Get to Know Your Greenway
Gates Crescent Park
By: J.J. Clark
SPREE Staff Writer
Other Get to Know Your Greenway Articles on left
Spring hit Denver and so did the outdoor bug! The South Platte River trail is beyond busy with runners, sunbathers, bikers, joggers, and swimmers alike. With so much sun and so many miles of trail, it is hard to know where to go first. If you are looking for a bit of space to lie down, have a picnic, and relax away from the summer hordes, then Gates Crescent Park is the place to be.
Gates Crescent Park in downtown Denver is home to the Children's Museum of Denver and is about a block upstream of the Downtown Aquarium. It is just a short walk upstream of Confluence Park and sits between I-25 and the South Platte River.
This park offers two kinds of adventure in the city. On the northern tip, the Children's Museum gives the park an architectural focus and function. The playground for the museum is bound to be busy on a warm day. The building is made of primary colored triangles and squares and is both playful and interesting to see. While the museum offers refuge from the sun and many great places for kids to play, the south end of the park offers an equally impressive but functionally opposite architectural focus.
The southern tip of the park is shaped and shadowed by the immense I-25 viaduct as it passes over the South Platte River Valley. The green metal arched bridge is unmistakably Denver, and a constant rumble of traffic hums over the few sunbathers and picnic goers who have ventured this far from the confluence epicenter.
Between the museum and the bridge is a mixture of natively planted hills with a few evergreens and flattened prairie grasses hungry for spring. On the top of the hill the sound of the highway multiplies as you pass through the line of trees planted to block the noise from the park. There is a lonely platform with three large rocks that offers a view of Mile High Stadium over the highway to the west, and Elitch Gardens across the river to the southeast. At the bottom of the hill is a large field planted with Kentucky Bluegrass. On a spring day when Confluence Park sees hundreds of visitors, this field, which doubles at least the confluence open space, has only one spring visitor. A sand pit set up for beach volleyball hides in a circle of trees on the southern edge just before the bridge.
The train tracks that go right through the park hold the Platte Valley Trolley. This trolley shuttles Bronco fans to and from the stadium as well as families who want to see Denver from the rails. River access is limited to steep and entangled banks, and the open space of the park is exposed with only a few areas that enjoy shade from the trees. After you pass under the I-25 overpass heading upstream, Mile High Stadium stands before you and the manicured landscaping acts as the gateway to Denver’s professional sports. Standing in front of the stadium it is hard to understand that just on the other side of the interstate overpass is a large quiet open space.
In the summer Gates Crescent Park sees trolley shuttles, crowds of sports fans, bikers and joggers pass through daily. Across the river the screams of roller coaster passengers competes with the consistent hiss of the highway, and at the northern edge the museum engages the children of Denver. Go to Gates Crescent Park and see how Elitch’s and Denver’s skyline meet, hear how the thrill seekers on the roller coasters and the interstate commuters move, and enjoy one of the many sunny days in Denver.