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Mayor Hancock, City Officials Celebrate Official Opening of Denver’s Largest Open Space

198-Acre First Creek at DEN will connect trails in local neighborhoods, neighboring cities and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock, city officials and community members today celebrated the opening of the First Creek at DEN Open Space, the largest open space in Denver spanning 198 acres. The native prairie and large cottonwood trees provide habitat for wildlife such as bald eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls, coyotes and deer.

“It’s rare that just a short distance from an urban setting, but still within city limits, residents and visitors alike get the opportunity to experience and enjoy nature up close and personal like this.” Mayor Hancock said. “Not only is this our largest open space, but partnerships between the city, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, neighboring cities, youth corps and volunteer groups will create learning opportunities and improvements to this land for generations to come.”

First Creek at DEN is located between the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMANWR) and Peña Boulevard, and north of 56th Avenue on Buckley Road. Owned by the city through Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) and DEN signed an interagency permit to designate 198-acres of airport land as open space. Working with the airport, DPR has agreed to manage and maintain the property as Denver’s largest open space and protect its natural resources, including vegetation and wildlife.

“The First Creek at DEN Open Space would not be possible without the support of our partners at Denver International Airport and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation. “This interagency partnership is providing one more place in our park system for Denver’s residents and visitors to connect with nature and enjoy being active outdoors.”

During the celebration, it was also announced that DPR was also recently awarded $50,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for restoration of 200 acres of prairie grassland habitat, removal of fence line, and construction of 6,600 feet of new trail added to the existing First Creek Trail.  In addition, the Colorado Federal Lands Access Program awarded DPR $700,000 to create access points into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest urban open spaces and wildlife refuges in the United States. This will provide direct access to the arsenal for the 60,000 plus residents of far northeast Denver. The was first announced in Mayor Hancock’s 2014 State of the City Address. 

“We could not be more pleased to partner with the City and County of Denver to connect First Creek at DEN Open Space with the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge,” said refuge manager David Lucas, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “As our population becomes increasingly urbanized we must create opportunities like this for urban residents, particularly kids, to connect with nature.”

DPR has already begun restoration plans for the property, including improving the 56th Avenue parking lot to serve as a trailhead connecting this area with trails that exist in the Denver neighborhoods of Montbello, Green Valley Ranch and Parkfield. This Open Space trail system will also connect to trails in Commerce City, as well as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.


About Denver Parks and Recreation
Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) facilities are unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West. The DPR system spans over a 148-year history, from the first park created in 1868 to nearly 20,000 acres of urban parks and mountain parkland today. For more information, visit, check us out on YouTube, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About DEN
Denver International Airport is the 19th-busiest airport in the world and the sixth-busiest airport in the United States. With more than 54 million passengers traveling through the airport each year, DEN is one of the busiest airline hubs in the world’s largest aviation market. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $26 billion for the region annually. For more information visit, check us out on YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.