Print Back to top
Featured Photo

Winter wonderland in Waterton Canyon

A scenic canyon, and an important piece of Denver’s water supply.
The sun sets behind the walls of Waterton Canyon, a working Denver Water facility southwest of Denver. Photo credit: Denver Water.

With more than 100,000 visitors a year, it’s no secret that Waterton Canyon is one of the most popular outdoor recreation amenities for Coloradans and tourists — in summer and winter. 

Here are a few scenes in Waterton Canyon that Denver Water Recreation Ranger Danielle Compton caught after a snowstorm in 2022.

The beautiful canyon, the start of the Colorado Trail, also is a key Denver Water operational facility. Denver Water typically closes the canyon every year for two weeks in early summer to conduct dust mitigation work on the canyon road. 

Be sure to check Denver Water’s recreation webpage for any updates on the canyon before you go. 

Know before you go: Check for updates on Denver Water’s Waterton Canyon/Strontia Springs recreation webpage

Snow adds another dimension to Waterton Canyon. Photo credit: Denver Water.

The canyon is home to many different types of wildlife, including the popular Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd. There are also mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, elk, lizards and snakes, including the prairie rattlesnake. 

And Waterton Canyon is a working Denver Water facility and living quarters for some of the utility’s employees and their families. Employees use the single road up the canyon 24/7/365 to maintain the many elements of the facility.

If you go, here are some fun facts to share: 

  • Strontia Springs Dam is 6.2 miles upstream of the mouth of Waterton Canyon on the South Platte River. 
  • Water is diverted from the Strontia Springs Reservoir to the Foothills Water Treatment Plant and Marston Water Treatment Plant. 
  • Completed in 1983, the dam rises 243 feet above the South Platte streambed.
  • The dam’s spillway sits at 6,002 feet above sea level. 
  • A generator at the dam can produce up to 1 megawatt of hydropower. 
  • Waterton Canyon is the start of the Colorado Trail, which stretches 485 miles between Denver and Durango and passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Colorado Rockies.
The beauty of Waterton Canyon in winter. Photo credit: Denver Water.