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Cheesman Reservoir

A breathtaking engineering landmark

Named for Denver water pioneer Walter S. Cheesman, the dam was once the world’s tallest at 221 feet above the streambed when completed in 1905. The Denver Water Board purchased the reservoir and related facilities in 1918. Cheesman was the first reservoir of Denver's mountain storage facilities and has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Cheesman Dam

By the numbers


reservoir capacity in acre-feet


elevation at spillway crest in feet


year the dam was completed


dam height above streambed in feet

% full

Recreation notes


Fishing: Allowed only on the Goose Creek Arm.

Hiking: Cheesman is accessible by foot only. Hike the Upper and Lower (Gill) Cheesman Canyon Trail for scenic views of the reservoir. Parking for the trailhead is 200 yards north of the main parking area.

Special events: Requires Denver Water approval.

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Take Survey


  • From C-470, take U.S. 285 south about 21 miles to Pine Junction.
  • Turn left onto Jefferson County 126 and follow this road about 21.5 miles.
  • At the bottom of the last hill, the road makes a ninety-degree turn to the left. There is a large parking lot on your right.
  • The very next right turn is Forest Service Road 211.
  • Turn right and follow Forest Service Road 211 about two miles to the fork in the road.
  • Take the left fork and drive another mile to the parking lot at the main entrance gate to Cheesman Reservoir.

Rules and regulations

Cheesman: General rules and regulations

  • Pets must be kept on a leash and under control at all times. Pet owners must clean up after pets.
  • Prohibited: Water contact sports (swimming, wading, scuba diving, wind surfing, water-skiing); discharging firearms; off-road vehicles; snowmobiling on the reservoir.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems: UAS or drones are not allowed to launch or land on Denver Water property.

Cheesman: Boating and camping regulations

Prohibited: All boating and camping.

Cheesman: Fishing regulations

  • Allowed only on the Goose Creek Arm, a half-hour before sunrise and half-hour after sunset. Northern pike daily bag/possession limit is one fish 34 inches or longer.
  • Prohibited: Oct. 1 to April 30; on dam and around reservoir. Ice fishing.







Scenic Overview

Scenic Overview

Seasons and hours

Closed Oct. 1 to April 30

Operating hours: Half-hour before sunrise to half-hour after sunset


Denver Water (owner and operator): 303-893-2444 or Customer Care Contact Form.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife: 303-291-7227