On the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, the Stillwater Reservoir is a scenic alpine lake located southwest of Yampa, Colorado. The Stillwater Reservoir rests at 10,259 ft (3,127 m) in northeast Garfield County.
It offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, and camping in the surrounding White River and Routt national forests. To reach the reservoir, a short walk is necessary from the parking area. Parking is limited and fills up quickly during peak seasons as the area is becoming increasingly popular.
Stillwater Reservoir History
The Yampa Water Conservancy District developed the Stillwater Reservoir alongside the neighboring Upper Stillwater Reservoir and Yamcolo Reservoir along Bear River. The dams and water storage facilities were built to serve ranchers in the area while expanding the local fishing capacity.
Activities at Stillwater Reservoir
Upon arrival at the Stillwater Reservoir, visitors are greeted with an interpretive trail that offers a leisurely and informative walk to the shore and around the area. At the trailhead, there is a small parking lot with a vault toilet, but no drinking water on site.
Boating: Non-motorized boats are permitted on the Stillwater Reservoir. Primarily used for fishing, kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and other hand-propelled water crafts are popular here. For heavier vessels, visitors should consider the Yamcolo Reservoir, which has a public boat ramp.
Camping: There are no campsites directly on the Stillwater Reservoir and creating new, dispersed sites in the area is strictly prohibited. In addition to a few designated dispersed sites, along Forest Road 900, the US Forest Service maintains both the Cold Springs and Horseshoe campgrounds.
All campsites in the area are first-come, first-served, and fees are applied if staying in either developed campground. The Cold Springs Campground offers seasonal drinking water, whereas the Horseshoe Campground does not. Each site in both campgrounds has a picnic table, fire right, and access to vault toilets.
Read about the camping near Yampa and Flat Tops.
Fishing: With a valid state fishing license, fishing is permitted in the Stillwater Reservoir and surrounding waters. Licensed anglers can fly-fish or use a spin rod to catch the area’s native rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout.
Hiking & Backpacking: During the summer, the Stillwater Trailhead is a great launching point for hikes of all lengths and difficulties. From the dam, hikers have the choice of the North Derby Trail or the East Fork Trail to begin exploring the wilderness area. Beyond the reservoir, many hikers choose to enjoy the panoramic, ridgeline views from the Devil’s Causeway.
Wildlife Viewing: Around the Stillwater Reservoir, visitors frequently spot geese, sheep, elk, deer, foxes, and other Rocky Mountain wildlife. The dense tree coverage in the area allows the ecosystem to thrive, despite its growing popularity among tourists.
Season: Year-round, access limited by snow in winter
Fees: Camping and extra vehicle fees
Maps: Routt NF Recreation Map (PDF)