Constructed between 1912 and 1941, the Denver Mountain Parks are a rural park and parkway system consisting of 47 foothill and mountain parks interconnected by scenic drives. The City of Denver owns approximately 13,500 acres of mountain land located in the counties of: Clear Creek, Douglas, Grand and Jefferson.
The mountain park system was planned and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., nationally recognized landscape architect; Saco Rienk DeBoer, Denver landscape architect; and Jules Jacques Benois Benedict and Burnham Hoyt, prominent Denver architects. The unique linkage of mountain parks and scenic drives preserved scenic and recreational mountain resources within easy reach of Denver residents, expanded the normal vision of urban parks and parkways, and set the stage for regional open space planning in Colorado. The development of the system reflects three national movements of the 20th century: the City Beautiful Movement, the National and State Park Movement, and the Civilian Conservation Corps Movement. (Cover documentation accepted by National Register in 1990.)
This park district consists of three contiguous parks, acquired and developed between 1914-1938, which together form one large, diverse recreational facility, encompassing approximately 1,338 acres. The parks encompass some of the most attractive, gently sloping areas along Bear Creek and a long mountain ridge that affords good views to the north, east, and west.
Beginning in 1913, a series of land acquisitions resulted in this approximately 2,400-acre park. Genesee Mountain reaches an altitude of 8,200 feet, and numerous deep canyons, mountainous ridges, valleys, and gorges are among the natural features. Completed in 1914, Genesee Mountain Road winds up to the Genesee Game Preserves located on the mountain’s western side.
Officially opened in 1913, Lariat Trail was the first of several scenic drives constructed as part of Denver’s mountain park system. Beginning in Golden, where two 35-foot high stone pylons mark the entry, the drive connects with Floyd Hill Road at the top of Mount Vernon Canyon.
The approximately sixty-five acre park includes the nearly level top of Lookout Mountain, offering panoramic views of the Colorado Plains, the Front Range mountains, and the Denver metropolitan area. The famed William Frederick Cody (Buffalo Bill) is buried within the park boundaries.
Little Park joined the Denver Mountain Park system in 1917. The unusual eight-sided stone shelter house was designed by Denver architect Jules J.B. Benedict and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Previously listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1990 under Denver Mountain Parks, the historic district is nationally significant under the themes Developing the American Economy, in the area of governmental policies and practices, and Expressing Cultural Values in the areas of architecture and landscape architecture. The architect and builders are outlined as Burnham Hoyt, Stanley Morse, the Civilian Conservation Corps, National Park Service, Works Progress Administration, and U. S. Department of the Army.