Denver Parks and Recreation Proposes Acquisition of 450-Acre Mountain

Published on February 11, 2021

Axton Ranch landscape of meadow, evergreens and mountains

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) is proposing the acquisition of the Axton Ranch property to be donated to the City and County of Denver for its Mountain Park System. Subject to Denver City Council approval, this acquisition continues the city’s legacy as a leader in regional open space protection and creates new opportunities to realize Denver Parks and Recreation’s 20-year visioning document, Game Plan for a Healthy City

“With beautiful vistas and trails, this is a new gem in our mountain parks for the residents of Denver to enjoy, and adds to the 100 year legacy of the system," said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. 

“It’s never been more important to grow our parks and acquire additional land for trails and open space,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Parks and Recreation. “This property will be managed primarily as a conservation area focused on sustainability and will also expand mountain park access for Denver residents and visitors.”  

The 450-acre parcel, located within Jefferson and Gilpin Counties and less than an hour drive from Denver, is adjacent to Roosevelt National Forest and near Arapahoe National Forest, Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Jefferson County Open Space joining over 14,000 acres of contiguous public lands. With mixed conifer and aspen stands, meadows, ponds, a small creek and a historic trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps providing access to nearby Mount Thorodin and Starr Peak, Axton Ranch is well situated to be the first new Mountain Park in Denver’s system since the donation of James Q. Newton Park in Conifer in 1939.  

The property was historically operated as a small cattle ranch and has been in the Axton Family since 1954 spanning 4 generations. The donation also includes a Right of First Offer on an adjacent 38-acres that the Axton Family is retaining. The Right of First Offer provides the city with the first opportunity to acquire the 38-acres if the family decides to sell it.   

"We are excited to donate this beautiful ranch to Denver Mountain Parks,” said the Axton Family. “We feel they will steward and preserve it for future generations to love and enjoy as we have. Congratulations City of Denver for your interest in preservation and your newest mountain park.”  

DPR intends to designate the property as Axton Ranch Mountain Park soon after closing. The designation process will ensure that the new park is protected from future development and real estate transactions. Once a park has been designated, it can only be used for park purposes and that cannot be changed without approval by Denver’s voters.  

A future master plan effort will be conducted to help determine the long-term vision for Axton Ranch Mountain Park to include environmental education and programming opportunities for adults and children to experience and connect to nature. In addition to passive recreational programming, DPR management will focus on forest health, wildlife habitat conservation, wildfire mitigation and watershed stewardship.  

The proposed donation agreement is expected to be presented to the City Council Finance & Governance Committee on February 16th and considered by City Council in March. Axton Ranch will remain private property until the city closes on the donation later this year.