San Juan National Forest
Lemon Reservoir, in the upper Florida River Valley west of Vallecito, was constructed in 1963 to provide irrigation water to the agricultural area south of the dam. Here you'll find lake recreation in a less developed setting than Vallecito.
Most of the shoreline is fairly steep, except at the upper end of the lake. Only the east side of the lake is accessible by road. The elevation is approximately 8,100 feet.
Lemon Reservoir is 16 miles northeast of Durango on Florida Road (CR 240) and FDR 596 (CR 243), and 15 miles from Bayfield by CR 501, CR 240, and FDR 596. The access roads are paved to within a mile and a half of the dam.
Fishing is usually good. The reservoir is stocked with trout and kokanee salmon.
Although there are a couple of small stores south of the dam, most services can be found in Vallecito, Durango, or Bayfield.
Creek Campground, about two miles north of the dam, has a concrete boat ramp at its north end. Eleven campsites offer a choice of sun or shade, and an asphalt road surface helps keep the dust down. Five sites share a large, gently sloping parking area. RVs can be leveled without much difficulty.
A footbridge leads across Miller Creek up the hillside toward the main road, to a shady roadside picnic area. Four tables are available free for day use.
The Upper Lemon Day Use Area, a fishing-access site, is 1.5 miles north of Miller Creek.
The Florida Campground is four miles north of Miller Creek above the reservoir. Its 20 sites may be reserved through the Reservation Center. Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, and aspen dominate the area. Private property adjoins the campground on the south side.
A few short pull-thrus and back-in sites can accommodate large RVs. Tent campers can find some well-shaded spots near the river.
Large groups can reserve the Florida Group Campground, just beyond the regular camping area, through the Reservation Center, or by calling the Columbine Ranger District in Bayfield at (303) 884-2512. It accommodates up to 65 people, with six double picnic tables, a buffet table, and four fire grates. There's plenty of parking in the relatively flat area.
Transfer Park Campground is only a mile farther up the road at 8,600 feet. Its 11 acres offer cool settings under mixed conifers and small aspens. Two loops have 25 sites with a mixture of shade and sun, and there are large open play areas. The upper loop is mostly level with several long sites. The lower loop is near the river and has two large sites, a few short pull-thrus, and several excellent tent spots. Sites on this loop can be reserved through the Reservation Center.
The history of Transfer Park can be traced back to the mining era. It was used for transferring ore and supplies between pack mules and wagons.
Parking for the Burnt Timber Trail is near the campground entrance. A popular access trail for the Weminuche Wilderness, it also makes a good, if somewhat strenuous, day hike of two to four miles round trip.
Near the entrance to Florida Campground, the East Florida Road (FDR 597) branches eastward and winds steeply uphill toward Stump Canyon. The Lost Lake and Stump Lake Trails begin along this road. Both offer short, easy hikes to secluded backcountry lakes.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication