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PARKS & RECREATION: REGULATIONS & POLICIES

Park Rules

How can I report a problem in a park?

Residents should report issues to pocketgov.com or 311 (720-913-1311) so that a case can be generated, routed to the appropriate agency/team, tracked and closed.

How can I report park rule violations?

Park users who witness behavior that violates Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) Rules and Regulations can report the activity while it is occurring to the Denver Park Ranger Office by calling 311 (720-913-1311). Depending on resources available, a Ranger can be dispatched to the area to further assess the situation. For emergencies, call 911.

Who are the Park Rangers?

The mission of Denver Park Rangers is to protect park resources, maximize public safety in parks, and to provide visitors with resources. Rangers patrol daily from 3:00am until 10:30pm by foot, bicycle and motorized vehicles, making contact with park visitors to educate them about the reasons for various rules, regulations and policies. Additionally, Denver Park Rangers host free, educational youth and family activities such as Fishing is Fun and the Jr. Ranger program. Visit denvergov.org/ParkRangers for schedules and additional details.

What are the rules on trails?

Bicycles are only allowed on park roads and designated off-street trails and must obey the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour. Crusher-fine trails are designed with erosion, intersections, landscape and other obstacles in mind to optimize safety and maintenance resources. When joggers and walkers veer off-trail to create shortcuts, surrounding vegetation is damaged which causes further erosion to the trail, increasing maintenance costs and creating collision hazards. Denver Parks and Recreation’s complete list of rules and regulations can be found on denvergov.org/ParkRules.

Can I ride electric scooters or bicycles on off-street trails?

Motorized vehicles are defined as any vehicle, device, or trailer (whether or not attached to a motorized vehicle) including but not limited to an automobile, truck, van, sports utility vehicle, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, motor scooter or bike.

The regulation of such devices is important to the safe and harmonious public use of park facilities. City and County of Denver staff are actively working to evaluate current ordinance language and determine the best location for users to operate these types of toy vehicles in the public right-of-way in order to maintain both public safety and infrastructure. Safety for all users of our transportation network is of utmost priority as we review options and evaluate the pilot program.

Learn more about Denver’s policies regarding dockless electric scooters and bikes, including general guidelines for users of these amenities.

 

Park Operations

When do parks open and close?

Parks are open daily. Urban parks are open from 5:00am to 11:00pm. Mountain parks are open from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. Remaining in any park property after hours is prohibited.

When do I need a park permit?

Permits are required for gatherings larger than 25 people and for exclusive use of picnic sites and shelters, along with athletic fields. The Park Permit Office can be reached at park.permits@denvergov.org or 720-913-0700.  Picnic sites are available for reservation April 1–October 1 in urban parks, and May 1–September 30 in mountain parks. Picnic permit requests are accepted each year beginning in mid-February. Visit denvergov.org/Picnics for more information or to book a site.  

Where can I find a schedule of events in parks?

The Denver Office of Special Events maintains an event calendar of all public events held on city property. Find the schedule at denvergov.org/SpecialEvents.

How do I know if athletic fields are closed?

Athletic fields open in mid-March and close the first week of November, except for synthetic turf fields which are open during the winter season by permit only. Conditions and closure notices can be found by calling the Athletic Field Hotline at 720-865-6978, which is updated daily at 2:00pm. For weather impacts, the hotline is updated at 6:30am Monday-Friday, and 7:30am on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, visit denvergov.org/Permits.

Can I park my vehicle in a park overnight?

Overnight parking in parks is prohibited in all parks to minimize potential noise and traffic impacts on neighbors. Parking is only allowed in designated areas during park hours (urban parks: 5am – 11pm; mountain parks: 1 hr. before sunrise – 1 hr. after sunset).

Is there a lost and found?

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) does not maintain a lost and found system. Park Operations staff rarely come across personal items—it is more likely that other park visitors pick up lost items or that their owner finds them by re-visiting the location. If you come across an item you’d like to turn in, email parksandrecreation@denvergov.org to be connected with the most appropriate maintenance shop or recreation center.

When do park restrooms open?

Park restrooms open mid-April but may close temporarily when temperatures drop below freezing. Portable toilets are deployed at permitted athletic fields the last week in March, and the last week in April at picnic sites. Denver Parks and Recreation tries to keep restrooms open through the permit season but may close them early due to frost.

When are water fountains turned on?

Drinking fountains are activated in early May and kept on until early October. Decorative and interactive play fountains are turned on in late May, usually around Memorial Day, once the threat of frost has passed. Interactive play fountains operate daily from 11:00am – 7:00pm.

Why are some drinking fountains not turned on?

Some drinking fountains were constructed prior to Denver Water implementing upgraded pipeline standards for drinking water. These older drinking fountains do not comply with potable water requirements and are therefore non-operational.

When are flowerbeds planted?

Annual flower displays are planted between mid-May and early June each year and remain in parks until early-mid October when flowerbeds and irrigation systems are winterized.

Why can’t parks be irrigated at night only?

Parks are irrigated during overnight hours into the morning. Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) irrigation systems start at 9:00pm and run through the night in different zones. Because of water flow limitations and the large size of some parks, irrigation zones may run into the morning hours when people are more likely to use parks and trails. Specific days and run-times of certain zones vary significantly due to changing seasonal water needs, rain holds, mow schedules, seed/sod establishment, and associated adjustments to mow schedules. DPR realizes this may cause an inconvenience for some park users and appreciates the public’s understanding of maintenance requirements and scheduling limitations.

What does Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) do about weeds in parks?

An increase in dandelions is common in April and May, following a dry winter and spring. Mow schedules begin late April, making them much less noticeable by summer. If there are still concentrations of weeds in the fall, and in high-traffic turf, operations staff will do their best to spot-spray those areas. Fall is the best time to spray post-emergent perennial and biennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, as the herbicides are more likely to reach the root system.

DPR’s goal is to implement Best Management Practices to support a strong turf management program, reducing the need for post-emergent herbicides on broadleaf weeds such as dandelions. DPR’s Best Management Practices include proper irrigation, mowing, fertilization and aeration—which is the most effective way to reduce weed competition in turf and is practiced in the 2,500+ acres of turf maintained by Denver Parks and Recreation.

Why do dog parks close sometimes?

Off-leash areas require continual upkeep which is a shared responsibility with dog park users. Deteriorating conditions due to accumulating pet waste, holes from digging, litter, etc. may result in the closure of a dog park. Signage is posted outside each dog park indicating the status of its condition which is monitored by park staff:

  • Green: Off-leash area is in good condition
  • Yellow: Off-leash area needs attention and will close soon if not cleaned up by dog park users
  • Red: Off-leash area is in poor condition and is closed until a volunteer cleanup is organized

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) established the Adopt-A-Dog Park program to enable civic groups, neighbors, individuals and businesses to help keep their local dog park clean. To organize a volunteer group, visit denvergov.org/VolunteerDPR, fill out the Adopt-a-Dog Park Agreement and return to tina.myers@denvergov.org

 

Park Improvements

How can I get involved in a volunteer project?

Volunteers are vital in helping Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) provide quality spaces and amenities to the city’s residents, and are needed year-round in urban and mountain parks—visit godenverparks.denvergov.org to connect with our volunteer community, and to sign up for one-time or ongoing projects. Visit denvergov.org/VolunteerDPR to learn more about the various volunteer opportunities within DPR, or to contact the DPR Volunteer Coordinator.

When are park and recreation improvements coming to my neighborhood?

Small fixes like broken sprinklers or playground equipment can be reported through pocketgov.com for immediate review from our operations team. Larger projects like playground and court upgrades take longer to complete. Every quarter, planning and park operations management meet to look at department's improvement requests, using a number of factors to determine levels of need and priorities throughout the city's 250+ parks and 29 recreation centers.

