Visiting public gardens that showcase native plants is a great way to get ideas for your own yard, learn about natives and just enjoy their beauty! Listed below are sites with maintained native gardens and some also have wild areas. Please check with each site for open hours, information on entrance fees and special programs. (Please note that the list below is not exhaustive.)
We are also compiling a list of private homes with native landscaping for potential garden tours or chapter meetings. (This list will not appear on the website to preserve homeowner privacy.) If you would be willing to host a tour and share your experiences with other Wild Ones members, please contact us via email.
Adopt A Park
One of the best ways to gain an understanding of how natives can work in the landscape is through studying photographs. For each park listed here, we’d like to add photos that showcase its native garden in each season. Do you live near, or routinely travel by, any of these parks? Would you be willing to snap a few photos four times a year: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?
To Adopt a Park, please send us an email noting which park you’d like to photograph. All you have to do is send seasonal photos four times a year for one year. We’ll note your “adoption” on our website and credit you as the photographer for the photos we post. Thank you!
Centennial Flower Gardens
Next to Elitch Gardens Theme Park and the South Platte River (and directly south of Commons Park) The Centennial gardens are patterned after the formal Gardens of Versailles–only they use native plants, along with other plants that grow well in Colorado. Get Directions.
This Denver park is located on the banks of the South Platte River where the city was born. Close to 40 percent of the park is planted in native plants with a reconstructed “sand prairie” close to what would have existed in the area originally. Located just north of Speer Blvd and east of I-25. Get Directions.
Bluff Lake Nature Center
Located in the Stapleton Redevelopment Area. From I-70: Take the Havana exit going south. Turn left (south) at the light off of the exit ramp. Go through the four-way stop at Smith Road. Go through the light at Martin Luther King Boulevard. Turn left (east) at the next light onto 29th Drive. Go through the light at Iola Street and follow the road as it curves to the right. The entrance to Bluff Lake is a half a mile down the curvy road on the left (north) side of the road.
Denver Botanic Gardens – York Street
909 York St.
Visit the Dryland Mesa, Laura Smith Porter Plains, Ponderosa & Bristlecone Pine Borders, Wildflower Treasures and Western Panoramas gardens to see Colorado native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and perennials. Get directions.
Hentzel Park and Babi Yar Park
Yale Ave. and Havana St. in southwest Denver
These memorial parks were recently redesigned and include a restored native prairie area as well as areas planted in natives. You’ll find at least 72 species of native wildflowers and grasses. Get directions.
Buchtel Blvd. and S. St. Paul St.
Located in the University Park Neighborhood. This is a park in progress so visit often to see an actual prairie restoration in the city. When completed, this 14-acre park have a native plant educational walk. Get directions.
5201 Brighton Blvd.
Founded in 1876, Riverside is Denver’s oldest operating cemetery and is designated as a national historic district. It is located just two miles north of downtown in the center of an industrial area. In 2001, the cemetery lost its water rights to the nearby South Platte River and the grounds are slowly returning to native vegetation. A tour here is as much a history tour as a plant tour. Many of Colorado’s and Denver’s early pioneers and leaders are buried here. Get directions.
Lookout Mountain Nature Center
910 Colorow Road; Golden, CO 80401; 720-497-7600
From Denver, go west on I-70, exit 256 and turn right. Eastbound, use exit 254 and turn left. Then follow the brown highway signs. Managed by Jefferson County Open Space.
The Gardens at Kendrick Lake Park
What was once a weedy patch of struggling Kentucky bluegrass has been transformed into a beautiful, water-thrifty landscape featuring many Colorado and regionally native trees, shrubs and perennials. Information and directions.
Audubon Center at Chatfield
Located at the southwest corner of Chatfield State Park (From C470 & Wadsworth, go 4.4 miles south to Waterton Rd. & turn left and make another left into the very first parking lot.) Managed by Audubon Society of Greater Denver.
Carson Nature Center at South Platte Park
3000 W. Carson Drive; Littleton, CO 80120-2968; 303-730-1022
Managed by South Suburban Parks & Recreation District. Look for the native garden next to the Carson Nature Center, then enjoy a walk along the South Platte River to see plenty of other natives. From the intersection of Santa Fe (Hwy 85) & Mineral Ave, go west on Mineral to Platte Canyon Rd and turn right (north). After you drive through the RTD parking lots, turn left onto Carson Dr.
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms
In addition to being an operational farm, the DBG Chatfield site features several native gardens featuring both dryland and riparian species. Admission information and directions.