Genesee is reported to be a Native American term for "shining valley." Cut by I-70, the Park is in two parts. To the south of I-70, Genesee Mountain offers a 360-degree view from its 8,284-foot summit, with Mount Vernon Canyon below. Bald Mountain, at 7,988 feet, is a prominent point on the north side of the park. On the north, the Park reaches all the way to Clear Creek Canyon, with its lowest elevation of 6,280 feet at the bottom.
Denver's largest mountain park, Genesee offers diverse visitor experiences, from group gatherings and individual picnicking to bison-watching along I-70 at Exit 254 and backcountry hiking on the historic Beaver Brook Trail.
Genesee Park is 20 miles west of Denver on I-70, off Exit 254 (Genesee Park Exit) or Exit 253 (Chief Hosa).
Facilities in the park include:
Genesee Park was an early focal point in Mountain Park acquisition. Before the Mountain Parks Commission (MPC) was fully organized, private companies planned to log areas of old-growth Ponderosa Pine. Advocates of the new park system rushed to acquire these lands and held them until the MPC was ready to purchase them. Genesee was the first park in the system, and remains the largest, with new acreage added in 1937 and 2007.
In 1914, Denver acquired bison and elk from the herds at Yellowstone Park, and Genesee Park took on a new role in helping maintain these two species, then nearing extinction. Watching the bison herd along I-70 is still a major interest of park visitors. In 1939, a new bison herd was established at Daniels Park; both herds are managed at about 24 adult animals.
The Beaver Brook Trail, completed by Colorado Mountain Club volunteers in 1918, connects this large park to another early park, Lookout Mountain Park. It offers a rugged backcountry experience along its 8.65-mile length, and is accessible, as historically, only for hikers. Denver hikers used to take the trolley to Golden, then travel by train to the Beaver Brook station in Clear Creek Canyon to access the Beaver Brook Trail and Genesee Park.
Chief Hosa Lodge, also built in 1918, provided camping and refreshment for these hikers, who often stayed overnight before returning to Denver again via train and trolley. The Lodge was designed by J.J.B. Benedict and built of native stone and logs from the site, as was a nearby shelter to the north.
During the New Deal, two Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps operated near Genesee beginning in 1935. The large stone shelter near Genesee Mountain, completed in 1939 by the CCC workers, still provides space for group picnicking and family or organization events. With a capacity of 300, it is the largest shelter in the Mountain Parks; reservations for use are available by fee.
The Daughters of the American Revolution celebrate an annual, commemorative flag raising on Flag Day at the summit of Genesee Mountain. They have performed this service each June 14th since 1911.
The Patrick House (an 1860 toll station in the park for collecting tolls from teams and stagecoaches at the onset of the gold rush) is the oldest building in the park, and serves today as a private residence for the caretaker of the bison herd.