Vallecito Lake

Vallecito Lake is considered to be one of Colorado’s most beautiful bodies of water and is a great destination to include in your adventure to Durango or Mesa Verde. Many visitors ask, What does Vallecito mean? Vallecito is a Spanish word that means ‘Little Valley.’ Vallecito lake elevation is 8,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the lush San Juan National Forest.

Vallecito Lake in Colorado is a beautiful, secluded mountain valley just 18 miles from Durango.  The lake has about 12 miles of shoreline and sits right in the middle of the San Juan National Forest. Staying in Durango but want to visit the lake? Try a day trip out to Vallecito Lake to check it out! You might want to spend the day on the lake or just exploring what Vallecito has to offer. It’s been said that Vallecito Lake is one of Durango’s best kept secrets; be sure you’re not left out!

vallecito lake cabins

Vallecito Lake Cabins

A real vacation destination. Spend your off time away from the heat and bustle of downtown. Rent an affordable private Vacation Home or Vacation Cabin, Many located near a lake, on a stream or with a fabulous view. All are just minutes from downtown. Three lodging businesses have joined efforts to assist you in finding just the right accommodations in a vacation home or cabin at the lake.

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pine river lodge vallecito

Pine River Lodge

Pine River Lodge offers a large variety of Mountain Vacation Cabins sleeping 2 to 11 guests with views of Vallecito Lake. Some cabins are lakeshore, others have lake views and many have wood fireplaces. Enjoy our heated indoor pool, huge old fashioned playground/picnic area, game room with ping pong table, pool table and piano and the most beautiful moon shimmering over the lake with a multitude of stars overhead.

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About Vallecito Lake

Vallecito Lake area is a perfect Durango getaway for summer fishing vacations, fall fly fishing, even winter ice fishing. While visiting southwest Colorado you can enjoy a beautiful vacation right here at the lake. There are plenty of vacation rentals and a handful of restaurants and fun things to do from boating, camping, and fishing to hiking and horseback riding. Try taking some picturesque hikes through the mountains or relax by fishing in the lake. Or simply relax on the porch on one of the many Vallecito lake cabins with a good book and a glass of wine.

Vallecito Lake boasts a new community center located at the northwest end of Vallecito Lake. Located at 17252 County Road 501, this facility is one of the newest and most modern event venues in the Four Corners region. It is one of very few locations on the shore of this beautiful lake. It is the perfect place for your wedding or most any type of gathering. Consider a business retreat or family reunion at Vallecito Lake. The location and views are stunning–the perfect retreat that might just become the highlight to your Durango experience.


Where is Vallecito Lake?

Vallecito Lake is located 18 miles from Durango, Colorado in Bayfield, CO.


Things to do in Vallecito Lake

Enjoy a plethora of outdoor and seasonal activities in Vallecito that will keep you entertained and having fun: adults and kids alike. Here are some recommended activities in the area.

Vallecito Lake Camping. Camping at Lake Vallecito is very popular. Visitors enjoy the area for its boat rentals, hiking trail and fishing opportunities which are set amid a natural setting of ponderosa pine, gambel oak trees and aspen.

Vallecito Lake Boat Rentals. From boating, kayaking and canoeing, to paddle boarding, there are many ways to get out on the water at Lake Vallecito, Colorado. Free public boat ramp access is available, but you will need boating permit issued by the lake recreation management agency. Permits are sold at many local businesses or at the agency’s office, Pine River Irrigation District (PRID). Contact them at 970-884-2558.

Vallecito Lake Fishing. Fishing is a year-round activity at Vallecito — Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. The annual Ice Fishing Tournament is held every year during February with cash and prizes. And if you call yourself a fisherman, you should experience the salmon run, which occurs late fall, mid-November up until mid-December. Vallecito Reservoir is home to several large species of fish such as northern pike, brown and rainbow trout. Pike fishing is best from May 15 to June 15 while Browns are fished all year round. This is one of the best locations to catch a record-breaking Rainbow, German Brown or Cutthroat Trout. Visitors also can catch Kokanee Salmon.  View Colorado fishing regulations here. Fishing licenses are required for any angler over the age of 16. Licenses can be purchased atvarious local businesses in Durango or online.

Vallecito Lake Hiking. Lake Vallecito has lots of great hiking trails in the area to give you the chance to clear your mind and commune with nature. There are 7 different trails to cover all skill levels of hiking difficulty with some half day hikes up to full day or several days to complete. Pick the one that best sets your pace, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way.

Vallecito Lake Hunting. The wilderness surrounding Vallecito Lake and Durango area is vast, supporting a large population of wild game like elk and mule deer as well as elusive quarry such as bear and mountain lion. Durango and the Vallecito Lake region offers an array of outfitters ready to equip hunters for what many call the best elk hunting in the Western states. Your options include hunting public lands like the national forest or finding a customized experience at a game ranch. Learn more about hunting in Durango and the San Juan Mountain area.

Tour of Carvings. It’s been said that the lake is one of Durango’s best kept secrets; be sure you’re not left out! Back in 2002, a fire destroyed a large area. Today, new growth is evident. A very unique homage can be viewed. There are several unique carvings of damaged trees near the lake. As you drive around, you will see the tree carvings which were done by artist Chad Haspels. Chad’s unique carvings commemorate the firefighters, EMTs, personnel, and citizens who fought to save lives and homes during the fire of 2002.

Need more ways to enjoy your time? Vallecito Lake has many more activities you can participate in such as ATV rentals, skiing, camping, and horseback riding. You and the family will be able to fill your time with what ever your heart desires.


Where to Stay in Vallecito Lake

Pine River Lodge offers a large variety of Mountain Vacation Cabins sleeping 2 to 11 guests with views Pine River Lodge of Vallecito Lake. Some Vallecito lake cabins are lake shore, others have lake views and many have wood fireplaces. Each individual cabin has a full kitchen, AC, BBQ grill, fire pit, patio furniture, basic satellite TV & VCR. WiFi, guest computer & printer are located in the office. Enjoy our heated indoor pool, huge old fashioned playground/picnic area, game room with ping pong table, pool table and piano and the most beautiful moon shimmering over the lake with a multitude of stars overhead. Vallecito also offers fishing, marinas, horseback riding, restaurants and unlimited hiking. Fall deer and elk hunting too.