For more than 100 years, Denver’s Mountain Parks have made the city's park system one of the most unique in the country, offering a place for people to play in the mountains. Extending across four counties outside of Denver city limits, 22 accessible parks and 24 conservation areas make up 14,000 acres of one of the most expansive park systems in the west.
The Mountain Parks were established to provide scenic outings close to home for Denver area residents, and picnics quickly became one of the most popular activities with park visitors.
Dates available: May 1 – September 30
Daily hours available: 9:00am - 8:00pm
View special notes on mountain park picnic permits (PDF)
Some of the most scenic and important lands in the Denver Mountain Parks system were purchased for their open space value and were intended never to be developed. The prominent mountaintops, forested ridges, steep slopes of dense mixed evergreen forests, rocky outcrops, and narrow riparian corridors of Denver’s conservation/wilderness areas provide critical wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and dramatic scenic backdrops. Most of the highly visible peaks and ridges along the main routes west, including US 285, Highways 73 and 74 through Evergreen, and US I-70, that are not dotted with houses today are Denver Mountain Park properties. Most are surrounded by private land that was purchased over the decades, which, as a result, has cut off or limited public access today. Public use is not encouraged or facilitated on these properties due to a lack of access, parking, and sustainable trails. The conservation parcels continue to fulfill their original role—to protect the natural and scenic character of the Denver foothills.
The permanent and protected role of these conservation parcels was clearly intended. When Denver acquired land for these Mountain Parks, many deed restrictions were included in the transfer from government or private property to city ownership. For example, deed restrictions for more than 5,000 acres from USDA Forest Service Lands prohibit non-park activities or sale of the land—“that said city and county shall not have the right to sell or convey the land.” Other parks, such as those acquired from private ownership, restricted the land “for park and parkway purposes only.” The protection of watershed and wildlife habitat is becoming increasingly important as the metropolitan region’s population grows and open space disappears. The Mountain Parks have land that contributes to the integrity of the region’s watersheds, notably Bear Creek, Clear Creek, and smaller tributaries, all of which eventually reach the Platte River. These conservation parcels provide important ecological services which benefit the entire region.
Depending on weather, Jefferson County may issue fire bans which impact Denver Mountain Parks
Mountain Park facilities receive a lot of wear-and-tear both from park visitors and the high-altitude elements. Volunteer teams have always been an essential component of our Mountain Park operations. Learn more at GoDenverParks.denvergov.org.