100 Years of the Magnificent Dream


Denver Mountain Parks: 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream presents for the first time in a single volume an authoritative history of the mountain parks from their beginnings to the present day, plus a guide to visiting the parks. With a foreword by Thomas J. Noel, a letter of support from Mayor Michael Hancock, 72 new John Fielder photographs, and 26 Then-and-Now images of Red Rocks, Lookout Mountain, Genesee, Daniels Parks, and more.

As of May 2019, we’ve officially sold-out of our book. Look to your local library for a copy to read!

From the Introduction:

Part 1: Developing the Mountain Parks, 1910–1940, begins with the early history of the park system. In the years around 1910, men such as John Brisben Walker, Kingsley A. Pence, and Warwick Downing worked to rally public support for municipal parks in the nearby mountains. After passage of the Mountain Parks Charter Amendment in the city election of May 1912, Denver commissioned a comprehensive development plan from the nation’s top landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The story continues through three decades of dynamic development as parklands were acquired, roads built, lodges and amenities constructed. By 1940, the Denver Mountain Park system was largely complete, from the historic Lariat Trail, built in 1913, through the last mountain park the city would develop, the Winter Park ski area.

Hancock bisonPart 2: Defending the Mountain Parks, 1941–2012
, continues the story through the development of the new master plan, outlines the struggles to maintain the far-flung parks in the face of dwindling budgets, and highlights the triumphs of these later decades. In 1955, the discontinuation of dedicated funding for the parks marked the beginning of decades of financial challenges. Yet, in spite of budget difficulties, World War II, and other challenges, the parks continue as a prized resource for Colorado and beyond.

mapicon2Part 3: Discovering the Mountain Parks presents up-to-date, detailed information on the 22 developed parks so both first-time and regular visitors can make the most of their visit. Park locations, hours, and amenities such as hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, historic sites, camping information, and more are explained in an easy-to-use format. A map accompanying this text appears inside the front cover.

suniconPart 4: The Future of the Mountain Parks considers what the parks will need to thrive in their next one hundred years. The same visionary leadership that inspired them will be necessary to maintain, develop, and improve the parks in the 21st century. Important questions about funding sources and management will need to be addressed. Denver’s mountain parks need our advocacy and renewed commitment to remain the irreplaceable resource they are today.

2014 Colorado Book Award in History:

We won! In case you missed it, on June 13th, 2014, we were awarded the Colorado Book Award for Denver Mountain Parks: 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream. Authors Wendy Rex-Atzet and Erika Walker traveled to Aspen with high hopes, and indeed, the trip proved to be a huge moment for the book, and for all of us involved in it.

RexAtzet Walker
Erika Walker, left, and Wendy Rex-Atzet accepted our award at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen June 13th.

With the award behind us, it suddenly feels as if we’re wrapping things up and I feel a little wistful. It has been an honor to work [on this project]… Producing our book has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, one I will always treasure.
—Erika Walker, co-author

We did have a marvelous team, and the product reflects everyone’s expert contributions! Couldn’t have done it without John Fielder and the production team he arranged, editor Jenna Brown and designer Rebecca Finkel, who made a huge difference in the result. Thank you to everyone for being part of the “magnificent” project.

2014 Colorado Book Awards went to writers in 16 categories!

Fun along the way:

sm book team launch0263
At the Denver Public Library, from left: Erika Walker, editor Jenna Browning, John Fielder, Bart Berger, Sally White, and Wendy Rex-Atzet.
Signing 300 books takes time: from left, Sally White, Bart Berger, Wendy Rex-Atzet, Erika Walker.
John Fielder making comparison shots at Red Rocks with historic reference.
On display at Costco, feel free to buy in bulk!
Fielder at Bergen Peak.

More posts about the book here.

5 thoughts on “100 Years of the Magnificent Dream

    1. Good questions, Diane! Thank you… I will have to put up a page with these specs, but for the moment, here’s an answer: The book measures roughly 10 x 11 inches, so is coffee-table format, 144 pages. Every spread has color photos, historic photos, or postcards. I’ll email you directly, but depending on where you’re located, the book is available at Tattered Cover (Denver), Costco, Hearthfire Books (Bergen Park), Hiwan Homestead Museum (Evergreen), Red Rocks Trading Post (near Morrison), Amazon, and many more. I’ll get a new page about the book up very soon. We’re confident you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for asking!!