15th and Little Raven Sts., Denver
HOURS: Daily 5 a.m.–11 p.m.
The broad and winding waters of the South Platte River have attracted dreamers since Denver’s earliest days. Over 100 years ago the area included a castle and an amusement park, among other delights. Many years later this broad expanse of land that sits roughly between LoDo’s Union Station to the east and the South Platte River to the west was lost to the ravages of time and nature, and the river started being used as a dumping ground for old cars, refrigerators, and other debris.
A severe flood along the river in 1965 in which lives, homes, and businesses were lost led to long-needed changes all along the South Platte. A dam was built upstream and it was no longer used as an illegal garbage dump. Still, it took decades for new dreams to take shape and remake the land into a play area once again.
The Commons Park people visit today was years in the making as various government agencies and private organizations acquired funding and made plans. In 2001 the city unveiled the ambitious 20-acre park along the east side of the South Platte River.
One portion of the park was designed to re-create how it would have looked before the settlers came, complete with native grasses, trees, and sand.
Atop a newly constructed hill—which has become popular for sledding and in warmer weather, flying kites—there is a sunken black granite east–west directional sculpture that can’t be seen from below. There are views of the Rocky Mountains and the city’s skyline from the hilltop.
Foot and bike paths along both sides of the park connect new bridges that lead to shopping and dining districts in historic neighborhoods.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition