Waterton Canyon/Strontia Springs Reservoir

Waterton Canyon five-day closure

Waterton Canyon will be closed to public access from Monday, June 5, through Friday, June 9, for Denver Water’s annual dust mitigation project. Neither the parking lot at the canyon's entrance nor the canyon will be accessible during this time. Waterton Canyon will reopen at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 10.

Waterton Canyon
The canyon's trail is popular with cyclists.

Owned and Operated by Denver Water
Recreation Managers: Denver Water and U.S. Forest Service
Reservations: Not required
Elevation: 6,002 feet (1829 meters) – Strontia Springs spillway
Capacity: 7,863 acre feet  (1 acre foot = 325,851 gallons)
Denver Water Customer Care: 303-893-2444
Pike National Forest: 303-275-5610
Colorado Parks and Wildlife: 303-291-7227 
U.S. Forest Service: 719-545-8737


Strontia Springs Dam is 6.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Waterton Canyon on the South Platte River. Water is diverted from the reservoir into a 3.4 mile-long tunnel under the mountains to the Foothills Water Treatment Plant. Completed in 1983, this dam towers 243 feet above the South Platte streambed, forming a 1.7 mile-long lake with 98 surface acres.


Follow Wadsworth Blvd (Highway 121) south of C470 past Chatfield Reservoir. Turn left on Waterton Road. Take second entrance to the parking lot on the left.

Seasonal Information

Open year round

Operating Hours

Half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset

Special Events

Permit necessary

Recreation Opportunities

PDF document Map

Overview of available activities


Stream Fishing: The fishery is managed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Bait may be used in river from above (upstream of) Kassler to the Marston Diversion Dam. Artificial flies and lures only, above Marston Dam.

Lake Fishing: Strontia Springs has a bag limit of two trout 16 inches or longer. Note: The lake is difficult to access from the Bear Creek Trail above Waterton or at the South Platte.

Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier: A handicapped accessible fishing pier has opened a mile and a quarter up Waterton Canyon. The site was chosen for its mountain canyon stream location and its access to fish habitat structures in the river. Handicapped persons have priority use of the pier.

For the first 6.5 miles of trail, road bikes are suitable. For the trail beyond the dam, mountain bikes are a must.

Waterton Canyon offers a 6.5 mile hike to Strontia Springs Dam. The Colorado Trail continues above the lake approximately 10 miles to the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte and the South Platte River. The Colorado Trail continues to Durango. Waterton also connects to the Roxborough State Park trail system.

Note: Camping is allowed on the Colorado Trail, but not in Waterton Canyon. Hikers must proceed past Strontia Springs before camping. Dogs are not allowed on the canyon trails, for protection of the bighorn sheep.

Horseback Riding
horseback riding
Waterton Canyon connects to two riding systems; Chatfield State Parks trail system and the U.S. Forest Service Indian Creek trail system. Trailer parking is provided both at Waterton parking and at the Discovery Pavilion.
nature viewing
Wildlife viewing: Bighorn sheep and mule deer are often seen in Waterton Canyon. Waterton also hosts more than 40 species of birds.

Dogs are not allowed in the canyon, for the protection of the bighorn sheep.
Picnic tables are provided in several areas. Sheltered tables also available.

Note: Water contact sports such as swimming, wading, scuba diving or other water activities are prohibited.

Other rules and regulations.