Tarryall Reservoir is a medium-sized lake in the northern part of South Park in Colorado. Tarryall Reservoir State Wildlife Area is a wildlife refuge for many different animals and migratory birds. Tarryall Reservoir State Wildlife Area is a great place to camp if you can get a campsite. During the peak summer season it can be difficult to get a campsite here due to the fact that there are no fees. Also all campsites are available on a first come first served basis with no reservations possible. The campsites around Tarryall Reservoir can accommodate mid-sized trailers and RV’s. There are lakeside campsites as well as some campsites that are up and away from the lake on the south west side. Tarryall Reservoir is a popular place for fishing, photography and hiking. There are a few other campgrounds in the area if you discover that Tarryall Reservoir’s campsites are full. Twin Eagles Campground can be found further south on Tarryall Road.
|Region:||South Central Colorado|
|Forestry:||State Wildlife Area|
|Camp Sites:||17 Camping Sites|
|Cost:||There is no fee to camp here.|
|Season:||Peak Season is Mid May through September|
|Activities:||Biking, Bird Watching, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Photography, Picnicking, Snow Shoeing|
|Amenities:||No Trash Service, Vault Toilets, Well Water|
There are three different campground loops here at Tarryall Reservoir Wildlife Area. If the two on the east side nearest Tarryall Road are full, try crossing the dam and checking the third campground on the south west side.
The campsites themselves are of average size and are all easily accessible with few trees. Each one has a rubber-coated grate-top table in the center. You might want to bring a tablecloth for the table, since the surfaces are uneven and difficult to wipe off. If you put a piece of cardboard or something similar on the table’s surface before you put the tablecloth on, your cups and food will rest on a more even surface.
Each campsite has a taller than average fire ring. These were probably installed because it can get pretty windy up here in the valley from time to time. These higher fire rings help prevent the accidental spread of your campfires, and the rings have large, sturdy grills that swing on and off the fire. A drawback to the taller ring is that it may limit the light and heat you receive from the campfire. I would definitely recommend that you bring firewood with you or pick some up in one of the small towns around the area. There is little wood here to burn and none can be collected from the surrounding area without a special permit.
There are no dedicated tent pads in the campgrounds at Tarryall Reservior Wildlife Area. Most campsites have plenty of flat areas to pitch a tent. Most of the campsites here also have pretty flat driveways so you should not have to worry too much about leveling a camper or a RV. If you are pitching a tent or two be aware of what you may be smashing when you do. Try to limit your impact on the campsites. If you plan on staying more than a few nights, it’s a good idea to move your tent every couple of days so you do not destroy the vegetation below.
The individual campsites at Tarryall Reservoir Wildlife Area are pretty close together. This can make the campgrounds feel cozy and even a little claustrophobic if you are looking to get away from people. However, most people who camp here will not spend the day in their campsite. Most will have boats for fishing here or at the very least, stake out their own piece of beach on Tarryall Reservoir. So even though the campsites are very close together, there aren’t a lot of people in them during the day. Just remember this at night when everyone is enjoying themselves or trying to get to sleep.
Activities in the Campground
Most campers come to Tarryall Reservoir State Wildlife Area for the fishing. Trout, brown and pike can be found in this lake. Tarryall Reservoir is big enough to accommodate everyone even if all of the campers here have boats on the lake. Observe any special regulations that are posted and make sure that you give your fellow anglers lots of room to enjoy themselves.
Off-roading with ATV’s and motorcycles is becoming more popular in the area. There are a few trails near Tarryall Reservoir that are popular for ATV’s and the like. There are many trails a few miles south of the campground where it flattens out in the valley. There are even a few campgrounds sprinkled about these areas so you do not have to go far to enjoy off-roading.
Bird watching and photography are also a great pastime to enjoy. The time of year will determine the animals and birds you are likely to see.
There are many hiking trails with historic importance in and around arryall Reservoir State Wildlife Area.
Final Camping Thoughts
Having no fees can definitely be appealing as well but this factor also makes it a more popular destination. Without the ability to get reservations, you never know if you can get a camping spot here or not until you arrive. So I would definitely have a backup plan in case there are no campsites available. If you really want to camp here, it may be best to schedule your camping trip to start in the middle of the week. Your chances of getting a spot here during peak season will be much better if you do.
The campsites are nice and most give easy access to everything you would want to enjoy. Many are near the lake and the fishing here is often good. If you find that fishing in Tarryall Reservoir is not too hot, you can always move to Tarryall Creek for some fly fishing.
With all the other things to do in the area this can be a great place go camping. If you find Tarryall Reservoir lacking there are many other things to do in the area. The only way to really go wrong at Tarryall Reservoir campground is if you show up to find the campground full!