Silver Jack Reservoir sits at 8,926 feet on the East Fork of the Cimarron River in Uncompahgre National Forest. The lake, with a surface area of 293 acres, is formed by a 173-foot-high earthen dam that was built to store water for irrigation. The lake level fluctuates depending on how much water is drained through the summer. The reservoir lies in Silver Jack Recreation Area, which is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The lake offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, especially in September when golden aspens carpet the slopes above the water. Facilities at Silver Jack include three campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, boating with hand-propelled watercrafts, and fishing. The lake, open year-round, is reached in winter by snowmobile, cross-country skis, or snowshoes.

Pro Tips

  • Silver Jack Reservoir is 41 miles from Montrose via U.S. 50. From U.S. 50, three miles east of Cimarron, drive south on dirt Big Cimarron Road/Forest Road 858 for 18 miles to the lake and campgrounds.
  • Silver Jack offers great fishing with a view for rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout from both the shoreline and from non-motorized boats.
  • The camping here is simply gorgeous. All three campgrounds— Silver Jack, Beaver Lake, and Big Cimarron—lie north of the reservoir. The 80 campsites have tables, fire rings, and toilets. Water is only available at 60-site Silver Jack. There are no RV hookups and vehicle size is limited. Sites are first-come first-served. Campgrounds are open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Dispersed primitive camping is also found in the area.
  • Spectacular mountain scenery surrounds Silver Jack Reservoir, including Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain, Needle and Cimarron ridges, and the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area to the south. The scenic dirt road from Silver Jack over 10,114-foot Owl Creek Pass to Ridgway is one of the state’s most beautiful backcountry drives. The area is great for photography in late September when aspen gold contrasts with mountain snow.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    —Stewart M. Green


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