How are new projects and upgrades in parks and recreation centers prioritized?

Improvements and upgrades are decided on through the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) process: Each quarter, park operations & planning management reviews the list of inquiries and reports that have come in via pocketgov.com or Denver 311 (720-913-1311). From there, repairs and upgrades are prioritized based on multiple factors such as safety issues, available resources, location and other current projects going on in the area. Project scope is also considered—sometimes short-term repairs are not completed right away to save resources if a more extensive replacement or upgrade is ultimately needed.

 

Recreation

How do I sign up for recreation activities?

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) hosts a variety of programming for all ages at the city’s 28 recreation centers and pools. Visit denvergov.org/Recreation to find drop-in fitness classes along with membership information and our comprehensive activity guide (also available in all Denver Recreation Centers).

When do outdoor pools open?

The outdoor pool season begins the first week of June and lasts until mid-late August. Some pools open earlier and close later than others due to maintenance issues and/or staffing resources. Visit denvergov.org/SwimmingPools for pool schedules and closure announcements. Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) makes every effort to extend the outdoor pool season as long as possible, but staffing limitations are frequently a challenge, as many lifeguards’ availability is impacted by school schedules. DPR Aquatics offers free lifeguard certification training in an effort to continually recruit team members of all ages. Email aquaticsjobs@denvergov.org for more information.

Notifications, Regulations & Other Information

Notice is hereby given that the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation has proposed a new Athletic Permit Policy. The intent of the policy is to organize processes related to how athletic permits are fulfilled, how requests are prioritized, state the regulations and allowable use for permittees, permittable hours and dates, and consequences for policy violations.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will hear public comments on this policy on August 8, 2018 at 5:30 pm at the regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, held at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building, located at 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.F.6.

Read the Athletic Permit Policy, as drafted.

Final Alcohol Policy: effective January 1, 2019

Read the policy (PDF)

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CITY & COUNTY OF DENVER | DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
NOTICE OF REVISED ALCOHOL POLICY

Notice is hereby given that the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City & County of Denver has proposed revisions to the Alcohol Policy as of June 15, 2018. The intent of the proposed revisions is to simplify the policy, provide more clarity to permit holders and park users, and add consistency for permitted events. In addition, the proposed revisions are intended to allow for the public consumption of wine and beer in Denver parks, to address the change in state law effective January 2019. This revision will sunset at the end of 2019, in order to review potential effects. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will hear public comments on this revised policy on July 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm at the regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, held at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building, located at 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.F.6. A copy of the Alcohol Policy, as modified, is on file with the Manager of Parks and Recreation and accessible for download via the link below:

DRAFT Policy as of June 2018 (.pdf)

DRAFT Policy as of June 2018 (.docx)

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Read the current policy (PDF)

Learn more about the proposed revisions (PDF)

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Public Survey

SURVEY CLOSED (4/23/2018): email parksandrecreation@denvergov.org to submit additional comments]

Review the full results summary now! (PDF)

For most of the questions asked in the survey, more than 50% of respondents agree with the proposed changes. This is the case both overall, and when divided out into three major age groups (40 and under; 41 to 60; and 61+).

In addition to the survey, DPR received numerous emails from the public and took feedback at a handful of neighborhood organizations meetings where a presentation was requested. The comments and questions received at these meetings is summarized in the report as well. 

Current Public Hearing/Council Committee Schedule:

  • June 19, 2018: LUTI presentation to City Council Committee (agendas posted here as they are created)

  • July 11, 2018: PRAB Public Hearing (public comments are welcome, and agendas are posted here as they are created. This date will also be announced here.

  • These schedules may change. Details will be posted online once finalized. Both meetings are open to the public. 

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Background Information

Denver Parks & Recreation's (DPR) alcohol policy was established in September 2007, and amended in May 2011, February 2012 and May 2012, resulting in the current policy which is overly-complicated and inconsistent.

