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Jumbo Reservoir is a 1,200-acre lake located in the northeast corner of Colorado. In the summer of 2006, severe drought drained the reservoir and all fish that could not be saved were lost. In the winter of 2006, the reservoir was refilled and the Colorado Division of Wildlife restocked the lake with sizeable rainbow trout and other game fish. Today the reservoir is a popular outdoor recreation spot known for its camping, boating and year-round fishing.
There are several campgrounds on Jumbo Reservoir, also known as Julesburg Reservoir, and public boat launches enable visitors to get out on the lake. The reservoir is filled by a canal in the winter and drawn down for irrigation during the summer. Water levels vary, so boaters must be aware of water hazards during the summer months. Fish in the lake include trout, crappie, carp, smallmouth bass, saugeye, walleye, channel catfish and bluegill. Note: Although most fish taken from Colorado lakes and streams are safe to eat, refer to the Colorado Fish Advisory (link below) before eating fish caught from Jumbo Reservoir or any Colorado waterway.
The spacious campgrounds around Jumbo Reservoir offer shaded picnic areas, restroom facilities and cool, clean drinking water. There are no designated swimming areas, but taking a refreshing dip in the crystal clear lake is permitted. Water skiing is another favorite way to have fun on the water. During certain times of the year, the reservoir allows kids of all ages to enjoy the thrill of flying over the water.
Along with fishing and boating, hunting is a popular pastime at the Jumbo Reservoir State Wildlife Area and adjacent Red Lion State Wildlife Area. Small game, pheasant and a number of waterfowl can be found in the wildlife areas. These heavily wooded and gently rolling open sections are also a great place for wildlife viewing and photography. Bird watchers will be delighted by the number of snow and Ross's geese that use the lake in the spring and throughout the winter when there is open water.
Hunters preferring larger game can head to the Sedgwick Bar State Wildlife Area, located just east of Jumbo Reservoir. This 885-acre State Wild Life Area offers deer, antelope, small game, pheasant, bobwhite quail, dove, turkey, and waterfowl hunting. There is no camping allowed at Sedgwick Bar SWA, but you will find an RV park, lodging, and vacation rentals and real estate in the nearby towns of Sedgwick, Sidney, Chappel, and Julesburg.
For an interesting daytrip, the Pawnee National Grasslands are located 70 miles west of Jumbo Reservoir. The grasslands consist of 193,000 acres of public land for biking, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and fishing. Camping is allowed in designated areas. The main feature of the grasslands are the Pawnee Buttes, rising 350 feet above the surrounding plains. A walking trail will lead you to the base of the buttes where bird watching is at its best. Wildlife in the grasslands is abundant. Just east of the grasslands is the town of Sterling, where you can visit the Overland Trail Museum to learn more about life on the range.
The South Platte River Trail begins in Julesburg, east of Jumbo Reservoir, and offers a 19-mile loop that follows the main route westward that was once used by tens of thousands of pioneers lured by the promise of wealth, land, and freedom. Markers along the way commemorate the original Julesburg town site, the location of Colorado's only Pony Express home station, and Fort Sedgwick (where the film "Dances With Wolves" was filmed).
If peace and solitude are what you seek, a visit to Jumbo Reservoir and the northeast region of Colorado is exactly what you are looking for. Beautiful sunsets, scenic landscapes and an area rich in history are enhanced by all the fishing, camping, and hunting you can handle to make this vacation destination a must for the outdoor lover.
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