On the western side of the continental divide, the Ruedi Reservoir sits roughly 15 miles above Basalt, Colorado. The reservoir was created by the construction of the Ruedi Dam, and is located within the White River National Forest at 7,766 feet of elevation.
With nearly 1,000 acres of surface water, the Ruedi Reservoir straddles the border between Pitkin and Eagle counties. At the base of the dam, the City of Aspen controls a hydroelectric power plant that was built in 1985 and continues to generate electricity.
To get to the Ruedi Reservoir, simply head east on Frying Pan Road from Basalt, Colorado north of Aspen. The reservoir is approximately 18 miles or a half hour drive from State Highway 82 and is closed in the winter.
Ruedi Reservoir History
The United States Bureau of Reclamation constructed the Rudei Dam from 1964 to 1968. As more and more water was being diverted to the eastern slope of the continental divide, the Ruedi Reservoir was created to ensure the water interests of inhabitants on the western side. Recreation quickly became popular on the reservoir, as the Aspen Yacht Club was founded in 1968 to promote the development of sailing.
Before the reservoir flooded the area, the settlement of Ruedi, Colorado thrived as a part of the area’s silver mining boom. The town, dam, and reservoir all bear the name of Swiss immigrant John Ruedi, who inhabited the Fryingpan River Valley.
Activities at Ruedi Reservoir
The Ruedi Reservoir is extremely popular for recreational purposes. Here are some of the activities that have many people flocking to the area.
Biking: Road biking is common, but shared with motorists along Fryingpan Road towards Ruedi Reservoir from Basalt. Surround the lake, mountain bikes are permitted on the Ruedi Trail, which climbs to a number of scenic overlooks.
Birding: The Ruedi Reservoir and Fryingpan River Valley are home to a variety of unique bird species. Among common Colorado birdlife, visitors may be able to spot a Cordilleran Flycatcher, Common Merganser, American Dipper, or Western Tanager.
Boating: With so much room out on the water, the Ruedi Reservoir is extremely popular for all kinds of marine experiences. Motorized boats, sailboats, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes are all permitted on the reservoir. To protect the ecosystem, mandatory boat inspections are required.
Whereas there are no places to rent boats directly on the lake, chartered trips are available from private companies. SUP reservations can also be made through Carbondale’s Shaboomee.
Camping: Surrounding the reservoir, there are many campsites in a handful of Forest Service developed campgrounds. There are sites large enough for RVs and trailers, with all campgrounds providing water and vault toilets. The vehicular size limit is 45 feet and there are no hookups available.
Read about the camping near Basalt, Snowmass and Aspen.
Fishing: Fishing is very popular at the Ruedi Reservoir. The massive body of water is home to many reproducing fish species including lake trout and giant mackinaw. Ruedi Reservoir is also stocked with kokanee salmon and rainbow trout.
Hiking: There are many hiking opportunities in the White River National Forest surrounding the Ruedi Reservoir from the campgrounds and day use areas. To get a great look at the reservoir from above, many hikers choose to take the 4.1-mile moderately difficult Fryingpan Overlook trail.
Horseback Riding: D & G Horses and Outfitting is located just east of the reservoir in Meredith, Colorado. The company provides horseback riding, hunting, and fishing trips of various lengths and itinerary.
Hunting: In the surrounding White River National Forest, hunting is very popular for big game, small game, and waterfowl. A hunting license is required.
Picnicking: The Freeman Mesa Picnic Site is one of the most popular and isolated places to have a picnic on the north side of the lake. There is also a picnic area located close to the campgrounds as well as the Rocky Fork Picnic Site at the base of the dam.
Swimming: Swimming is permitted in the Ruedi Reservoir.
Address: John Marina, Basalt, CO 81621
Season: March to October
Fees: Camping Fees
Map: Fryingpan Valley and Ruedi Reservoir Detail Map (PDF)
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