The Denver Parks and Recreation Department, one of the nation’s largest park systems, maintains more than 350 parks and pathways throughout the metro area. Interactive programs and educational resources are the focus of 29 recreation centers located within Denver parks, with learning opportunities for every age group.
Denver is unique in that it also owns an extensive mountain parks system. The city owns 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas. Denver’s mountain parks system has extensive trails for hiking and biking, plus picnic areas and other facilities open to the public. The following are just some of the area’s premier parks:
Aurora Reservoir5800 S. Powhaton Road Aurora, 80013 303-690-1286 www.auroragov.org
More than 820 acres of water offer great fishing, sailing, swimming, and other water activities. Gas-powered watercraft is banned. A park pass is required for park entry.
Bluff Lake Nature Center7350 E. 29th Ave., Suite 300 Denver, 80238 303-468-3240 www.blufflakenaturecenter.org
Part of the former Stapleton International Airport, Bluff Lake opened to the public in 1997 as a 123-acre wildlife refuge. Bluff Lake links parks and habitat along the Sand Creek corridor.
Chatfield State Park11500 N. Roxborough Park Road Littleton, 80125 303-791-7275 www.parks.state.co.us
Chatfield offers water sports, fishing, hiking, birding and horseback riding opportunities. Overnight campsites are available by reservation. Chatfield also has a marina and a hot-air balloon launch area.
Cherry Creek Reservoir State Park4201 S. Parker Road Aurora, 80014 303-699-3860 www.parks.state.co.us
Bicyclists, hikers and water lovers alike enjoy this natural area with its camping space and marina.
City Park17th Avenue and York Street
City Park’s lush 314 acres includes a lake, playgrounds, tennis courts and gardens. The east end of the park is home to the Denver Zoo and the Museum of Nature and Science. City Park hosts a summer concert series, Run for the Zoo and the Black Arts Festival.
Civic Center ParkBroadway and Colfax Avenue
Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr., Civic Center Park is located in the heart of downtown Denver. The State Capitol is to the east, the City and County Building is to the west, and other civic institutions surround the park. Many major public events are held at the park annually.
Cook ParkSouth Monaco Parkway and East Mexico Avenue
Amenities at this popular park include an outdoor pool; rugby, soccer and softball fields; a children’s playground, and a recreation center.
Highline Canal Trail
This popular hiking, biking and horseback riding trail begins at a diversion dam on the South Platte River and runs 68 miles east-northeast through Douglas, Arapahoe and Denver counties. The trail ends at First Creek in the Green Valley Ranch area just northeast of Denver.
Roxborough State Park4751 Roxborough Drive Littleton, 80125 303-973-3959 www.parks.state.co.us
Famous for its natural rock formations, Roxborough offers hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and sightseeing – in addition to a variety of educational programs.
Washington ParkS. Downing Street and E. Louisiana Avenue
A popular recreational site, amenities include fishing, picnic areas, tennis courts, a soccer field, half basketball court, flower gardens, a pool, horseshoe pit, lawn bowling/ croquet and a walking/biking path. The City Ditch, a national historic landmark, also flows through the park, providing irrigation.