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Dillon Reservoir recreation rules updated to allow wading in water

A person gets ready to launch a stand-up paddleboard at the Frisco Bay Marina on Aug. 23. A recent rule change officially allows people to wade in the reservoir so long as their feet stay on the ground.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

The Summit Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt new recreation rules for Dillon Reservoir at a Sept. 14 meeting, meaning folks are now permitted to wade in the water.

Brandon Ransom, recreation manager for Denver Water, said the changes were proposed mostly to clean up language and bring the rules up to date since they hadn’t been updated in years. He said enforcement of certain rules was a barrier at times.

Despite body contact with the water being entirely prohibited before the rule changes, folks are often found wading in the water by the beach at Frisco Bay Marina and elsewhere along the reservoir. Ransom said they had hoped to pass the new rules at the start of summer so this type of activity could be officially permitted.



“There’s a lot of different angles involved, but one of them was the enforcement of the rules and one of them was the discussion about just allowing people to get in the water on those hot days, especially when you have younger kids that want to just get in the water and play,” Ransom said.

Under the new rules, folks are allowed in the water at Dillon Reservoir so long as they remain standing on the ground, Ransom said. Swimming is still prohibited, which is defined in the recreation rules as propelling the body through water using limbs. Treading water is included in this definition, too.



“Basically, they’ll be able to enter on the shorelines,” Ransom said. “They can get in, and basically as long as they touch the bottom, the bed of the reservoir, they’re OK at that point.”

When modifying rules surrounding recreation on and around Dillon Reservoir, the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee makes recommendations that need to be approved by the county commissioners. Representatives from Denver Water, the U.S. Forest Service and the Summit County, Dillon and Frisco governments sit on the board.

Other modifications to the rules include new language regarding special events and personal vessel use. As new types of battery-powered vessels continue to be created, the regulations were amended to prohibit certain types of battery-operated vessels, limit speeds and align the types of electric transportation devices allowed with that of local jurisdictions.

Ransom said the changes to boating rules were made mostly so that Dillon Reservoir’s rules would be aligned with Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s rules for the sake of consistency. He said the speed limit on the reservoir is now 40 mph, which aligns with Parks and Wildlife, as well.

“That makes it easier for folks that are coming to the reservoir to enjoy a boating experience to have the same sets of rules and regs if we could, and we could in this case, and so that works out well,” Ransom said. “We just made some minor tweaks in language to make sure that we’re in alignment with Parks and Wildlife and that we’re limiting the types of vessel and craft that are on the reservoir from a number of different standpoints, safety probably being the foremost.”

Ransom said the aquatic recreation world is continuously evolving and that more and more land recreation devices are being converted to water use. He said when updating the rules, the committee tried to get ahead of this with some general language to ensure uses that aren’t seen as appropriate on the reservoir aren’t showing up.

Motorized personal watercraft, like jet skis, are still prohibited on the reservoir, except for specialty prop-craft that shall not exceed 5 mph and shall be operated at a wakeless speed.

Ransom said while the committee had hoped to have these rules implemented at the start of summer, it is still happy to have them updated after a fairly long process.

“I think it’ll be much more user friendly and much more easy to enforce,” Ransom said. “So, hopefully it just makes things less confusing on the water and folks will understand those rules and regs.”


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