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.