Rueter-Hess Reservoir, just minutes from Downtown Castle Rock, sits on Hess Road, one mile east of Interstate 25 at the Castle Pines Parkway exit. The property is owned and managed by the Parker Water and Sanitation District. While the top priority is maintaining water quality, the district has established the Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority to plan future recreational opportunities. The Authority is composed of appointed representatives from the Town of Castle Rock, Town of Parker, City of Lone Tree, City of Castle Pines, Douglas County and the Parker Water and Sanitation District.
Through extensive public outreach, the Authority established a conceptual master plan (PDF) in 2016 that 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. 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.
Incline Challenge and trails
The Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority opened the new Incline Challenge and trails in 2020.
The 132-step Incline and surrounding trails, which are the first phase of the master plan, will be open from sunup to sundown seven days a week. The incline offers 232 feet of elevation and a spectacular view of Longs Peak to the north and Pikes Peak to the south.
Located immediately west of the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility, a parking lot has been designated for visitors at the bottom of the Incline. 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. The Rosie Rueter Trail loop is just over a mile long and leads to and from the parking lot.
Pavilions, an observation deck and more are scheduled to open soon.
Reuter Hess recreational access is now being managed by Douglas County. The reservoir will be open for non-motorized water activities including paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from Memorial Day weekend into late October.
The cost of a day pass is $10 per vehicle. Reserve your day now. Reservations must be made online. Please save your confirmation email to show at the gate. (A screenshot or printed copy is needed, as cell service is spotty at the reservoir.)
To ensure the best day possible, there are some things you should know:
- Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and inflatable standup paddle boards are the only watercraft allowed. All watercraft will be inspected onsite for invasive species before entering the water. Rentals are available through an onsite vendor and include a life jacket.
- Life jackets are required for all and must be worn at all times.
- Plans are in the works to modernize the shoreline. As that plan comes to fruition, please expect the shoreline to be muddy in places this year.
- Parking is a 5- to 10-minute walk from the shoreline. Following an inspection of watercraft, you will be able to drop off gear near the shoreline and return to the parking lots to park your car. Please be prepared to inflate your watercraft, at least partially, before getting to the water.
- Dogs are allowed in some areas, but not the water.
- No glass bottles or alcohol are allowed.
Catch and release fishing at Rueter-Hess Reservoir will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, starting Friday, Aug. 4, and running through October.
To maintain the vitality of the fish, a limited number of fishing opportunities will be available each day the reservoir is open. Reservations are required and open online at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2.