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We stopped by and spoke with the camp host and took a tour of the campground. Was told that this campground is 1st come 1st available spots, no reservations taken. We had also visited the other near by campgrounds managed by the forest service and felt this campground had the nicest views of the lake was Middle Mountain campground and next time up this way would definitely try and stay here. Almost all the spots and no services but did see location to get fresh water and saw a couple of restrooms. Tall pines all abound. 14 day limit.
Plan your next trip here!! I grew up a few miles away. it has always been great, it is better now. The campgrounds are spread all throughout the lake which reaches from Northern New Mexico into Colorado.
The Marina is newly remodeled and expansive. There are bass fishing tournaments, every type of boat rental, lake houses, a fishing area for kids, and much more.
The fishing at this lake and the San Juan river are world renowned. The river has a few guided tour companies, but Abe’s is the best. They have a store, gas, restaurant, and hotel.
The area is great whether you are in CO or NM. Durango, CO is a short drive away on the edge of the mountains. Ignacio houses a Casino and hotel nearby as well.
We camped at Vallecito for a week in July of 2019. The water to the reservoir was pleasantly over capacity (a joy after a drought) but meant that the water line was well into the brush making swimming a challenge among the branches and driftwood that would tangle little feet. I saw signs that I assume were supposed to be at a beach, twenty feet out into the lake. I would imagine that this would be a great swimming hole when the lake was at a normal capacity.
The campground was typical for a forest service campground. There are vault toilets and the host comes around once per day. There is a dumpster. There is clean water.
The campground is almost entirely shaded by tall pines. There is a creek that trickles past some of the campsites (which makes for a pleasant sound when lying in the tent at night).
Noise travels over the water and through this area like it doesn't at many other campgrounds. While overall, I found the campground to be quiet and peaceful, neighbors arguing a few campgrounds down, or being rowdy by the fire, will keep the light sleeper awake at night.
There are many RV parks on the other side of the lake (about a 20-30 minute drive from North Canyon) where showers can be purchased for about $5. Call ahead. There is small store on the other side of the lake too, but it was closed when we went trough.There is a camp store in an RV park only a few miles away from North Canyon where a camper could likely purchases supplies. Bayfield has many amenities.
The campgrounds on the East side of Vallecito are all located on a very well maintained dirt road. If driving to the camp from Bayfield be sure to take a right before the dam. We camped in a large group of people, and most of them missed this turn. Trying to drive around the lake will create two problems. The first is the addition of an hour to your drive time. Secondly, a couple miles north of North Canyon Campground, the road ceases to be well maintained (this questionable area is not marked as a road on all maps and is likely seasonal). There is a dirt road that will connect the North to the East--however, but many vehicles and trailers are not recommended to pass through. To drive through it will look as though the traveller is going through at least two different, private campgrounds. They will pass a warning sign about the road conditions, and they will have to go up a steep grade and around a sharp corner. The dirt road is minimally maintained. Having said that, I arrived at Vallecito from the North after and 4 day wilderness trek in the Weminuche, so I wanted to investigate this stretch of dirt road. I was able to pass through with my minivan (nicknamed VanJeep). Needless to say, it would be better to take the right before the dam!
Sits on the West side of the San Juan about 3 river miles below the dam and across from the Crusher Hole ramp. No pull out for your drift boat on the camp side. About 2/3rds of the sites are very well shaded, most have covered picnic tables and are a mix of asphalt and concrete pads. Bathrooms were very clean. It was Labor Day weekend but the evenings were quiet and the Campground never felt crowded. Easy access to the river from the campground and several hiking trails nearby including some neat ruins. There is about 2miles of dirt road to access but was well maintained. You are a short drive to gas, food and even a winery.
If you don't have a boat or fancy water toys.. Sims Mesa is where you should go. Much less crowded than the main marina. We camped at the Lakeshore Camping area. Several sites available right on the lake, just steps away from the water. Bathrooms available. Water and trash available just a short walk. Dogs are supposed to be leashed, but a lot of people don't seem to follow this rule. Not much shade on the Lakeshore, so make sure to bring something for the day time.
Heavy use and most sites very close to each other. Several people ran generators but I'm guessing not an issue during less peak weekends. Otherwise wonderful place close to lake shore when it's full. Could be a tricky walk if it's down. It was beautiful and cool temps.
It’s a good campground. It’s just a little dated. We stayed at Tiffany Loop, 027. Some of the tent sites at that loop need some attention (the barrier fence was down and the site overgrown ). Our site was just fine for what it was. Nice sized parking spot that we backed into. Gravel pad with (uncovered) picnic table and fire pit. There was a grassy spot where we placed our tent. Lots of sticky prickly grass around so watch your little kids :) the water is down behind the camp sites , down a steep hillside. We were not able to explore the water as we had to leave early due to sick kids but there were lots of boaters, pontoons, and house boats out there and we were planning to rent something! At Tiffany Loop, there are flushing toilets, a sink, and coin showers that are all clean! At Rosa Loop (a short drive ), there are coin showers, flushing toilets, and coin laundry services. It is very hot and sunny during the day so I’d bring a shade tent too! There are cabins at Tiffany loop as well.