GREAT DENVER PARKS
Denver may be a world-class metropolis with all the familiar urban sights and sounds, but no matter where you find yourself in the city, you’re likely to be only a few steps away from a lush and relaxing green space. The Mile High City boasts more than 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways, which include 2,500 urban natural acres, over 300 acres of parks designated Rivers & Trails and an additional 14,000 acres of spectacular mountain parks. Here’s a look at ten favorite parks in Denver.
This expansive, multifaceted park, located just east of downtown on 17th Ave. and York St., is Denver’s version of New York City’s Central Park. In the space of 314 lovely, landscaped acres, you’ll find a public golf course, colorful flower gardens, ornate fountains, placid lakes and rolling green lawns perfect for picnics. City Park is home to some of Denver’s most popular attractions, including the Denver Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science, the Martin Luther King Memorial and much more. It’s also got unbeatable views of the Mile High City skyline and the Rocky Mountain Front Range.
Joggers love Cheesman for the crushed granite jogging path that winds its way around the park. But it’s also a popular spot for families, thanks to its large playground, with swings, slides and everything else to delight your young ones. The park, located at Franklin St. and 8th St., also offers a swinging free summer concert series, as well as incredible vistas stretching from the Cheesman Memorial Pavilion to the Front Range.
One of Denver’s most popular spots year-round, Washington Park (nicknamed “Wash Park” by locals) is a spectacular space, with two lakes (boat rentals are available), lovingly looked after flower gardens, innovative playgrounds and countless areas for outdoor recreation. Wash Park is also a favorite for its extensive sports and fitness options, including a recreation center with indoor pool, a bicycle/pedestrian pathway, a crushed granite jogging path, a fitness course, a horseshoe pit, a lawn bowling/croquet area, a soccer field and tennis courts.
Civic Center Park
Located in the heart of downtown Denver, Civic Center Park is always bursting with life, as tourists and locals take advantage of the beautiful landscaping and vibrant atmosphere of this unique urban park. Many events, such as Cinco de Mayo, Peoples Fair, Theatre in the Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Taste of Colorado are traditionally held annually in Civic Center. This spacious plaza, surrounded by monumental government and public buildings, is a stone’s throw from a number of Mile High City attractions, including the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library, the 16th Street Mall and the Colorado State Capitol Building.
Where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet and mingle, you’ll find the unique and scenic Confluence Park. Watch kayakers brave the rapids on custom-designed chutes, sunbathe on the sandy banks and enjoy panoramic views of downtown Denver. In the summer, Confluence Park is home to a free concert series, held every Thursday evening around dusk. The park is close to the REI Flagship Store, the Downtown Aquarium, the Denver Children’s Museum and Elitch Gardens Theme Park.
Sloan’s Lake Park
Located in the up-and-coming Highlands neighborhood of Denver, Sloan’s Lake is an urban oasis, with the enormous Sloan’s Lake taking center stage. In the summer be sure to keep an eye out for water skiers zooming across the lake, framed by a stunning view of the Denver skyline. Bring some food to grill and spread out a picnic blanket or two – there’s plenty of room at this 177-acre park. Sloan’s Lake hosts the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, a celebration of Asian American culture and tradition, featuring a host of amazing dragon boats filling the lake.
One of the city’s newest park additions, Commons Park can be found on the banks of the South Platte River in a spot that just happens to be the city’s birthplace. It’s a pleasing mix of natural and urban influences: Close to 40% of the park is covered by native plants, a piece of reconstructed lush "sand prairie" close to what would have existed in the area originally. Meanwhile, the promenade along Little Raven Street is a tree-lined walkway dotted with many seating areas and entries, to connect the park to downtown Denver and the parks' future neighbor, the Commons Neighborhood.
Adjacent to the 16th Street Mall, Skyline Park offers an easy getaway for the approximately 110,000 people who spend their workday in downtown Denver. Located at 15th and Arapahoe Sts., Skyline Park is always a fun place to spend a little time in, especially during the summer, with free lunch hour concerts and evening movies taking place on a regular basis. You’ll also find an information kiosk, a retail/concession stand and public restrooms here.
Centennial Flower Gardens
Just steps away from Elitch Gardens Theme Park and the South Platte River, the Centennial Flower Gardens are a must-see for anyone with any interest in gardening. The Gardens are patterned after the Gardens of Versailles, with paths and patterned flowerbeds showcasing native species along with other flowers that grow well in Colorado’s arid climate. This is a great spot for a refreshing afternoon stroll.
Bear Creek Park
Escape from the hustle and bustle of city life at Bear Creek Park – without even leaving the city. Almost 100 acres of unspoiled natural beauty, this spectacular park is divided by Bear Creek. The north side of the park provides picnic, playground and recreational facilities. The south side of Bear Creek Park is the largest undeveloped park area within Denver's city limits, offering a look at nature in a native setting.