Daniels Park, located 21 miles south of Denver in Douglas County, Colo., is part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. Other parks within the Denver Mountain Parks system include Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colo., and Red Rocks Park in Morrison, Colo. Daniels Park features more than 1,000 acres of open space, 800 acres of which is a natural preserve for herds of bison.
Land for the park used to be a historic ranch, and the parcels were donated to the City & County of Denver by Florence Martin in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, the park features a picnic shelter with dramatic views of the mountains and a neighboring golf course. The picnic area, which faces west, also offers a perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Road bikers can also enjoy a scenic ride through the park on a paved and winding road. Hikers can travel on unpaved trails ranging from .2 miles to 5.4 miles. Dogs are allowed in Daniels Park, as long as they are leashed.
History of Daniels Park
Daniels Park features elevations ranging from 6,240 to 6,582 feet above sea level, one of the lowest elevations for parks in the Denver Mountain Parks system. The picnic area is located on Riley Hill, which was rumored to be lookout for robbers plotting to rob stagecoaches in the days of the Wild West.
The infamous Kit Carson cooked one of his last meals on Riley Hill before he died in the area in 1868. A monument to the outlaw was erected more than 50 years later in 1923 by the Territorial Daughters of Colorado, an organization similar to the Daughters of the American Revolution on the East Coast.
Florence Martin, who donated the land for Daniels Park, was a family friend of the park's namesake of Maj. William Cook Daniels. Daniels served as a partner in the Daniels & Fisher department stores, a vestige of which can be seen in the D & F Clocktower on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.
From Denver, take I-25 south and exit on Exit 188 for Castle Pines Parkway. Take the parkway west until it intersects with Daniels Park Road. Head north on Daniels Park Road until the entrance for the park appears.
It is near the Castle Pines subdivision in Douglas County, Colo. Admission to the park is free.
Nina Snyder is the author of "Good Day, Broncos," a children's e-book, and "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book. Visit her website at ninasnyder.com.