Jeffco Open Space parks are an ideal setting for a wide range of recreation. Check out tips and tricks for the type of recreation you are interested in and ‘know before you go’.
Jeffco Open Space activities are regulated as part of Jefferson County Policies, 6.4.1. Familiarize yourself with our regulations. Responsible use promotes safe, enjoyable park experiences and preserves natural resources for all visitors.
Remember to share the trail, walk through mud - not around it, and leave one earbud out if listening to music. Stay alert and be sure you can hear a bike bell ring, or a rattlesnake rattle.
Mount Galbraith Park stands alone in the Jeffco Open Space system as hiker-only in its entirety. At Centennial Cone Park, open from February to November, the alternating use calendar is enforced on WEEKENDS. Hikers are permitted on odd-numbered dates, bikers on even-numbered dates. On WEEKDAYS, the trails are shared-use.
Dogs are welcome in all of the Jeffco Open Space parks, with the exception of the Lookout Mountain Nature Center Preserve. Dogs must be leashed and under control at all times. Immediately pick up dog waste, pack it out of the park and dispose of it in a trash can. Dog waste left on the ground pollutes groundwater and poses health risks to human and pets alike.
Jeffco Open Space provides a rich environment for birds and plenty of opportunities for bird watching. Crown Hill Park is especially popular as it also hosts a wildlife sanctuary that is important for nesting each year. Crown Hill Park Bird Watching Guide and Checklist.
Clear Creek Canyon, North Table Mountain, and Cathedral Spires Parks offer a variety of rock climbing crags. New proposed routes must go before the Fixed Hardware Review Committee. Visit the Climbing website for more information.
Hunting is allowed during a seasonal closure at Centennial Cone Park, and by permit only. The late season hunting access occurs December 1 through January 31 of each year. The Park is closed to all other use during this season. Permit applicants must hold a valid late season antlerless elk, female or either sex deer license issued by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the Jefferson County portion of Game Management Unit 38. Private Land Only licenses are not valid at Centennial Cone Park. Colorado Parks and Wildlife provides a list of eligible hunters for this area to Jeffco Open Space. Jeffco Open Space will then notify these eligible hunters about applying for a Centennial Cone Park hunting access permit. Permits are not available to hunters that have not qualified through the appropriate licensing process.
Once a hunter has been notified of their eligibility, access applications are generally due to Jeffco Open Space in September. Access permits are limited to 55 elk and 35 deer license holders. Hunters are allowed to enter the property during the time frame specified on the access permit.
Before gaining access to Centennial Cone Park, permit holders are required to complete Jeffco Open Space hunting orientation, which is held in early November. Hunter orientation is accessible through a video link which can be viewed remotely. Viewing of this video is mandatory for first-time, permitted hunters that have not completed the orientation in previous years.
Why Allow Hunting?
Elk populations are not being held in check by natural predators, which include black bears and mountain lions. Unchecked, populations could double in four to five years. Over-browsing by elk decreases plant density and diversity that provide food and cover for other wildlife (small mammals and birds). Other management tools (trapping, fertility inhibitors) are not feasible, not acceptable by the public or have limited effect.
Jeffco Open Space offers multi-use trails ranging in difficulty and technical ability. Sharing the trail is every visitor's responsibility; however, mountain bikers should remember that when encountering other trail visitors, certain trail courtesy is expected:
- Equestrians always have the right-of-way unless they yield. Hikers may also choose to yield.
- Use a friendly greeting or bell to get the attention of other trail visitors so you do not surprise them
- Signal equestrians starting from at least 50 feet away. Horses respond to fast-moving objects as a threat.
- Mountain bikers traveling downhill should yield to uphill mountain bike traffic
- Slow to a safe speed when passing other trail visitors
- Ride dirt, not mud. Ride concrete or crushed gravel trails in muddy conditions.
With miles of paved bikeways that link to trails throughout the Denver metropolitan area—along with several parks featuring smooth, paved trails—there are opportunities for most every cyclist. Clear Creek Canyon Park has the only 10-foot-wide paved surface trail in our system, the Peaks to Plains Trail. And both Crown Hill and Van Bibber Parks have paved surface trails. View the Regional Trail Connections in Jefferson County
Clear Creek Canyon Park has the only 10-foot-wide paved surface trail in our system, the Peaks to Plains Trail. Additionally, the Big Easy Trailhead in Clear Creek Canyon Park is ADA accessible with fishing piers and picnic areas by the creek. Both Crown Hill and Van Bibber Parks have paved surface trails.
Pine Valley Ranch Park and Crown Hill Park have lakes that are open for fishing. Additionally, parks like Clear Creek Canyon Park and Lair o’ the Bear Park offer rivers for fishing. Visitors must comply with the fishing regulations.
Recreational gold prospecting is allowed in Clear Creek only (within Clear Creek Canyon Park), see posted signs for permissible areas along creek. Prospecting activities are prohibited in all other Jeffco Open Space parks.
- Digging into or destruction of stable shoreline, banks or existing vegetation is not permitted. Prospecting activities are permitted within the normal, disturbed stream channel. Keeping one foot in the water is a step in the right direction.
- All prospecting holes must be filled in before leaving site
- Dredges and equipment may not be left overnight
- No prospecting within 100 feet of structures including bridges, steps and fish habitat improvements
- Only dredges with a nozzle diameter of four inches or fewer are permitted
- No dripping or leaking of fuel or oil allowed
Prospectors must adhere to all prospecting and park regulations.
Kayaking and Water Activities
Rafting on rivers in Jeffco Open Space is subject to any restrictions that are placed by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office or local police departments. Stay informed as to any current restrictions.
Some construction activity on the Clear Creek Segment of the Peaks to Plains Trail will occasionally affect put-in and take-out points in Clear Creek. Stay up to date with the Peaks to Plains Trail blog.
Whitewater rafting trips can vary in difficulty. Sections vary from perfect-for-families and first timers, to extreme whitewater for the seasoned veteran. See the Clear Creek County website for more information.
All of our parks, except the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve and Mount Galbraith Park, are open to horses and pack animals. Equestrian-friendly campsites are located within White Ranch and Reynolds parks.
It is recommended to arrive at parks early in order to secure the first-come, first-serve parking for oversized vehicles.
Equestrians also participate as volunteer Park Patrollers to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for all park visitors.
Hang Gliding and Paragliding
A launch site for hang-gliders and paragliders is located on Windy Saddle Park. Pilots access the launch site from Lookout Mountain Road. Memberships are required to use this launch site. Anyone interested in participating in these activities will need to contact the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (USHPA) and Rocky Mountain Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (RMHPA).
Download the Share the Skies guide and know which areas are closed during raptor nesting season, February 1-July 31.
Jeffco Open Space offers semi-primitive, tent-only camping by permit at White Ranch Park (northwest of Golden) and Reynolds Park (southeast of Conifer). Camping in these two parks is semi-primitive—no vehicles, trailers or RVs. Camping permits must be obtained at the Jeffco Open Space office.