourism Information
The Colorado Directory of cabins, lodges, campgrounds, bed & breakfasts and fun things to do such as fishing, rafting, hunting & skiing. As well as, a detailed regional Colorado map section at

Blue Spruce April 4, 2017 0

Surrounding Area


Approximately 23 miles from Blue Spruce RV Park & Cabins, is a community with a Victorian downtown filled with shops, galleries, restaurants and local breweries. Several whitewater rafting companies are headquartered here. The Henry Strater Theatre is located in the Strater Hotel where you can attend a melodrama or vaudeville show. Pamper yourself at the Trimble Hot Springs.

The Durango Mountain Ski Resort is located 25 miles north of town. Durango is the southern terminal of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train is a coal-fired steam locomotive that makes a daily roundtrip between Durango and Silverton.

Durango hosts a number of music festivals. For those interested in classical music, please visit Music in the Mountains. The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College offers year round events.



The northern terminal of the Durango-Silverton Railroad. Silverton was once a booming mining town. Today, Silverton is loaded with great places to shop, eat, hike, sight see and just enjoy being in the mountains. Located at over 9,000 feet elevation, Silverton was one of the mining hubs of the late 1800’s and many old mining structures still can be seen right in town and via four-wheel drive trips.


Mesa Verde

Located approximately 60 miles west of Durango, this National Park encompasses 80 square miles. It contains some of the world’s larger and best-preserved cliff dwellings. Cliff Palace is the largest and most famous of the Cliff dwellings. Experience the world of those early inhabitants of Mesa Verde. Ponder why people came here, and how they flourished within this challenging, high desert environment. Learn how social and religious structures developed into the ways still followed by contemporary Puebloan peoples across the Southwest. Compliment your understanding of today’s cultures with valuable insights about the past. Be sure to leave time to visit the Far View Visitor Center, which is open during the summer (early June through Labor Day Weekend) or the Chapin Mesa Museum which is open 8 am-6:30 pm during the summer and 8am-5pm during the rest of the year.



You can view the rich cultural heritage of the Southern Ute Indians. Visit the Sky-Ute Casino for a little gambling, bingo and goood food.



McPhee Reservoir, the second largest lake in Colorado offers fishing, camping and boating. The Anasazi Heritage Center is located here. It was built as a place to preserve and display the extensive collection from the archaeological sites identified during the reservoir excavation. The Dolores River is known as one of the top rivers in the nation for excellent fly-fishing!


Hovenweep National Monument

Approximately 40 miles west of Cortez. The monument contains the remains of many-roomed pueblos, small cliff dwellings and towers. Stop at the Ranger station for directions before attempting to explore this Monument. Visit Hovenweep National Monument to learn more.


Pagosa Springs

Located approximately 50 miles east of Bayfield. This community is the home of the largest natural hot springs in the United States. The water is claimed to have healing powers and comes out of the earth at 153 degrees. Visit The Springs Resort to learn more.












Blue Spruce April 4, 2017 0

Local Activities

Forest Access

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.


Lakeside Activities

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 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 a 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.


Winter Activities

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).





Blue Spruce April 4, 2017 0

Mileage Chart

Mileage Chart or How Close is It To . . .

Destination Miles
Albuquerque 240
Bayfield 15
Cortez 78
Dallas 860
Denver 330
Durango 23
Durango Mountain Resort 52
Farmington 72
Grand Junction 170
Mesa Verde 72
Pagosa Springs 57
Phoenix 480
Salt Lake City 440
Santa Fe 200
Wolf Creek Ski Area 60
Blue Spruce April 3, 2017 0

A Brief History

Come experience a region rich with the history and culture of the Wild West. Long before the French and Spanish explorers arrived, the area’s first inhabitants occupied the region in rock shelters and pithouses. For more than 1,000 years before the ancestral Pueblo and Hopi clans began chiseling stones for their cliff houses at Mesa Verde the Ancient Puebloans (300 B.C. to 800 A. D.) inhabited the Animas Valley and its environs hunting, fishing and farming corn and squash.

The descendants of the area’s first inhabitants continue to live in the southwestern corner of what is now Colorado. Once a tribe of seven loosely aligned bands, Colorado’s Ute Indians now consist of two tribes, the Southern Utes (a blend of Capote and Mouache bands) and the Ute Mountain Utes, known as the Weenuche.

In the 1990’s, having survived a century of struggle and loss of their lands and culture through treaties and broken promises, the Southern Ute’s gained control over production and extraction of the natural resources deposited under the reservation land the Tribe had been forced onto . . . and so began their success story. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is
one of the largest energy producing entities in the Southwest and the largest employer (Indians and non-Indians) in La Plata County. The revenues from the energy production are being diversified to ensure that the Southern Ute people are provided for in perpetuity. Learn more about the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s economic recovery and development is based on their casino and tourism at the Ute Mountain Tribal Park. Learn more about the Learn more about the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe.

Before the settlers in this country caught “gold fever”, the Spanish and French were sent over by their leaders in Europe to search for mineral treasure. They are known to have come very near to and perhaps into Vallecito in their search for precious minerals and food. The Spanish are known to have roamed much of the West in their search for treasure. The French are known to have come only as far as the Continental Divide, above Pagosa Springs and Vallecito.

A new chapter in the region began in 1860 when explorer Charles Baker found flecks of gold sparkling in a stream above what is now known as Silverton. It was the promise of gold that lured so many eager miners to the mountainous country around Vallecito. When early settlers became disillusioned after struggling in their search to find gold year after year, they decided to settle for other occupations, such as farming, ranching or perhaps working for or starting a business venture.

The Good ‘Ol Days A Ute Indian by the name of Jim Weaselskin found a source of gold somewhere up the Vallecito River and would pay for food and favors with gold nuggets. However, the first actual discovery of precious minerals near Vallecito was at Cave Basin in August of 1913. Cave Basin is located on Middle Mountain, which lies between Vallecito and the Pine River. The main mining area at Cave Basin was called Tuckerville. A five-foot vein of good copper and galena (lead ore) was found. As hard as the miners tried to keep this exciting news under cover, the secret was soon out and hordes of eager men soon followed.

What about the gold? Well, the stories of Weaselskin’s hidden stash have some substance. Many have searched for the treasure over the years. As far as we know, no one has found it – yet!