Denver Parks and Recreation is proposing the addition of the donated Axton Ranch to Denver’s Mountain Park System — the system’s first new mountain park in more than 80 years.
The 450-acre ranch in Jefferson and Gilpin counties was donated to Denver by the Axton family after four generations of operating the land as a cattle ranch since 1954.
"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.”
The ranch, less than an hour from Denver, is adjacent to the Roosevelt National Forest and near the Arapahoe National Forest, Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Jefferson County Open Space.
It will add to more than 14,000 acres of adjoining public lands in the area, with conifer and aspen stands, meadows, ponds, a small creek and a trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
If approved by the Denver City Council, Axton Ranch will be the first new mountain park in Denver’s system since Conifer’s James Q. Newton Park in 1939.
“It’s never been more important to grow our parks and acquire additional land for trails and open space,” said Parks and Recreation Executive Director Happy Haynes.
“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.”
Haynes said Parks and Recreation intends to designate the land as Axton Ranch Mountain Park after closing. This will protect the ranch from future development and real estate transactions unless Denver voters choose to designate it.
Officials will later work to plan the park’s long-term vision, including environmental education and programming opportunities for adults and children.
The donation also includes a “right of first offer” on 38 acres adjacent to the ranch owned by the Axton family, meaning the city will have the first opportunity to acquire the land if the family decides to sell.
The proposed donation agreement will be presented to the Denver City Council Finance and Governance Committee on Tuesday and considered by the full Council in March. In the meantime, Axton Ranch will remain private property.