Horsetooth Reservoir: The Life of Fort Collins

The Horsetooth Reservoir, a site to see, is both a source of water that sustains life and an area of beauty can be enjoyed.


Horsetooth Reservoir is located in Fort Collins, Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The 6.5 mile long (10.5 km) and .5 mile wide (0.8 km) body of water was constructed in 1949. The depth of the reservoir varies depending on the time of year. In the summer of 2015 the deepest point was measured at 225 feet (68.5 m).


History of Horsetooth Reservoir

The reservoir was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of the “Colorado-Big Thompson Project”, which was implemented to divert water from the West Slope, where 80% of Colorado’s annual precipitation falls, to the East Slope where 80% of the state’s population lives and where the vast plains ideal for agriculture extend eastward. Among the many dams and bodies of water constructed by the “Colorado-Big Thompson Project” Horsetooth Reservoir is one of the principle containers for water diverted eastward from the West Slope.


Usage and activities

The water collected in Horsetooth Reservoir is used for municipal and industrial purposes, irrigation, hydro-power generation, drinking, and recreation. According to the “Larimer County Parks and Open Lands” the Horsetooth area receives approximately 570,000 visitors each year. Most of these visitors partake in activities such as boating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, bouldering, climbing, picnicking, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, or running. All in all, the reservoir is a beautiful site that sustains life and any relationship with it depends on the hobbies and experiences that become part of identity. Nonetheless, the reservoir seems to have a universal quality.


Personal experience

It is impossible to estimate the beauty of a big place such as Horsetooth Reservoir without hiking to one of the highest points in the area. Arthur’s Rock, just west of the reservoir, is one of those points from which you have a bird’s-eye view to make such an estimation. However, even while standing on top of Arthur’s Rock it’s impossible to see the entirety of the reservoir, it’s too colossal. Standing there looking at the immensity around you it’s easy to feel small. The reservoir is like a mirror where magnificent landscape is reflected.

For a Russian, seeing the trees, sky, and fields in the reflection of the reservoir it’s easy to think of Lake Baikal in Russia. Like Lake Baikal the scenery is charming and there are a lot of plant species. The fields vary in color ranging from white, yellow, lilac, orange, and green and the land, in the middle of the day, appears to be shining. Horsetooth Reservoir is a transitional space where both wildlife and city life can be experienced. At Horsetooth Reservoir the fresh air makes it easy to relax.



Curtains slide apart and iridescence spreads

above robins reveling on boughs of naked trees

ruffled ‘round with shrubbery, swaying in the breeze.


On hillsides between high plains and mountains deer graze

in pine tree shades where glistening water ripples

to winds meddled with the redolence of chestnut horses.


Crows laud caws in trees with exposed roots reaching

for crickling rivers where round rocks wait for runoff

and ducks paddle illusively still upstream, dipping heads to feed.


By partly frozen ponds fringed with cottonwood trees

Geese commune in bristling brittle tundra

and patches of snow in the shadows of obscurity.


Oh, dancers of running water and wind

how we share these moments of eternity

Things to do

Trail around Horsetooth Reservoir 

Events at Horsetooth Reservoir


  • "Horsetooth Mountain Open Space." Parks and Open Lands. n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.
  • "Horsetooth Reservoir." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Jun. 2016.
  • Visit Fort Collins. n.d. Web. 17 Jun. 2016.


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