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Waterton Canyon/Strontia Springs Reservoir

Partial closure: For four months, upper portion of canyon will be closed on weekdays for energy upgrade project

Beginning Monday, Sept. 29, through Jan. 31, 2015, the upper portion of the trail will be closed Monday through Friday at mile marker 3.1, for a project to improve the reliability of electricity at Denver Water’s canyon facilities. The entire trail will be open on Saturdays and Sundays. Read more …

Waterton_1
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)
Contact:
Denver Water Customer Care: 303-893-2444
Pike National Forest: 303-275-5610
Chatfield State Park: 303-791-7275
Roxborough State Park: 303-973-3959
Colorado Parks and Wildlife: 303-291-7227 
U.S. Forest Service: 719-545-8737


Background

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.

Directions

Follow Wadsworth Blvd (Highway 121) south of C470 past Chatfield Reservoir to the Kassler Center, where you will find public parking.

Seasonal Information

Open year round

Operating Hours

Half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset

Special Events

Permit necessary

Recreation Opportunities

Overview of available activities

Fishing
fishing

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.

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

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.
Scenery
nature viewing
Wildlife viewing: Bighorn sheep and mule deer are often seen in Waterton Canyon. Waterton also hosts more than 40 species of birds.

Note:
Dogs are not allowed in the canyon, for the protection of the bighorn sheep.
Picnic
picnicking
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.