Rueter-Hess Reservoir (RHR) is nestled in the sandstone-rimmed bluffs and Gambel Oak valleys of northeastern Douglas County. Abundant in history and rugged landscape, the reservoir resides on the property owned by Parker Water and Sanitation District (PWSD). It is an invaluable water resource to residents in Douglas County and the people of Colorado’s greater Front Range. It is located on Hess Road, one mile east of I-25 at the Castle Pines Parkway exit 188, and 3 miles west of Parker Road.
Numerous archaeological artifacts were discovered during the reservoirs’ construction that provide evidence of a long history of human inhabitation of the land dating back 9,000 years. Native and immigrant settlers of the region relied on the land for their livelihood from hunting to mining gold to homesteading and ranching.
The RHR Recreation Master Plan (dated 2016) is intended to be a flexible document. Development is continuing around the reservoir property, and program elements may adjust based on available funding and community trends and needs.
An environmental impact statement and 404 permits were established for the property as part of the construction of the reservoir. The permit allows permanent recreation facilities on the east side of the reservoir as well as north of Hess Road. The west side of the reservoir is restricted to soft surface trails and activities that don’t impact the wildlife and natural character of the site.
For the property surrounding the reservoir, it is critical that considerations for water quality be a top priority. Protecting the reservoir’s sensitive infrastructure from threats like vandalism, Zebra Mussel infestation, and water contamination by human and animal waste are major concerns when developing a public recreational amenity central to a drinking water source.
The reservoir’s location makes it easy to access as a regional amenity. The Town of Parker, the Town of Castle Rock, the City of Lone Tree, the City of Castle Pines, Douglas County and Parker Water and Sanitation District make up the six regional partners contributing to the water storage and the potential recreation components.
Large areas of the site where cultural and archaeological artifacts were discovered during construction are considered culturally sensitive. Protecting these sensitive areas can be done through trail design and education on the significance of the site’s heritage.
Outstanding local participation in the reservoir’s recreation master planning process has resulted in a preferred concept for the property’s outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The public expressed overwhelming interest in soft surface trails, mountain biking, and non-motorized boating as their top desires for uses at the reservoir. The plan incorporates these elements as well as other activities that meet the tranquil and serene goals of the community. The Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority and PWSD’s Boards agree that introducing water sports opportunities in a conservative and managed manner, with the potential to grow in the future, will allow visitors to take advantage of the water resource while still meeting the goals for water quality.