Dixon Canyon Dam


Dixon Canyon Dam is one of three east-facing hogback dams that help form Horsetooth Reservoir above Fort Collins, Colorado. The fourth dam, Horsetooth, faces north. Hughes Stadium, where the Colorado State University Rams play football, sits just to the north of Dixon's left abutment.

Dixon Canyon was formed by the erosion of a narrow notch through the north-south ridge of tilted Dakota sandstone.  The formations involved are the same as those at Spring Canyon and Soldier Canyon dams, sister east-facing dams at Horsetooth. The geologic formations include the Sundance, Morrison and Dakota.  There are some differences in the thicknesses and intervals especially in the Dakota group.  The rock floor under the dam is mostly Morrison shales and thin limestones with some on the lower and middle Dakota sandstones under the down stream face.  The formations are all dipping downstream at an angle of 23 degrees.  Bedrock is covered by a strip of alluvium down to the bottom of the canyon approximately 200 feet wide.  It widens too more than 400 feet upstream from the centerline.  Nearly all of the slopes on each side are conferred with gravel, soil and boulders except where the harder rocks crop out.

Like the other three dams at Horsetooth, Dixon Canyon was modernized from 2000-2004. The downstream face of the dam was stripped away and rebuilt with additional sand and gravel filters and an increased stability berm, adding seismic stability.

RegionFacilities in Great Plains | Great Plains Home Page
ProjectColorado-Big Thompson
Dam Type
WatercourseOffstream Storage
Original Construction1946-1949
Modified Construction
National ID NumberCO01653
Hydrologic Unit Code

Structural Height155.0 ft
Hydraulic Height (Normal Operating Depth at Dam)215.0 ft
Top Parapet (Elevation)
Spillway Crest Elevation
Crest Elevation5443.0 ft
Crest Length1840.0 ft
Crest Width
Base Width
Volume of Dam Construction Materials
Streambed at Dam Axis
Top of Exclusive Flood Control Pool (Elevation)
Top of Joint Use Pool (Elevation)
Top of Active Conservation Pool (Elevation)5430.0 ft
Top of Inactive Conservation Pool (Elevation)5325.0 ft
Top of Dead Storage Pool (Elevation)5310.0 ft

Hydraulics & Hydrology
Total Water Storage at Elevation
Maximum Water Surface Elevation
Normal Water Surface Elevation5430.0 ft
Spillway Type
Auxiliary SpillwayNo
Spillway Capacity at Elevation
Auxiliary Spillway Capacity at Elevation
Uncontrolled Spillway Capacity at Elevation
Outlet Works Capacity at Elevation
Diversion Capacity at Elevation
Drainage Area17.0 sq mi
Hydrometeorological Report (HMR)HMR 55
Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) Report

Contact Information
TitleArea Office Manager
OrganizationEastern Colorado Area Office
Address11056 W. County Rd 18E
CityLoveland, CO 80537-9711
Phone (Fax)970 663-3212
Phone (Office)970 667-4410
OrganizationNorthern Colorado Water Conservancy District
AddressPO Box 679
CityLoveland, CO 80539
Phone (Office)970 667-2437

Last updated: Mar 29, 2013