Despite Many Attempts to Disappear, Jeff Park Is Still Here
Close to the oldest neighborhood on the uplands side of Denver, Jefferson Park has gotten lost in the LoHi, LoDo noise of its nearby neighborhoods in Highland. But the last decade has turned this neighborhood of mostly renters to a neighborhood highly sought after, and it’s having the last laugh.
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The Jefferson Park Neighborhood squeezes itself among the boundaries of Speer Blvd to the north, Federal Blvd to the west, the Mile High Stadium to the south, and the Platte River to the east.
A Giant Park and Close to Downtown
Jefferson Park has big neighbors–Mile High Stadium, the Children’s Museum, the soon-to-be-built Meow Wolf, and the Denver Aquarium. Elitch is across the Platte (although Elitch Gardens is part of Auraria Neighborhood but is scheduled to move again), and next door in Highland are plenty of places to eat.
Sitting in the Jefferson Park Neighborhood, which through a series of annexations and maneuvering within the Highland neighborhoods, could be considered Denver’s first suburban park. Debatable, and one that many Highlanders will arm wrestle you over, Jefferson Park has always needed love and attention from its neighbor.
At one time, when the area had become undesirable and homes feel into disrepair, developers had many ideas and plans for the park, including turning it into an amphitheater. But the neighbors the fight have won every time, protecting their park and defending it from development.
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Now it’s a wonderful neighborhood park sitting in the middle of Jefferson Park and overlooking the valley, Mile High Stadium, and downtown. Even the two areas of playgrounds are painted in Bronco blue and orange, connecting the park to its biggest neighbor. Like most neighborhood parks, you’ll find open fields, picnic tables, and a covered picnic area.
Diamonds and Rubber
Other parks in the neighborhood include the very interesting, but easy to overlook, Diamond Hill and the playful Gates Crescent. Diamond Hill Park gives a great view right into downtown across I25. In the red, adobe tiles in the large monuments to Speer Blvd, you can see a recreation of Denver’s street grid in relation to the Platte River, illustrating how the two grid systems come together on the diagonal, making a series of diamonds.
Gates Crescent, the gateway to All Things Kids, this park on the western bank of the Platte River could be torture for you and your kids! Sitting next to the vibrant and energetic Children’s Museum and across from Elitch Gardens’ roller coasters, kids will beg you to leave the park and go enjoy these bigger venues. Or, you could stay in the park, run up and down the undulating grassy hills, watch the trains go by or play a game of volleyball in the sand courts. Why Gates? It was named after the family who founded Gates Rubber Company, which used to operate nearby.
Old, New, In Between
Like many of the neighborhoods that touch downtown Denver, Jefferson Park hasn’t escaped the scrape and replace development that good locations perpetuate. Many old homes still stand, and most homes are modest, multi-family, or high density. Different than Highland, there are few large homes here. You’ll fine traditional Denver cottages, maybe a Denver Square or two, and lots of single-story bungalows.
A landmark in the neighborhood is the Turntable apartments. Built as a Holiday Inn, it now homes 192 renters. If you’re lucky, you can get a sneak peak inside the turntable-influenced lobby and the long-live-the-LP studio apartment. With great views and quirky throwbacks to the 70s, the apartment building still holds its iconic status. The rooms, hardly bigger than 300 square feet, scream throw back while tossing forward to Tiny Home ideals.
Higher Ed Too!
Although I25 runs near the eastern edge of the neighorhood, pedestrians can quickly access downtown via 26th or 22nd, and they can also walk to Broncos games. You’ll even find an extension of the Higher Ed Auraria campuses here in Jefferson Park.
Here’s a 3.8-mile route through this transitioning neighborhood that also homes a Community College of Denver campus.
The route (click for interactive map):
Start in Jefferson Park, where the closest address is 2723 W 23rd Ave. Walk west to Eliot St, take a right. Continue to W 28th Ave, take a right. Take a right on Clay St.
Take a left on W 25th Ave then a right on Bryant. Take a left on W 23rd Ave.
Cross I25. At the Aquarium, cross 23rd to your right and go behind the Aquarium to the Platte River Trail. You’ll see Elitch Gardens across the river. Turn south or right on the trail.
Continue along the Platte River Trail, veering to right to go through the parking lot at Crescent Park and along the unnamed road that leads southwesterly under I25. You’ll come out at Mile High Stadium Circle. Turn northerly along the Circle, skimming the Stadium.
You’ll pass the Turntable apartments on your left. They’re friendly; go in and say hi and ask if you can see the model. When finished, continue north and take a left on Mile High Stadium Circle at Bryant.
Take a right on Decatur St. Go up through Jefferson Park, returning back to your start.
Finding Jefferson Parkand Supporting DenverByFoot
If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family, or even along during our lock down.
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See you on the trail!