A giant, picturesque ranch out in Jefferson and Gilpin counties will become Denver’s first new mountain park addition in 82 years.
The 450-acre Axton Ranch property will soon join 22 other mountain parks, which sit outside the city limits. Some feature bison and one even has something called a sub-alpine zone.
Denver City Council on Monday approved the donation to the city from the ranch’s owners, the Axton family, and $80,000 to pay for transaction costs.
Axton Ranch is located about 36 miles from downtown. It’s near Roosevelt National Forest, as well as other open public spaces.
The city plans to call it the Axton Ranch Mountain Park. City real estate project manager and asset manger for parks Luke McKay told us in February that the deal will likely be sealed by year’s end. McKay said the city still has to inspect the property.
The park has a conifer forest, meadows with wildflowers, and ponds, including one available for trout fishing. There’s quite a bit of wildlife, too, including some resident elk, deer, bears, moose and bobcats.
McKay said during a committee meeting last month the deal has been in the works for nearly two years. He called it a “once in a generation opportunity.” The donation agreement calls for maintaining the property as a park and open space, which means limiting activities there to recreational ones and keeping development to a minimum.
When the donation was announced last month, the Axton family said in a release they were excited to donate the “beautiful” ranch to Denver. In addition to the 450-acre donation, the deal approved Monday gives the city first dibs on a potential sale of a nearby 38-acre property the Axton family wants to keep for now.
The family has owned the property since 1954, formerly using it as a cattle ranch. The ranch has been owned by four generations of the family and includes a trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps providing access to two 10,000-plus foot peaks: Mount Thorodin and Starr Peak. Those trails will be maintained under the agreement approved Monday. McKay said last month that having multiple generations agreeing on the property’s future made it a unique opportunity.
“We feel they will steward and preserve it for future generations to love and enjoy as we have,” the Axton family said last month about Denver. “Congratulations, City of Denver, for your interest in preservation and your newest mountain park.”
The last mountain park added to Denver’s roster was the James Q. Newton Park in Conifer in 1939.