In an effort to simplify how rules and regulations are enforced at DPR facilities across the city, a revision to the DPR Alcohol Policy is being proposed and your feedback is wanted.

The intent of these proposed revisions is to:

  • Simplify the policy
  • Provide more clarity to park users and permit holders
  • Consistently implement policy requirements in facilities throughout the city
  • Accommodate upcoming changes to state liquor laws

PROPOSED revision summary: 

  1. Permitted events (public, private, races/walks, and athletic tournaments) would be treated the same when it comes to selling and serving alcohol. Events would be allowed to sell or serve all types of alcohol, ending restrictions in some parks where beer, wine and champagne only are allowed. 
  2. All DPR parks would be able to host permitted events where alcohol is served or sold. Other standard restrictions would remain in place, such as permit requirements, public event rulesrest periodsnoise regulations, and capacity limits.
  3. All permitted events held at DPR buildings (event facilitiesgolf clubhouses, and recreation centers) would be treated the same when it comes to serving or selling alcohol. Events would be allowed to sell or serve all types of alcohol, ending restrictions in some buildings where beer, wine and champagne only are allowed, with the exception that such permitted events in recreation centers must be closed to the public.
  4. Events such as demonstrations and assemblies (protests, marches) will be prohibited from acquiring a permit to serve or sell alcohol.
  5. References to 3.2% beer will be removed from DPR rules and regulations. Public consumption in Denver parks and open areas will follow Colorado State law. In 2019, state law will no longer require a designation for 3.2% beer, likely ending the distinction from full-strength beer.

Read the full list of proposed revisions (DRAFT PDF)

Questions? Pease send an email to parksandrecreation@denvergov.org.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the policy being revised?
The purpose of the revisions is to eliminate inconsistencies that exist throughout the current policy, align the policy with changes to state liquor laws, and add a variety of restrictions and requirements. This uniformity will improve regulation and enforcement.

What does it mean to “permit” a park for an event?
Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) issues a variety of permits to reserve all or a portion of a park for various activities. These include public events, races and walks, picnics, assemblies, athletics, etc. There are restrictions and requirements associated with a permit depending on the permit type, location, and the associated activity. To obtain a permit, an application must be submitted to the DPR Permitting Office that ensures that the request meets all restrictions and requirements. Details of the process along with the associated restrictions and requirements can be found at www.denvergov.org/permits.

What needs to be done to sell alcohol at an event?
If an event meets all DPR restrictions and requirements, a “Pending Permit” is issued. The applicant takes the “Pending Permit” to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses and applies for a liquor license. Denver Excise and Licenses processes the application and approves or denies the license request based on the applicable liquor laws.

What is required to get a liquor license?
Detailed requirements on what is needed for a liquor license can be found at: www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-business-licensing-center.html

Do the proposed changes to the DPR policy mean that I will be able to drink full strength beer in parks?
Currently, and until December 31, 2018, only 3.2% beer (in cans) can be consumed by the public in Denver parks which is based upon state liquor law. The Colorado State Legislature recently passed legislation enabling local municipalities to establish their own regulations governing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. The legislation is currently on the governor’s desk awaiting signature. If signed, Denver will begin the process of establishing regulations with the intention of them being in place prior to the end of the year.

Do the proposed changes to the DPR policy mean that I will be able to drink any type of alcohol in parks?
The answer falls into two categories.

  • General public consumption – Starting in 2019, the types of alcoholic beverage able to be consumed will be governed by the regulations disseminated by the State of Colorado or the City and County of Denver, if the governor signs the pending state legislation. Until December 31, 2018, only 3.2% beer (in cans) can be consumed by the public in Denver parks.
  • Permitted Activity- With the propose changes, any type of alcoholic beverage would be allowed to be served and/or sold at private, by invitation only, events (special occasion permits). Any type of alcoholic beverage would also be allowed to be served and/or sold at public events if the appropriate liquor license is obtained. Other types of permitted activity (such as certain athletic and demonstration/assembly permits) would not allow serving or selling any alcoholic beverages.

