A guide to Denver’s Mountain Parks

Get out of the city and head to the mountains

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Summer is not quite over, and the mountains continue to draw many people away from the busy city. Did you know that Denver manages some of those mountain parks we know and love?

Denver Parks and Recreation manages Denver’s Mountain Parks, a system established in 1912 that today extends across four counties outside of Denver city limits. These include 22 accessible parks and 24 conservation areas comprising 14,000 acres. Together with Denver’s urban parks, this park system is one of the most expansive in the western United States.

There are 15 Denver Mountain Parks including Bergen, Corwina, Daniels, Dedisse, Echo Lake, Fillius, Genesee, Little, Lookout Mountain, Morrison, Newton, O’Fallon, Pence, Red Rocks and Summit Lake. Each is unique and offers a variety of hiking trails, early 20th-century built stone forts, picnic areas, scenic landscapes, golfing, fishing, bird-watching, outdoor concert-going, and camping and lodging, among other options.

Cyndi Karvaski, marketing and media relations for Denver Parks and Recreation, said it is estimated that more than 2 million people a year visit the parks. Brian Kitts, director of Red Rocks for Denver parks said that 1.3 million paid concert goers attend the Red Rocks amphitheater each season, along with another 1 million nonpaid visitors. That makes Red Rocks the most visited location in Colorado. Kitts added that at any given event, nearly 30% of those in attendance are from outside Denver.

Denver Mountain Parks also manages some conservation lands not open to the public. These include iconic landscapes and protected areas critical to wildlife habitats and to maintaining the natural and scenic character of the Denver foothills.

Here are some of the highlights of the Denver Mountain Parks:

Bergen: 25 acres, recognized for its open grasslands and mature ponderosa pine forest. A 1917-built stone shelter sits in the center of the park and is made of white quartz and timber. Located at Interstate 70 West to exit 252 onto Highway 74, County Road 65 in Evergreen.

Corwina: 298 acres, showcases various plant communities in Bear Creek Canyon, along with a stone shelter built in 1918. The park straddles Bear Creek and Highway 74 and most is dominated by slopes of dense Ponderosa Pine and Douglas fir. Located at 25280 CO-74 in Morrison.

Daniels: 1,000 acres and the only Denver park located in Douglas County. Features a unique sandstone ridge setting, historic ranch, bison herd and a 100-mile view of the Front Range extending from Pike’s Peak to the Mummy Range near the Wyoming border. Located at 7549 N. Daniels Park Road in Sedalia.

Dedisse Park and Evergreen Lake: 420 acres with views to the west towards Elephant Butte, Hicks Mountain and Bergen Peak. Also features the 18-hole Evergreen Golf Course. Located at 29200 Upper Bear Creek Road in Evergreen.

Echo Lake: 616 acres, features a natural lake at 10,600 feet in the valley at the base of Goliath Peak, surrounded by a thick spruce-fir forest. Located at CO-103 and Mt. Evans Road in Evergreen.

Fillius: 107 acres, is adjacent to Highway 74 going toward Squaw Pass and Evergreen. Features a stone shelter designed by J.J.B. Benedict built in 1918, with views of the Continental Divide. Located at 1100-1178 Bergen Parkway in Evergreen.

Genesee: The site of the first acquisition for the Mountain Park system. A 1912 campaign to save its pine forest from becoming lumber was the impetus. At 2,413 acres, it is the largest park in the system. Located at 26771 Genesee Lane in Golden.

Little: 400 acres and the first park along Bear Creek Road west of Idledale. Features a unique octagonal-roofed well house built in 1919. Located at 21763 Miller Lane in Morrison.

Lookout: With a panoramic view from the Continental Divide to downtown Denver. Also features the grave and historic collection of Buffalo Bill, wooded foothills, mountain meadows, a distinctive stone shelter and a twisting scenic mountain road. Located at 987 Lookout Mountain Road in Golden.

Newton: 600 acres, near Conifer along Highway 285 South with stands of aspens. Located at 11026 U.S. Highway 285 in Conifer.

Martin J. O’Fallon: 860-acre site donated to the park system in 1938. It connected Corwina and Pence Parks and the three now comprise 1,487 acres. Includes wetlands, riparian forest, open meadows, watershed and evergreen forests. Located at 25500 CO-74 in Morrison.

Pence: Consists of a large, northeast facing ridgeline (Independence Mountain) that provides a backdrop to Myers Gulch and Parmalee Gulch Road. Located at 4400 Parmalee Gulch Road in Evergreen.

Red Rocks and Morrison: 868 acres, named for its towering 300-foot sandstone rock formations. Features a unique natural amphitheater, stage and seating area. Located at 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison.

Summit Lake: At 12,840 feet and its 160-acre park is surrounded by National Forest lands and the Mt. Evans wilderness. Located at I-70 West to CO-103 South, Idaho Springs, exit 240 in Evergreen.

For more information on all of Denver’s mountain parks, go to https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-parks-and-recreation/parks/mountain-parks.html.

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