Formally established in August 1913, the city’s Mountain Parks system immediately began acquiring land in the mountains near Denver to be set aside for recreational use. Today it includes more than 14,000 acres, with 24 developed mountain parks and 22 unnamed wilderness areas that are wonderful places for hiking, picnicking, bird-watching, golfing, or lazing in the sun.

The first and largest, Genesee Park, is 20 miles west of Denver off I-70, exit 254; its 2,413 acres contain the Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground (the only overnight camping available in the system), picnic areas, a scenic overlook, and an elk-and-buffalo enclosure. Among the system’s other parks are Echo Lake, about 45 minutes from downtown Denver on Colo. 103. At 10,600 feet elevation on Mount Evans, the park has good fishing, hiking, and picnicking, plus a restaurant and curio shop; 1,000-acre Daniels Park (23 miles south of Denver; take I-25 to Castle Pines Parkway, and then go west to the park), which offers picnic areas, a bison enclosure, and a scenic overlook; and Dedisse Park (2 miles west of Evergreen on Colo. 74), which provides picnic facilities, a golf course, a restaurant, a clubhouse, and opportunities for ice-skating, fishing, and volleyball.