Magnesium chloride isn’t just used to melt ice on roadways during colder months. Denver Water also uses it to retain moisture in the dirt road that winds through Waterton Canyon.
Keeping the road moist reduces the chance of a summer dust problem in the canyon.
Crews are scheduled to apply magnesium chloride to the six and a-half mile road during a five-day closure, starting next Monday, June 5.
There will be no public access to the popular hiking, biking and horseback riding trail until the morning of Saturday, June 10.
The parking lot at the canyon's entrance will also be closed.
“We’re excited to get it done, but we know it’s kind of an inconvenience for users,” said Brandon Ransom, manager of recreation for Denver Water. “But in the long run, it makes for a much better experience here in the canyon.”
PHOTOS: The features of Waterton Canyon
Before applying mag-chloride, crews will re-grade the road to smooth out the bumps, grooves and potholes.
Loosening the dirt also helps the road soak up the mag-chloride.
“Not only do we get that nice smooth surface, we get the dust taken care of also,” Ransom said.
Denver Water uses the road through Waterton Canyon to access several of its distribution facilities along the South Platte River, as well as the Strontia Springs Reservoir. Because it is a vital road for Denver Water operations it’s kept well maintained, which makes it a family-friendly hiking and biking experience.
Denver Water estimates Waterton Canyon has more than 100,000 visitors a year.
In addition to scenic views of the river and canyon walls, visitors enjoy the wildlife, which is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“We do have a bighorn sheep herd in the canyon,” Ransom said. “There is occasional spotting of a black bear here and again. And then as far as birds; it’s really, really a great place to bird watch. You’ll see a lot of hawks. Occasionally, you may see a bald eagle fly through and fish the river.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks the river with trout, so anglers are also drawn to the canyon.
Denver Water typically plans dust mitigation projects that close the canyon around this time each year.
Over the past several years, the canyon has also been closed because of high water during spring runoff and the occasional wildlife issue, including when too many people were getting dangerously close to bears in order to snap selfies that were eventually posted on social media.