The Silver Jack Reservoir is a beautiful, remote lake located in the Uncompahgre National Forest south of Cimarron, Colorado. With well-maintained facilities, the Silver Jack Reservoir Recreation Area is a popular Gunnison County destination for day-use and overnight visits.
Resting at nearly 9,00 feet in elevation above sea level, the Silver Jack Reservoir has a surface area of 293 acres and a maximum capacity of 13,520 acre-feet. The reservoir is supported by the Cimarron River and the Silver Jack Dam, which was completed by the United States Bureau of Reclamation in 1971.
Most people are drawn to the Silver Jack Reservoir for its isolation, panoramic views of craggy mountain peaks, mixed pine and aspen forests, seasonal wildflowers, and overnight opportunities.
Boating: Boats are permitted on the Silver Jack Reservoir, so long as they are not motorized. There is a natural boat ramp located in the fishing access area, where it is easy to launch kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and other self-propelled watercrafts from the lake’s rocky shores. If the reservoir is low, walking-in boats may be necessary.
Camping: There are a total of 80 developed campsites in the Silver Jack Reservoir Recreation Area. Divided among 3 campgrounds, campsites require a small overnight fee with room for vehicles up to 45 feet. There is potable water at the Silver Jack Reservoir Campground, where the camp host is stationed. All sites are “first-come-first-served,” and include access to clean bathrooms, a fire pit, tent space, and a picnic table.
Dispersed camping is also available on the Uncompahgre National Forest land near the Silver Jack Reservoir. Local regulations under the Ouray Ranger District apply, and dispersed campers must pack out all trash and bury human waste.
Visitors may also rent the Jackson Guard Station Cabin for a small overnight fee. The rustic cabin is located beneath an aspen grove across the street from the reservoir and offers beds and limited kitchen facilities.
Fishing: With a valid Colorado fishing license, visitors are permitted to fish in the Silver Jack Reservoir and its surrounding waters. A license is not required for visitors under the age of 16, and the best fishing access point is located on the east side of the lake, south of the campground.
Aside from boat fishing, the Cimarron River, south of the reservoir, is a very popular fly fishing spot. In both the river and reservoir, anglers have their shot at catching brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and other trout species.
Picnicking: There are no day-use fees for any of the Silver Jack Reservoir Recreation Area facilities located outside of the campground area. Visitors are free to use the picnic tables, restrooms, trails, and parking areas to enjoy the scenery.
Trails: There are several trails surrounding the Silver Jack Reservoir, with trailheads at the campground and on the east side of the lake.
Wildlife & Birding: The Silver Jack Reservoir Recreation Area is frequented by free-range cows and many wildlife species. It’s common to hear coyotes howling and elks bugling at night, although visitors are more likely to encounter deer, foxes, and even bears during the day. In the air and trees, birders may be able to spot woodpeckers, jays, warblers, and other species in the area.
Access to the Silver Jack Reservoir is passable by an ordinary 2WD vehicle, although the well-maintained forest roads could still be tough in some spots. Access to the reservoir is possible while traveling south from Cimarron or while traveling east over Owl Creek Pass from State Highway 550 near Ridgway.
Address: Silver Jack Reservoir, County Road 858, CO 81230
Season: Year-round | Facilities open Memorial Day – Labor Day
Map & Info: fs.usda.gov… (PDF)