Horsetooth Reservoir is a reservoir in southern Larimer County, Colorado, west of the city of Fort Collins. It’s about 6 miles long and runs north-south.
Its shape and orientation are the results of its body being surrounded by certain ridges caused by sandstone. It also has gaps that consolidate with sediment dams.
On the west side of the pond, you can find two prominent ridges topped by erosion-resistant sandstones belonging to the Lyons and Ingleside formations. Gaps in these ridges have created a few bays, coves, and inlets that are home to a marina among other things.
The reservoir was constructed in 1949 as part of the federal Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Water distribution is managed by Reclamation and operated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.
Horsetooth & Carter Lake are two of Rocky Mountain’s most notable reservoirs. These man-made lakes provide the massive amounts of water needed to meet the Denver Metro area’s water needs.
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The reservoir helps Fort Collins, Greeley, and other communities in the region with water supply by supplying drinking water as well as irrigation of farmland.
The reservoir is named after Horsetooth Mountain which is a landmark in the foothills at the southwest corner of the area.
The construction of the reservoir displaced a number of people from Stout and flooded some parts of the old town. Before construction, many residents moved to a location around Horsetooth’s South Bay but there are still remains of some buildings.
The reservoir has a capacity of 156,735 acre-feet (193,330,000 m3), a total shoreline of 25 miles (40 km). The reservoir is located at lat 40.55437° x long 105.15591°.
Recently the reservoir has been at relatively low water levels, but in June 2014 its capacity reached 98.7%, its highest in four years.
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The reservoir is a popular recreation destination for the region, attracting about 570,000 visitors every year. The vast majority of respondents said that it enabled them to explore new landscapes and experience different types of wildlife and ecosystems.
Larimer County has been managing recreation at Horsetooth since they opened, providing a public land boundary of 1,900 acres and three other C-BT reservoirs.