‘The prettiest city in the West’

‘Discovering Denver’s Parks’ serves as a guide to the city’s great parks


According to Denver-based author Chris Englert, one of the greatest things about Denver’s park system is that it all started with a vision to make Denver the “prettiest city in the West.”

Before Denver had such great parks, Englert said, most of the townsfolks’ socializing took place in bars or saloons. Even children were permitted at such gatherings, she added.

But Robert Walter Speer, who served as Denver’s mayor from 1904-1912 -- he was reelected in 1916 but only served two years of that term, dying after becoming ill during the 1918 Spanish influenza -- through his travels to Europe and U.S. cities such as Chicago, saw how beautiful cities could be when they had parks. He started to ask people to donate land, and eventually, Denver’s parks system was developed, Englert said.

“Most people know of their neighborhood park,” the destination parks such as Washington Park and Cheesman Park and the mountain parks like Red Rocks, Englert said.

But her hope is that through her latest book, “Discovering Denver Parks: A Local’s Guide,” which came out in April, people will “branch out and discover other nearby parks,” Englert said.

Englert moved to Denver in 2013 and wanted to learn more about the city by walking all of Denver’s 78 neighborhoods. She put a post on a meet-up website and nine women decided to join her on the venture. When looking into places to meet, Englert discovered that the majority of Denver’s neighborhoods have a beloved neighborhood park. So, going alphabetically, from Athmar Park to Windsor, Englert eventually made her way around the entire city.

“Discovering Denver Parks” consists of detailed descriptions of 165 of Denver’s urban-and-mountain parks, organized regionally. Some of the history of each park is included in the descriptions, as well as information on which parks are dog-friendly, what amenities each park has, how to get there by public transportation or driving, where to park and much more.

Denver has more than 300 parks in its system, Englert said. She narrowed the selection down to 165 by focusing on regional parks, parks that are connected by trails and the parks that have particularly interesting stories, Englert said.

Englert still visits Denver’s parks on a daily basis, she said. A person can learn so much about Denver and its history by visiting the parks, Englert added.

“You get an experiential perspective that you can only get by visiting a park,” Englert said. “Parks let you discover Denver in an organic way that you can only do by getting out of your car and into a park.”


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