The Dolores River Anglers has released a guide on public fishing access on the Dolores River and West Fork River.
Anglers must be aware of boundaries for private public land to avoid trespassing.
“Please don’t ruin things for those that do follow the law,” Dolores River Anglers said in a news release. “We hope that the information presented here will help you find legal access to good fishing.”
The main stem of the Dolores River runs along or within eyesight of Colorado Highway 145 to the summit of Lizard Head Pass. The trick is knowing where there is public access to the river because most of the Dolores River above the town of Dolores to the town of Rico runs across private land.
The guide presents access points in Dolores and along Colorado 145.
Town of Dolores Entering Dolores from the west, turn right (south) at Fourth Street, and drive two blocks to the bridge over the Dolores River. There is public access on both sides of the river from the Fourth Street bridge downstream to McPhee Reservoir.Public fishing access is available from the downstream property line of the U.S. Post Office to the upstream property line of the Dolores Public Library.Public fishing access in Dolores is from the downstream property line of Riverside Park upstream to the downstream property line of the Outpost Motel.Colorado 145The 64-acre Dolores River State Wildlife Area parking lot entrance is about one-quarter mile north of milepost 16. Access is from the irrigation diversion structure, downstream for about one-quarter mile to the downstream property line of the wildlife area. It is illegal to fish in the ponds of the fish hatchery.At milepost 17, look for a bridge across the Dolores River. Fishing access here is on the Colorado 145 side of the river upstream past the huge boulder to about 100 yards downstream of milepost 18. Look for the sign “State Stocked Waters.” There is no public access upstream of those signs.Continue driving up Colorado 145 to about a half-mile past milepost 20. Look for the State Wildlife Area sign. This is the Twin Spruce Ponds public fishing area leased by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.At milepost 34, look for the Bear Creek Trailhead sign. Adjacent to the parking lot is a metal footbridge. Fishing access is about 300 yards above and 200 yards below the foot bridge.At milepost 35, is the entrance to Priest Gulch RV Park. Look for the “State Stocked Waters” sign along Colorado 145. Be sure to check with the manager of the Priest Gulch RV Park for permission to fish.At milepost 36 is the entrance to the Circle K Guest Ranch. Look for the “State Stocked Waters” sign along highway 145. Be sure to check with the manager of the Circle K for permission to fish.At milepost 37 is the turnoff for Forest Road 436, the Hillside Drive Road. Access is from the Hillside Drive Road bridge over the Dolores River downstream to the Circle K Guest Ranch upstream property line.At milepost 42 is a bridge over the Dolores River just upstream from the Wildcat Trailhead. Access begins at the bridge on the Highway 145 side of the river for about 300 yards then is on both sides of the river upstream to 200 yards downstream from milepost 44.The town of Rico has some very tricky fishing access. It is safer not to fish in Rico.At milepost 49, the “S” curve of Colorado 145 winds around a steep cliff. Fishing access is generally from the “S” curve all the way to the summit of Lizard Head Pass.West Fork RiverThe West Fork of the Dolores River is accessed along Montezuma County Road 38, also known as Forest Service Road 535 which junctions with Colorado 145 just beyond milepost 23.
Drive about 3.2 miles to the Lower Stoner Trailhead. Only about 200 yards of river access is here on both sides of the stream upstream of the bridge. Be careful of the upstream and downstream unmarked boundaries.About 19.8 miles farther is the U.S. Forest Service Mavreeso Campground. Check with the campground host for details on public fishing access and cost for daily access.About 1.4 miles further is the Forest Service’s West Dolores Campground. Check with the campground host for details on public fishing access and cost for daily access.About 3.9 miles beyond the West Dolores Campground is Forest Service Road 686, the Stoner Mesa Road. Take a right onto FS Road 686, drive about 150 yards to a bridge. Access here is on both sides of the stream about 100 yards above the bridge and about 300 yards below the bridge.About 5.1 miles farther up the West Fork Road is Forest Road 726. Turn left on to Forest Road 726. Stay on the road. It winds through private land and crosses Fish Creek twice. Do not stop and fish until about 200 yards upstream of the second bridge where you are on USFS land for about 200 yards and then you enter the Fish Creek State Wildlife Area. Drive about seven-tenths of a mile to the parking lot.About 5.6 miles farther FS Road 535 is the Johnny Bull Trailhead. There is about 300 yards of access on both sides of the stream.About 1.5 miles farther is the Geyser Spring Trailhead access point. There is about 300 yards of access on both sides of the stream.No clear public access exists for the next 2.3 miles until you get to the upstream property line of the Dunton Resort. Public access continues upstream to a piece of private land just beyond the Kilpacker trailhead, which includes “Meadows.” Do not trespass. There are no fish in the intermittent stream on the meadows.