A picture of Horsetooth Reservoir from the air, looking south to north.
(Above) Horsetooth's water level elevation has been well over 5400 feet, or at least 80% full, since March 2014.

Looking east to west across Carter Lake Dam #1 to a full reservoir and blue skies with snow tipped mountains in the background.
(Above) Carter Lake filled at least three separate times during the 2013-2014 water year due to an unusually abundant water supply from rain and snow.

Horsetooth and Carter Lake Reservoirs

Horsetooth and Carter Lake reservoirs are both in winter operations, although that is hard to tell just by looking at them.

Both reservoirs have water elevations similar to what they normally see in spring, when they are filling. To be above a water level elevation of 5400 feet at Horsetooth, or 5739 feet at Carter, in the fall is unusual, to say the least.

The 2013-2014 water year was a very busy one. Huge monsoon rains in September 2013 bumped the region out of drought status to above average for precipitation. The fall monsoons were followed by an above-average snowpack year, which yielded a decent snow melt runoff in spring 2014. These combined events, plus a more wet and cool summer season contributed to higher reservoir levels across the Front Range of Colorado.

As a result, the three major storage facilities of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (Granby, Horsetooth and Carter) are ending the water year at historically high levels.

CAST for Kids at Horsetooth

One of the best parts of the year is the CAST for Kids event at Horsetooth Reservoir. This year's event was Saturday, June 7. About 25 children and their families joined almost 90 volunteers for another great event day.

2014 marked our 18th annual event and for the first time in our event history, it rained! Rain only makes the fish rise and it was hardly noticed as kids and their sponsoring fishing instructors took to the water. New records were set and all had a fabulous time catching fish, making friends, and enjoying a day outside.

Parents can find the 2014 CAST portraits on Facebook.

Please feel free to download the picture of your child and print at home. The pictures are provided as 5x7 portraits so they fit easily into the CAST plaque.

CAST events are special days because approximately 100 volunteers come together to take differently-abled and disadvantaged kids out on the water for a fantastic day of fishing and fun. Local-area fishing clubs, most notably the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, donate their boats, time, and personal expertise to give everyone a decent chance at catching a fish. Participating families, volunteers, and BASS fishermen and women are joined by participating businesses who donate staff and supplies to make the day a great success.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in participating in our annual CAST for Kids event, please contact Signe Snortland to register. Registration is open for children in kindergarten through high school.

To learn more about CAST, visit the web site. To learn more about our event, search "events" on the CAST page, or visit us on Facebook at "CAST at Horsetooth."

Project Operations

Horsetooth and Carter Lake reservoirs are both part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

Before reaching Horsetooth and Carter, C-BT water comes under the Continental Divide via the Adams Tunnel. Once in Estes Park, it is used to generate hydro-electric power at the Marys and Estes power plants. From Estes, water can either be released down the Big Thompson Canyon, or continue through the C-BT's southern power arm, generating power at three more plants: Flatiron, Pole Hill and Big Thompson.

As it moves through the power system, C-BT also moves through four other reservoirs. Water levels are about average for this time of year at Lake Estes, Marys Lake, Pinewood, and Flatiron reservoirs.

For more information on Carter, Horsetooth and the CAST for Kids event at Horsetooth, please contact Signe Snortland.

Last Updated: 6/24/20