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Denver to add new mountain park for first time in 80 years

The 450-acre Axton Ranch, located in Gilpin and Jefferson counties, is set to become the newest Denver Mountain Park.

DENVER — Axton Ranch, a property in Gilpin and Jefferson counties, is set to become the first new Denver Mountain Park acquired in more than 80 years, according to Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR).

“It’s never been more important to grow our parks and acquire additional land for trails and open space,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Parks and Recreation. “This property will be managed primarily as a conservation area focused on sustainability and will also expand mountain park access for Denver residents and visitors.”

The 450-acre parcel of land is less than an hour drive from Denver and is adjacent to Roosevelt National Forest and near Arapaho National Forest, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and Jefferson County Open Space. The acquisition will join over 14,000 acres of contiguous public lands.

With mixed conifer and aspen stands, meadows, ponds, a small creek and a historic trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps providing access to nearby Mount Thorodin and Starr Peak, Axton Ranch is well situated to be the first new Mountain Park in Denver’s system since the donation of James Q. Newton Park in Conifer in 1939.

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The donation from the Axton family to the City and County of Denver for its Mountain Park System is subject to approval from the City Council.

The property was historically operated as a small cattle ranch and has been in the Axton family since 1954, spanning four generations. The donation includes a Right of First Offer on an adjacent 38-acres that the Axton family is retaining. The Right of First Offer provides the city with the first opportunity to acquire the 38-acres if the family decides to sell it.

Credit: Denver Parks and Recreation

"We are excited to donate this beautiful ranch to Denver Mountain Parks,” said the Axton family. “We feel they will steward and preserve it for future generations to love and enjoy as we have. Congratulations City of Denver for your interest in preservation and your newest mountain park.”

DPR intends to designate the property as Axton Ranch Mountain Park soon after closing. The designation process will ensure that the new park is protected from future development and real estate transactions. Once a park has been designated, it can only be used for park purposes and that cannot be changed without approval by Denver’s voters.

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A future master plan effort will be conducted to help determine the long-term vision for Axton Ranch Mountain Park to include environmental education and programming opportunities for adults and children to experience and connect to nature. In addition to passive recreational programming, DPR management will focus on forest health, wildlife habitat conservation, wildfire mitigation and watershed stewardship.  

The proposed donation agreement is expected to be presented to the City Council Finance & Governance Committee on Feb. 16 and considered by City Council next month.

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