The mission of the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation is to restore the historical integrity, relevance, quality and appreciation for Denver's Mountain Parks system; to advocate for it and ensure its future as a recreational, educational and open space resource for the City of Denver: its citizens, neighbors and visitors.
The Denver Mountain Parks Foundation was established in 2004 for the purpose of ensuring that the historical integrity and relevance of the Denver Mountain Parks. The Foundation's primary function has been to raise funds for capital improvements including trails, historic structures and facilities within the Parks. The Foundation endeavors to increase awareness of Denver's Mountain Parks and aid Denver Parks and Recreation in implementing both the 2008 Master Plan for the Mountain Parks and enabling the 1914 Fredrick Law Olmstead Plan which called for Denver to acquire land for parks mountain roads and the protection of scenic vistas to be fully realized.
The Denver Mountain Parks were established in 1912 when Denver citizens voted to fund the system and bought its first park, Genesee Mountain. 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.
Today Denver's Mountain Parks system comprises more than 14,000 acres of scenic "pleasure ground in the mountains" just west of Denver. Denver's 46 Mountain Parks and conservation areas are unique not only for their incredible range of scenery and activity, but because all of them are located just outside of the city, most less than an hour's drive away.
The Mountain Parks preserve examples of every life zone found in Colorado, from windswept prairie to alpine tundra high above timberline. The parks also preserve important historic sites, including 300 million-year-old geologic formations in Red Rocks and the final resting spot of Buffalo Bill Cody. Some parks have no access and were acquired solely to preserve wildlife, forests, scenic views, and watershed.
The major parks in the system were designated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and 1995 as a result of multiple-property submissions that ultimately included sixteen parks. Two of the highways originally built by Denver in 1912-1914, the Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive and the Lariat Trail Scenic Mountain Drive, were also included in that designation. These drives today are part of the Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway. The designated parks are listed at National Register of Historic Places listings in Jefferson County, Colorado.
In 2008, the Foundation and the Parks Department joined forces to create a Master Plan for the system, the first since the original Olmsted Plan. The Plan "examines the value of the Mountain Parks to the people of Denver; provides sustainable management strategies for the funding, marketing, and protection of the currently underfunded system; and proposes both large and small improvements for the next 5-20+ years, to take this system to a level of quality commensurate with its international status." For the plan, a new logo (above) was commissioned from artist Michael Schwab to help create an identity for the park system.
Since its inception, the Foundation has sought to highlight the historical and modern importance of the Mountain Parks for current and future generations.
The Denver Mountain Parks Foundation is a true champion of the Colorado amazing natural resource we call our "Denver Mountain Parks". Since their creation, they have supported the on-going efforts of every Denver City administration to improve and enhance our mountain parks. From the incredible parks like Summit Lake on Mount Evans, Lookout Mountain and Buffalo Bills Grave, the bison herds that lives at Daniels Park and Dedissee Park, and to the natural wonder we call Red Rocks, the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation has worked tirelessly to help Denver Parks and Recreation to maintain these natural wonders for today's visitors and future generations to come.
Scott Gilmore | Deputy Executive Director
Parks & Recreation | City and County of Denver
DMP Foundation has a way of bringing folks together to make good things happen. Our cooperative agreement with the City of Denver to revitalize the Morrison CCC Camp and the historic structures of Denver's remarkable mountain park system is due in no small part to the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation.
Townsend H. Anderson
CEO/ Executive Director
The DMPFs dedication in keeping the Mtn Parks memory alive shows in everything they do. Generous donations for interpretive signs, historic shelter restorations and sponsoring educational sessions for Denver kids are testaments of their passion for the parks - they are amazing!
Brad Eckert | Mountain Parks Planner
Parks and Recreation | City and County of Denver
"Because of the support we received from the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation, Big City Mountaineers was able to offer more first time camping experiences to under-resourced youth from Denver. Because of the population we serve we often have to provide transportation to our camp in Genesee. DMPF stepped up in a big way to allow us to offer transportation to more kids this summer. These kids would not have had the opportunity to sleep out under the stars had it not been for DMPF's support."
Bryan Martin - Executive Director, Big City Mountaineers