Covering 102 acres of Rio Grande County, Colorado, the Beaver Creek Reservoir State Wildlife Area is a beautiful outdoor destination that is popular for fishing, boating, picnicking, and camping. All visitors aged 18 years and older are required to carry a valid state hunting or fishing license when visiting the Beaver Creek Reservoir SWA, or any Colorado state wildlife area.
As the name implies, the Beaver Creek SWA is centered around the Beaver Creek Reservoir, which holds a maximum of 4,400 acre-feet of water and sits at approximately 8400 feet in elevation above sea level. There are no hiking trails, but accessing the water on the sandy beaches and rocky shores.
The Beaver Creek Reservoir Dam is over 100 years old and is very significant in the water management of the San Luis Valley. In the 2010s, significant improvements were made to the dam by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and regular reservoir fish stocking resumed shortly thereafter.
Although there are no trails in the Beaver Creek Reservoir SWA, the lake is a great launching point for exploring the Rio Grande National Forest. Between South Fork and Pagosa Springs, the area boasts hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, OHV, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and more.
Birding and Wildlife: As a large body of water nestled into the mountains of the Rio Grande National Forest, the Beaver Creek Reservoir attracts bird species such as sapsuckers, dippers, rangers, and more. Surrounding the water, visitors may also spot herds of deer or elk and other small mammals.
Boating: Boating is permitted on the Beaver Creek Reservoir, and smaller vessels are preferred. Both motorized and non-motorized boats are permitted for wakeless travel. The boat ramp, parking lot, and designated launch area are located on the southeast shore of the reservoir, near the Cross Creek Campground.
Camping: There are three national forest campgrounds located near the Beaver Creek Reservoir SWA: The Cross Creek Campground, the Upper Beaver Creek Campground, and the Lower Beaver Creek Campground. Each of these developed facilities requires a small fee for an overnight stay, with other primitive camping opportunities available in the surrounding Rio Grande National Forest.
Fishing: The Beaver Creek Reservoir is stocked regularly with fish by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which generally allows for great fishing conditions. With a valid state fishing license, anglers can visit the reservoir year-round as access remains open to ice fishing in the winter. In the water, CPW typically maintains a healthy population of trout and kokanee salmon.
Anglers can fish from a boat or along the shore at one of the designated fishing sites adjacent to the parking areas. Local bagging and possession limits apply and bow-fishing is strictly prohibited.
Picnicking: Picnicking is permitted in the Beaver Creek Reservoir SWA. There is a designated picnic area on the east side of the water, roughly halfway between the northern and southernmost points of the reservoir. There are picnic tables and restrooms for public use, but no drinking water is available on-site.
Address: Forest Rd 360, South Fork, CO 81154
Season: Year-round | Limited camping facilities in winter
Fees: Valid hunting or fishing license (18+)
Maps: cpw.state.co.us… (PDF)