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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1)       Why is a “parking pass” needed to recreate at Vallecito Reservoir?

A parking pass is not required to recreate at Vallecito Reservoir.  However, a recreation pass is required if you come to the Lake to boat, picnic, fish, hunt, hike, site see, cross country ski, snowmobile, scuba dive, ice fishing, enjoy a time of quiet solitude, or any other form of recreation.  The recreation pass is designed to hang from your rearview car mirror.  Consequently, the confusion as to the recreation pass being called a parking pass.


2)      Do I need a recreation pass for every member of my family or group members who have come to the Lake to recreate together?

No.  A recreation pass will cover each individual and family member that you have brought to the lake in your car.  The max number of passenger coverage is limited to the number of seat belts in your car (i.e., if your car is equipped with five seatbelts, the recreation permit will cover those five individuals, etc.).  The recreation pass requirement is designed to be family friendly.  With a day pass, a family of five individual can recreate at Vallecito Reservoir for a mere dollar per person per day.  A genuine bargain in today’s high tech, fast paced world.

Recreation pass requirements for a tour bus, van or fishing or other guiding services, or other commercial uses, is one pass for each person regardless of family relationships.  This requirement is identical with those state requirements if you have come to Colorado to hunt or fish, etc.  One pass per person participating in the recreation activity. 

3)       What is the recreation pass fees used for?  Where does the money go?

The revenues collected for Vallecito recreation fees supports all of the maintenance and enhancements of Bureau of Reclamation and Pine River Irrigation District’s (PRID) managed properties for recreation purposes such as:

 ~ Graveled parking areas and access points to recreation facilities.

~ Snow removal for winter access and parking areas associated with winter recreation        activities. (i.e., ice fishing, skiing, snow shoeing, tubing and sledding, etc.).

~ Operation, Maintenance and Replacement (OM&R) costs associated with picnic areas and recreation facilities, including vaulted toilets, and the courtesy boat dock.

~ Placement and maintenance of signage and physical restrictive barriers that prevent erosion and resource damage.

~ Provide moderate financial assistance to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife programs such as the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program, and help address inappropriate access and unlawful boat launching, and support the decontamination of suspect watercraft.

~ OM&R cost associated with Mountain Ute Lands (MUL) Park picnic pavilion, and trails, etc.

~ Organize and execute annual fall lake bed cleanup efforts from recreation activities throughout the year.

~ OM&R of handicap access facilities around the lake.

~ Provide a mechanism for recreators at Vallecito Reservoir to contribute to the annual OM&R cost of the Pine River Project for their enjoy and the enjoyment of future generations.  

~ Cover salaries of PRID Recreation Staff who provide administration and oversight functions.

~ Cover La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies for law enforcement services.

~ OM&R cost of the pet waste stations, etc.

~ Unfortunately, at times, there are significant costs associated with vandalism and other careless and thoughtless damage to Pine River Project facilities, lands, water ways, and other improvements by the public.  Recreation dollars are used to address these issues and fund restoration  activities.  

~ Any recreation fees that are left over (residual fees) at the end of each year, are rolled over in the PRID budget cycle to be used in future years to help offset major facility repairs and maintenance costs like those we are facing today on the dam and spillway.  In essence, all recreation fees collected from the public at the Pine River Project are used 100 percent to sustain recreation activities and the Pine River Project facilities that provide those recreation opportunities.

As you can see there are many benefits derived from the PRID recreation program and user permit fees. Your support is greatly appreciated!

4)        Are there other recreation passes available besides a day use pass?

Yes.  If you plan on recreating at Vallecito Reservoir more than 10 times during the year, we recommend that you purchase an annual permit.  At present the annual permit fee is $50.00

5)       Where can we purchase a recreation permit for Vallecito Reservoir?

You can purchase a recreation permit at the following locations:

Pine River Irrigation District Office

Vallecito Resort

Vallecito Marina

You can also purchase a permit on our website "".

6)       Is recreation a purpose for which the Pine River Project was authorized for construction?

No.  The project was authorized, by Congress, for construction for two specific purposes—flood control and irrigation.  However, recreation has been an integral part of the project following its construction from 1938-1942.