A road improvement project decades in the making – Daniels Park
Daniels Park and Daniels Park Road will be on the receiving end of some much-needed TLC in the upcoming months. The graphic shows the new meandering road, parking and trail layouts, as well as the new viewing areas.
By Kathy Fallert; illustration provided by Douglas County
Douglas County and the City and County of Denver hosted a joint open house in May to discuss future plans for Daniels Park and Daniels Park Road.
Initial conversations began back in 1997 regarding roadway and access improvements to Daniels Park. The park, located at the western edge of the City of Castle Pines, offers extraordinary views, bison sightings, and a significant amount of history. The 1,000-acre ranch contains historic buildings, a distinctive stone shelter and the Tall Bull Memorial Grounds, which is a gathering place for the Native American community.
Daniels Park was donated to the City and County of Denver by Florence Martin in two separate donations; the first parcel in the 1920s and the second in 1937. Daniels Park has been owned and operated by the City and County of Denver as part of the Denver Mountain Park System for the past 80 years.
Daniels Park Road has a history of its own. The road is a portion of a route that connected Denver to Colorado Springs prior to 1887. It was formally platted as a territorial road in 1887 and has been defined as a state road, a county road and has taken on several different names since the late 1880s. In 1901, Daniels Park Road was declared a public highway; it is now owned by the City and County of Denver, and Daniels Park Road is a Douglas County roadway.
In 2003, preliminary road improvements and the idea of a Daniels Park master plan were agreed upon, ensuring that any road improvements would complement the entire area to include not only Daniels Park, but also the neighboring Sanctuary Golf Course, Cherokee Ranch & Castle, the Highlands Ranch Backcountry Wilderness Area, the City of Castle Pines, as well as Castle Pines Village.
The master planning process began in 2005 with a task force group that included the neighbors mentioned above along with the City and County of Denver, Douglas County staff, the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation, and several other entities.
In 2007, formal presentations and discussions led to the Daniels Park Master Plan prepared by DHM Design under the supervision of Denver and Douglas counties. The year-and-a-half process for the intergovernmental agreement spelled out details about construction and operational responsibility, design details, and construction timing. This cooperative effort was accepted and signed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and the Board of Douglas County Commissioners in February 2008.
Construction plans for the first phase were started in March 2008, and construction began in June of that year. Completion of Phase 1 roadway enhancements occurred in the spring of 2009 with the new trailhead and trail connection to the Daniels Park pavilion taking place in the spring of 2014.
Phase 2 for the improvements was approved in February 2015, which included a gateway monument, a paved, meandering roadway with raised islands, additional parking lots, bison-viewing areas and an improved trail system. These improvements were intended to enhance the experience of Daniels Park and to improve the interface between park patrons and the traveling public. Phase 2A, the construction of the new parking lot at the existing park pavilion, took place in the fall of 2015, with additional improvements to the parking lot and fencing being completed in late 2016. The remainder of the Phase 2 improvements will take place over the next several years. The City and County of Denver will assign a park ranger during daytime hours to oversee security at Daniels Park.
City of Castle Pines Mayor Jeffrey Huff remarked, “The improvements will make visitors’ experiences at Daniels Park more enjoyable. Castle Pines residents will be able to enjoy improved recreational amenities and trail access at the park. The new road design will lower speeds, improve safety and be more aesthetically pleasing.”
While many view the plans as progress, not all were pleased with the “improvements” to Daniels Park Road. Some citizens expressed concern regarding increased traffic, vehicle lights and potential speed in the area. The City of Castle Pines is working with Douglas County and Denver Mountain Parks to bring the open house presentation to the city; as of press time, no meeting date had been determined. In the meantime, learn more about the improvements to Daniels Park and Daniels Park Road at www.douglas.co.us/dcoutdoors/parks/daniels-park/.
“I am lucky to work for Douglas County and to be able to work on projects like this,” said Sean Owens, project manager for Douglas County. “When I take in the views from up there, I am in awe! I’m so glad to see this project moving forward. The improvements are going to be fantastic!”