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Rueter-Hess Recreation

FAQs (Rueter-Hess)

Why isn’t the reservoir open to the public all the time?

For safety and security reasons, on-site recreation staff/rangers must be present anytime there are events happening at the reservoir.

Additionally, because Rueter-Hess Reservoir’s primary purpose is to serve as a drinking water storage reservoir for Parker Water & Sanitation District’s customers, our primary concern must always be to protect the water quality. This means staff must be present to check all watercraft for invasive species before entering the water.

When will Rueter-Hess be open to the public?

The reservoir is open to the public by reservation, during limited hours of operation.

In 2021, Paddle Days will be held Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day by registration only.

Registration opens each month one week prior to the 1st of the month. The entrance fee is $15 per person. Reservations are required for each person entering the reservoir, regardless of activity or sharing of watercraft. There are no day-of or at-gate reservations or admittance.

Approved, non-motorized watercraft are allowed during these days. You may bring your own watercraft and rentals are also available. Each watercraft will be inspected onsite.

Additional programs and events that fit the vision of the reservoir and the current capabilities to provide a safe experience are provided throughout the summer months.

Additionally, the Rosie Rueter Trail and Incline Challenge are open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Incline features 132 steps and the Rosie Rueter Trail loop that leads to and from the parking lot is just over a mile long.  Visitors should turn west off of Heirloom Parkway when they reach the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility and continue west to the designated Incline parking area.

Where is Rueter-Hess located?

It is located about three miles southwest of downtown Parker on Newlin Gulch, which is a tributary drainage of Cherry Creek. From I-25, take the Castle Pines exit and drive east on Hess Road. 

How will Rueter-Hess water be used?

The primary purpose of Rueter-Hess Reservoir is drinking water storage for the Parker Water and Sanitation District and its storage partners. However, limited recreational programs and special events are currently available through recreation partners and contracted vendors.

Where does the water come from?

Water is pumped to Rueter-Hess Reservoir from Parker Water & Sanitation District’s diversion structure, located on Cherry Creek. 

Where does the water go?

The water from the Reservoir feeds into the Parker Water & Sanitation District Water Purification Facility, located just north of the reservoir, where it is treated and distributed to District customers.

What are the water temperatures at Rueter-Hess?

Summer water temperatures range from 65 – 72°F. 

Will Rueter-Hess eventually allow dogs?

On-leash dog runs are currently included in the Master Plan. In an effort to protect water quality, dog runs will not be located near the water. 

When will the planned trail system be complete?

This will be an incremental effort that will take multiple years. 

Does Rueter-Hess allow boats?

Stand-up paddle boards, canoes, kayaks and small non-motorized watercraft are currently permitted in the Master Plan. No motorized boats are not allowed other than for pre-approved safety purposes. Inspections will be required for all approved watercraft. 

Can I bring my own paddleboard, kayak, or canoe?

Not at this time, unless it is connected to a special event where inspections will be available. The future plan is to allow private equipment on the reservoir, provided equipment is inspected and decontaminated of all invasive species. 

Can I use a remote control device (boat, drone, etc.)

No, remote control devices are not allowed on the reservoir.

Is it part of the Colorado State Park system?

No. Rueter-Hess Reservoir is owned by Parker Water & Sanitation District and has taken a regional approach to bring recreation to the site.

How is Rueter-Hess recreation funded and run?

Funding and oversight of reservoir recreation is through the Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority, which includes Douglas County, the Towns of Parker, and Castle Rock, and the Cities of Lone Tree and Castle Pines, as well as grants, public-private partnerships, and revenue from programmed events.

When will fishing be allowed at the reservoir?

Once the reservoir’s fish stocking program reaches a point where a sufficient level of predatory fish are present, fishing will be allowed on the reservoir.  Stocking of recreational species began in the fall of 2018, including Largemouth Bass, Grass Carp, and Walleye.

When and how fishing is allowed will be determined based on the need to maintain sustainability, biodiversity, and water quality within the reservoir.


Can you swim in the reservoir?

No, swimming is not permitted in order to maintain the water quality of the reservoir.

Are there running or bike trails?

Yes.  The master plan includes approximately 17 miles of trails for users to explore including a connected loop around the reservoir.

Currently, the 1.3-mile long Rosie Rueter Trail and Incline Challenge on the north side of Hess Road is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and connects to the newly-finished East/West Regional Trail directly north of the property, allowing connections to Clear Creek Trail, the Town of Parker, I-25 and beyond.

Within the reservoir, a 1.8-mile (3.6 miles out and back) portion of the trail is now complete and ready for hiking and mountain biking during hours when the reservoir is open to the public.

Is horseback riding allowed on the trails?

No, equestrians are not permitted around the reservoir in order to maintain the water quality of the reservoir.

When was construction of the reservoir completed?

The construction of Rueter-Hess Reservoir was completed in 2012 to hold 75,000-acre feet of stored water. The dam rises 185 feet above the bedrock and the reservoir will encompass 1,170 acres. As of spring 2018, the reservoir is approximately 1/3 full and 100+ feet deep