Historic Wonders of the Mountain Parks

Explore the incredible history of Denver’s “pleasure ground in the mountains” through these history pages. One hundred years and counting!

A Visionary Endeavor: The Denver Mountain Parks (DMP) were established in 1912 when Denver citizens voted to fund the system and bought its first park, Genesee Mountain. It took an Act of Congress and State legislation. Farsighted Mayor Robert Speer and other civic leaders realized that scenic areas in the mountains near Denver had to be protected and preserved or they could be lost forever. But it was the “commercial bodies”— the Denver Real Estate Exchange, Denver Chamber of Commerce, and Denver Motor Club— who took the lead in making the parks happen. The committee they formed guided the early development of this park system.

The Mountain Parks Committee wrote in 1911, “A Mountain Park for Denver will be the first step, and, perhaps, the greatest step, in the great movement of making our mountains available for the people. We believe the Mountain Park should be more than a picnic place; it should be a summer home for the people of Denver, and indeed for the tourists of the nation.” This visionary act of conservation predated the national open space movement by at least 50 years.

The rustic log and stone buildings and roads framing spectacular views that make the Mountain Parks distinctive are the work of well-known architects and landscape architects. Denver has preserved the land for generations to come. The entire system is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Looking for information on today’s Denver Mountain Parks? Visit the DMP Foundation homepage for links, downloads, maps, and more.

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