Waterton Canyon

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
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


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

Map (PDF 3 MB)

  • Stream and lake fishing: The fishery is managed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Bait may be used in river from upstream of Kassler to the Marston Diversion Dam. Artificial flies and lures only above Marston Dam. 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: For the first 6.5 miles of trail, road bikes are suitable. For the trail beyond the dam, mountain bikes are a must.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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 to help protect bighorn sheep.
  • 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.