About 12 miles southwest of Yampa, Colorado, the Yamcolo Reservoir is a scenic, 175-acre lake located in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of the Routt National Forest. Yamcolo Reservoir can be reached on Forest Service Rd 900, a rough, unpaved road on which a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
Access to Yamcolo Reservoir is generally open from June until the end of September and there are no fees for day use of the reservoir and its amenities. And although the mailing address for the campground and reservoir is Meeker, Yampa is the closer town.
Yamcolo Reservoir History
The Yamcolo Reservoir was developed to support ranchers in and around the Upper Yampa Valley for irrigation. The dam was completed in 1980, and the Yamcolo Reservoir was created with a maximum capacity of 9,621 acre-feet. Today, the reservoir and hydroelectric dam continue to supply water and electricity to residents of Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties of Colorado.
Activities at Yamcolo Reservoir
Birding and Wildlife: The Yamcolo Reservoir is in a densely-forested, remote location, which makes it great for birdwatching and viewing wildlife. Here, visitors may be able to see warblers, sparrows, ptarmigans, pipits, elk, deer, moose, coyotes, and more.
Boating: A public boat ramp is located on the west end of the Yamcolo Reservoir, near the campground. Electric and gas motorboats, as well as hand-powered watercraft, are permitted for use on the lake. The Yamcolo Reservoir is the only body of water in the area that permits gas-powered motors, but canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards are also popular on the lake.
Camping: On the west end of the Yamcolo Reservoir, the Bear Lake Campground is open from late May until mid-October. Campsites may not be reserved in advance and vary in pricing based on size. Each site contains a picnic table, a fire grate, and access to toilets and potable water.
Further down along Rd 900, the US Forest Service maintains the Stillwater, Horseshoe, and Cold Springs Campgrounds for seasonally available, first-come, first-served campsites. Beyond this, dispersed camping is also available in designated sites in the area.
Fishing: Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks the Yamcolo Reservoir with a variety of species including rainbow, brown, and brook trout. A valid state fishing license is required to fish in the Yamcolo Reservoir as well as nearby waters. Namely, anglers looking for shore fishing are usually drawn to the nearby Bear Lake Fishing Pier.
Hiking: Although developed trails are limited around the Yamcolo Reservoir, there are a few great hiking areas located nearby in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Notably, the Mandall Lakes, Stillwater, and Smith Lake trails are all within a short distance of the Yamcolo Reservoir.
Picnicking: The Bear Lake Picnic Area is located adjacent to the Bear Lake Campground, between the Yamocolo and Upper Stillwater Reservoirs. Toilets, picnic tables, and drinking water are all provided by the National Forest Service for visitors to use at no cost.
Address: Yamcolo Reservoir, Meeker, CO 81641
Season: May to October
Fees: Camping and additional overnight vehicles fees only, no day-use fees