Do the proposed changes to the policy mean that our parks will have bars or facilities that sell alcohol in our parks and recreation centers to the public?
No. The proposed policy only addresses permitted activity and general consumption. Any commercial food and beverage is managed via a concession license and must be approved by Denver City Council.

Do proposed changes mean that there will be unlimited events in parks?
No. The proposed policy only governs what can occur at events in relation to alcoholic beverages. All rules and guidelines governing how many and what types of events can occur remain in place including DPR’s rest period program.

Will the number of races and runs in parks increase with the proposed policy changes?
DPR does not expect an increase in the number of races and runs in parks due to the proposed changes to the alcohol policy. However, DPR will monitor this issue and can implement additional limits beyond DPR’s rest period program if needed.

What implication will the proposed changes have on enforcement for Denver Park Rangers and Denver Police?
DPR has discussed the proposed policy changes with both DPR Park Rangers and Denver Police. We do not anticipate that these policy changes will result in significantly increased demand on these resources. We will be monitoring this and will modify the policy if the impact is excessive.

Would this policy change lead to competition with the bars and restaurants surrounding parks?
DPR does not believe this policy change will impact bars and restaurants surrounding parks. Only attendees would be able to purchase alcoholic beverages at an event, as is currently the case where alcoholic beverages are sold at events.

If the proposed changes are approved, will they be monitored over time?
Absolutely. All affected city agencies (DPR Permitting, DPR Park Rangers, Denver Police, Denver Excise and Licenses) will be monitoring any impacts of the new policy and a formal review will occur at the end of the 2019 event season. Modifications will be made to the policy at that time if necessary.

Will glass bottles still be prohibited?
Yes, glass bottles in the park will still be prohibited.

Will this impact me playing softball with our “beer league”?
As is currently the case, the permit holder (league organizer) cannot sell or serve alcoholic beverages. The ability for individual participants to bring their own alcoholic beverages will be governed by the “general public consumption” section of the policy (please see the answer to question #6).

How will the proposed rule of no alcohol within 50 feet of playgrounds work?
The distance between playgrounds and alcohol serving stations will be verified via a site map and/or an on-site, pre-event inspection.

Where do picnic sites fit into this policy change?
The sale or serving of alcoholic beverages will be prohibited in association with a picnic permit. Consumption of alcoholic beverages will be governed by the “general public consumption” section of the policy (please see the answer to question #5).

Is this being done to please commercial interests?
No. The only type of liquor license that is available for park events is a Special Event Liquor License and only non-profit organizations can obtain this license. Commercial entities cannot obtain this license.

Will DPR and the city make money from having more events with alcohol?
Permit fees collected are intended to cover the cost of administering events. Since DPR does not anticipate a significant increase in events, we do not expect the revenue associated with permits to increase.

Why do Washington Park and Sloan’s Lake have different rules in the first place?
There were specific circumstances in these parks when the alcohol policy was initially implemented that prompted the DPR Manager at the time to modify the rules for these parks.

Will kegs be allowed in the park?
No. Kegs will not be allowed in Denver parks.

Does City Council need to approve this policy change?
Denver City Council does not approve this change in this DPR policy. Under the Denver City Charter, rules and regulations for Parks and Recreations are promulgated by the Parks and Recreation Department. Denver City Charter vests the authority to establish rules and regulations for Parks and Recreation to the DPR Manager (Executive Director). City Council members, however, have been briefed and have provided input into the policy. A briefing will be made to the Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Council Committee prior to the policy’s formal adoption.

Will the policy change restrict public access to parks?
No. Events that require a ticket for entrance are governed by DPR’s Admission Based Event Policy.

