Though originally built in the downtown City Park, Denver Botanic Gardens have expanded and are now located at three sites: the central York Street garden, a farm along the banks of Deer Creek at Chatfield in southern Jefferson County, and the Mount Goliath nature reserve on Mount Evans, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from downtown Denver.
The York Street site provides the perfect opportunity to get out of the city without having to travel anywhere. Stroll through a diverse array of natural gardens and modern landscapes. There are 42 individual gardens in all, including the Japanese Garden, the South African Plaza and the Woodland Mosaic. There are indoor gardens for the colder months and two cafés: Offshoots at the Gardens, open year round, and The Hive Garden Bistro, open during spring and summer.
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is a working farm, about a 30-minute drive from central Denver. You’ll find 2.5 miles (four kilometers) of beautiful trails for walking and bird watching. Visit the historic Hildebrand Ranch, with its restored dairy barn and silo, and the 1874 Deer Creek Schoolhouse. A children’s play area with a tree house and small climbing wall will keep the young ones busy while you sit back and enjoy the surroundings.
For a half-day adventure, drive 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Denver to the alpine trail at Mount Goliath. Flora enthusiasts and novices alike will marvel at plants only found for 40 days a year, during summer, including alpine forget-me-nots, chiming bells, moss campion and fairy primrose. Take in the incredible vistas from within the Arapaho National Forest. If you are visiting between June and August, join an organized wildflower hike led by knowledgeable volunteer guides. Check the official website for details.
Each of the locations has a small entry fee, which includes parking. There are classes and events offered at the Chatfield and York Street gardens, for children and adults.