It was a century ago today that one of Denver’s most visionary leaders started an initiative to ensure that all of our city’s residents and visitors would have guaranteed access to the beauty and splendor of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. On this date in 1913, the land for Genesee Mountain Park was acquired, making it the inaugural park of the historic Denver Mountain Park system. Mayor Robert W. Speer began the initiative to preserve mountain land and make it city property during his second of three terms in 1912.
Today, the Denver Mountain Park system consists of more than 14,000 acres that span across four counties in the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver. The Denver Mountain Parks make up a cohesive system of significant lands connected by watersheds, forests, sensitive ecosystems, trails, and scenic drives. Each park has its own distinct character, but the system as a whole shares a common audience, multiple uses, geography and historic integrity. The Denver Mountain Parks system is on the National Register of Historic Places as a multiple properties listing.
“Our mountain parks help make us one of the most unique and expansive park systems in the world,” said Lauri Dannemiller, Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation. “This really is a treasure for the people of Denver and for all those that visit the mountain parks each year. This land is an amazing asset for our great city and we are proud to continue Mayor Speers’ legacy as we look to the next century and beyond.
To celebrate the past century and look ahead to the next, the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation, in collaboration with famed photographer John Fielder, has released “Denver Mountain Parks, 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream”, a book honoring the system’s rich history. Denver Parks and Recreation will continue to invest in the Mountain Park System as it moves forward with a master plan developed in 2008. Those improvements include new structures for group rentals and picnics in certain parks, improved parking areas and infrastructure and new or upgraded hiking trails for the public. The world-famous Bison Herd Overlook, which is accessible just off of Interstate I-70 and is also a part of the Denver Mountain Park system, will soon get a new trailhead and improved way-finding signage.
Overall, the Denver Mountain Parks system includes 22 parks, 24 conservation areas and two bison herds. Many of Colorado's most significant landscapes are within the Denver Mountain Parks system. These iconic landscapes typically draw more than two million visitors to Denver and the region each year, who often travel thousands of miles to enjoy our Mountain Parks attractions. These include: Red Rocks Park; Lookout Mountain; the Buffalo Bill Museum; and Echo Lake and Summit Lake Parks on Mt. Evans.
To learn more about Denver Mountain Parks, you can visit a new exhibit on the 5th floor of the Denver Central Library or visit our website at www.denvergov.org/parks. To order a copy of Denver Mountain Parks, 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream, visit the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation at www.mountainparksfoundation.org.
Denver Parks + Recreation (DPR) facilities are unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West. The DPR system spans over a 138-year history from the first park created in 1868 to nearly 15,000 acres of urban parks and mountain parkland today. It embraces nearly 3,000 acres of “traditional” parks and parkways, 2,500 urban natural acres and 154.9 square miles of urban forest.