  1. Dogs and pets must be on leash and under physical control at all times.
  2. Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly.
  3. No alcoholic beverages or public consumption of alcohol (only 3.2 beer is allowed).
  4. No use or display of marijuana or use of illegal drugs.
  5. No glass bottles or any glass containers allowed in parks.
  6. No littering. Use trash cans and dumpsters or pack it out.
  7. No weapons, firearms, or fireworks.
  8. Disturbing the peace, including loud music or sound, is prohibited.
  9. The sale of goods and services requires a Parks and Recreation Permit.
  10. No overnight camping, tents, enclosures, or other unpermitted structures such as air castles, pools, or water slides.
  11. Motorized vehicles allowed only on roads and in parking areas. No overnight parking is allowed in any park.
  12. Large gatherings normally require a permit. To reserve a permit site call Denver Parks and Recreation Permit Office at (720)913-0700
  13. Do not attach anything to trees or structures.
  14. Removal or damage to plants or structures is prohibited.
  15. Fires and coals are allowed in grills only. Grills must be least 12 inches off the ground.
  16. Thoroughly extinguish all charcoals, dispose of properly or pack it out.
  17. No feeding or disturbing wildlife. A license is required for fishing.
  18. No boating without a permit. Safety equipment is required including a personal flotation device.
  19. No swimming is allowed except in swimming pools.
  20. Swimming or wading in fountains is prohibited.
  21. Rock climbing and off-trail use is prohibited at Red Rocks and Summit Lake Parks.

A full copy of the Department of Parks and Recreation Rules and Regulations is available for download (PDF).  Violators of park rules and regulations are subject to fines and eviction from the park.

Download park rules summary (PDF)

 

Ver el resumen de las reglas del parque (PDF)

 

 

Park Use Rules and Regulations – Governing Public Activities, Uses and Behavior in Parks, Parkways, Mountain Parks, Recreation Facilities,  and other Public Facilities under the Auspices of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation. 

View full park use rules and regulations

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Administrative Citations Rules and Regulations – Governing Use of Administrative Citations for the Enforcement of Article I of Chapter 39 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code and associated Rules, Regulations and Directives

Amended and restated November 18, 2015: View administrative citation rules

This Policy is adopted by the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation (“DPR”) for the purpose of providing some clarity as to the designation status of and the protections afforded to Denver parks under the existing legal framework and to make clear the public process with respect to designation of Denver parks in accordance with the City Charter and City procedures.

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Public Hearing: Park Designation Policy

Date: Wed. November 9
Time: 5:30PM
Location: Webb Municipal Building | Room 4.F.6

Notice is hereby given that the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation is drafting a new policy that would provide clarity as to the designation status of and the protections afforded to Denver parks under the existing legal framework and to make clear the public process with respect to designation of Denver parks in accordance with the City Charter and City procedures.

A copy of the proposed Park Designation Policy is on file with the Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation and is available for public inspection online. A public hearing will take place on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 during the regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, which is held at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building, located at 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.F.6 at 5:30 p.m. 

The Plan identifies core services, points out duplication in services, recommends service provision strategies, and recommends resource allocation and pricing strategies. It enhances partnerships and helps meet the future needs of Denver residents, and those who work in and visit the community.

Full Report, June 10, 2013
Summary

CITY & COUNTY OF DENVER
DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
NOTICE OF RECREATION CUSTOMER CODE OF CONDUCT POLICY
 
Notice is hereby given that the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has proposed a Recreation Customer Code of Conduct Policy. The intent of the proposed policy is to outline what conduct is acceptable and unacceptable while in DPR recreation centers, pools, or participating in recreation programs.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
will hear public comments on this policy on November 14, 2018 at 5:30 pm at the regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board,
held at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building, located at 201 W. Colfax Ave., Room 4.F.6. A copy of the Recreation Customer Code of Conduct, as modified, is on file with the Manager of Parks and Recreation and accessible via this linkRead the policy now (PDF)

Partnerships

Denver Parks & Recreation works with a variety of organizations to deliver programs, services and amenities to Denver residents and visitors. 

Learn more »