An Urban Hunt for Denver’s First Red Rocks on Ruby Hill
With a gold rush upon Denver, early claimers eagerly mined for whatever they could find. Whether it was gold on Cherry Creek or rubies on Ruby Hill, the early adventurers scrambled to find the first evidence of buried wealth. On Ruby Hill, what folks actually thought were rubies turned into garnets. None the less, Ruby Hill was born.
By the way, rubies are far more valuable than garnets. They are harder and considered to be true gemstones. Rubies could have blue and purple tones whereas garnets can be orange toned. Garnets are made of silicate materials. The price difference between the two? Rubies range fro $5000-$15000 per carat, while garnets cash in at $400 to $3000 a carat.
Fast Grows Ruby Hill
Yet after its red rocks appeared, Ruby Hill disappeared from favor. Denver’s Red Rock Theater became the new “Red Rocks.” Becoming the city dump and then a forgotten area of Denver, Ruby Hill hid in the shadows of faster growth elsewhere in the city. With a spectacular view of downtown, sitting on the banks of the Platte River, it’s a surprise that the neighborhood didn’t find itself until the 1940s. Then, World War II housing spread as fast as it could up and down the hill. Small, single family home sprouted.
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Single soldiers returned with wives or looking for them, and quickly the neighborhood grew for working families. It waxed and waned with Denver’s boom and bust cycle. Now, many varieties of restaurants dot the borders of the neighborhood, which stretches from West Mississippi Avenue to the north, the South Platte River to the East, West Jewell Avenue to the south and South Federal Boulevard to the west. People looking for a good house with a good price, such as first-time home buyers, are flocking to Ruby Hill to create their own precious keepsakes.
A Gulch and a Railyard
Now, Ruby Hill is a mecca for anyone who loves the outdoors. With the wonderful Sanderson Gulch and its trail running through it, Ruby Hill is a winter wonderland of outdoor activities on the hill where sledders dash downwards and snowboarders famously try out their newest tricks in the Railyard. This amazing and free outdoor trick center for snowy adventurists allows anyone to try out their latest moves. Volunteers set up the Railyard usually in January with snow donated by Winter Park. They maintain it through March, and if there’s a cold April, it might stay open that long. Anyone can use it Be sure to stop through the Railyard in the middle of winter to really enjoy either free entertain, free exercise, or both! The Railyard is on only free outdoor snow park in the country, similar to the other amazing free outdoor park in Denver, Denver’s Skatepark–a rockstar year round.
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Get your Tunes Here in Ruby Hill
Ruby Hill also plays hosts to the Levitt Center, home of 50+ free concerts a year. The Levitt Center opened with a goal to provide as many free or low-cost concerts as possible, adding to Denver’s incredible music scene. In the summer, you’ll find families picnicking on laid-out blankets, sipping wine and juice, listening to local and national artists play their beats.
Playgrounds and Bike Tracks Too!
Walking through Ruby Hill is great for all ages. Several playgrounds entertain littles to bigs, and artwork on the top of the hill attracts aficionados. The view of downtown Denver, itself, should bring anyone out. In addition, there’s a pump track for competitive cyclists to attempt, while a larger bike loop wraps the park.
Sanderson Gulch offers a diagonal path through the neighborhood along a small stream. When you walk the route below, you’ll see all of Ruby Park’s features, depending on which season you want to enjoy it. Why not walk all four?
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The Route (click for interactive map):
Start near 1523 W Arkansas Ave. The Sanderson Gulch goes under Arkansas and you’ll see a ramp down to it. Take the ramp to the north, windy northeasterly along Sanderson Gulch.
The trail will take you to Lipan, where you’ll walk south along the sidewalk and then cross W Florida Ave into Ruby Hill Park. You’ll be walking on the road, taking it up to the snack pavilion.
Continue on the trail up the hill to the overlook pavilion and enjoy amazing 360 degree views of downtown Denver to the east. After you’ve finished viewing Denver, take the trail past the Railyard (if it’s up in the winter) and around the hill, taking you to the west side of Ruby Hill.
Exit Ruby Hill Park onto W Mexico St, walking along the sidewalk to S Decatur St.
Turn right on Decatur, and this will dead end at Sanderson Gulch. Jump back on the Gulch, taking it to the right. At Arkansas Ave, exit the Gulch to your beginning spot.
Hunting for Rubies and Supporting Denver By Foot
If you’ve enjoyed this information, 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.
Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!
See you on the trail!