Born to be wild

Enjoy Colorado’s great outdoors and wildlife by exploring Denver Water’s nine recreational sites.

March 12, 2018 | By: Jose Salas

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A black bear, a deer and a moose walk into a Denver Water facility…

Okay, maybe they don’t, but as the third largest land owner in Colorado with 62,000 acres in 12 counties, there are countless animals, reptiles and birds at our dams, canyons and canals.

And we’ve opened up nine of them for you to enjoy the great outdoors!

As the weather warms up, we invite you to visit one of them. Whether you like hiking and biking or fishing and canoeing, the possibilities are (nearly) endless. Plus, there’s always a good chance you’ll run into a deer, blue heron, bears or the ever-popular bighorn sheep.

Waterton Canyon is the most popular Denver Water recreation destination, due to its proximity to the city, ease of access and secluded feeling. Bikers, hikers, and families show up year-round to enjoy the diverse ecosystem, creeks and wildlife. Those who are able to reach the top of the 6.2-milelong canyon are rewarded with the stunning views of Strontia Springs Reservoir or begin a new adventure at the start of the Colorado Trail.

Dillon Reservoir, in Summit County, offers a well-rounded variety of activities like hiking, biking, camping, fishing, boating and more. Other facilities open for recreation include Antero Reservoir, Williams Fork Reservoir, and Eleven Mile Reservoir, each offering a different recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Balancing recreation and wildlife with managing water facilities isn’t easy, which is why Denver Water partners with other experts, like the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

According to Brandon Ransom, recreation manager for Denver Water, the partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been vital to providing responsible recreational opportunities at each facility.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife has installed and maintained wildlife-friendly fencing on selected sites and promotes fishery health at our publicly accessible reservoirs by coordinating stocking programs and trying different approaches to improve environmental health,” he said.

One example is the award-winning project taking place at Antero Reservoir, the partnership has helped create a productive fishery despite some challenges.

Bighorn sheep
Bighorn sheep herd at Waterton Canyon.

“The water there is fairly shallow and has a native sucker population,” said Ransom. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers wanted to try something new and introduce tiger muskies. That was a different approach, but we trusted their expertise, ultimately creating a much healthier fishery.”

The partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife also extends to the Watchable Wildlife Program, that aims to educate Waterton Canyon visitors on how to be good stewards of the area and wildlife etiquette.

Additionally, our From Forest to Faucets partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conversation Service has created a collaborative approach to keep our forest healthy, which benefits the water supply, as well as our furry friends who call these wooded areas home.

As you head out to take advantage of Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine, four mild seasons and variety of landscapes by exploring Denver Water’s outdoor playgrounds, recreation managers remind you to maintain a safe environment for the wildlife, water and natural resources, other recreational users and the on-site workers who share this precious space. And of course, stop, take a breath and enjoy the moment.

National Wildlife Week has been celebrated since 1938 and is happening this week, March 12-16. Here are 10 ways you can participate and celebrate with the National Wildlife Federation.

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