Tucked away east of Capitol Hill, Cheesman is the perfect peaceful retreat in urban Denver. The eighty-acre park is centered around a beautiful grassy lawn and overlooked by the neoclassic marble Cheesman Memorial.
his is a local favorite spot for getting some fresh air, letting dogs wander around off-leash, and just relaxing with beautiful views of the mountains. Once called Denver’s “Temple in the Sun”, the greek-style Cheesman Memorial Pavilion was built in 1910, along with three fountains situated at its base. The city sometimes hosts events at the park during warmer months.
Prospect Hill Cemetery opened in 1858 and only lasted about 2 decades before falling into despair. The first burial was in 1859, and in the following years the cemetery became sectioned off for different religious groups and other organizations. There were areas for the Society of Masons, Jewish people, Roman Catholics, and more that each had the responsibility of maintaining their burial plots.
Only a few sections were adequately taken care of, and by the latter part of the 1880s the cemetery was rarely used and rather unsightly. Lobbyists successfully gained authorization to convert the land into a town park, and families were given only 90 days to relocate the bodies of their loved ones. Some had the means to do so and others did not, meaning over 5,000 bodies were left unclaimed.
After a contractor relocated the remaining bodies, construction of the park began in 1890. The area was leveled, grass was planted, and plans for the Cheesman Memorial Pavilion were drawn up. The pavilion became a popular community gathering place, hosting Broadway musicals and other open-air performances in the warmer months.
Today, after a few more improvements and expansions, the park reaches from Humboldt Street on the west side, to Denver Botanic Gardens on the east. It spans over 80 acres and is filled with a variety of trees. Interestingly, it has become a sort of hub for Denver’s LGBTQ community, serving as the starting point for the annual PrideFest parade and the AIDS Walk.
- Pavilion – Perfect for resting in the shade or just admiring the unique architecture and massive marble pillars.
- Fountains – Originally used as wading pools until the 1970s. Today the fountains serve as a visual point of interest, and of course, a great place to flip a coin and make a wish.
- Picnic Area- Plop down on any of the 80 acres of grassy land to enjoy a picnic and views of the Rocky Mountains on a warm day.
- Playground – Located on the west side of the park between 10th and 11th Avenues.
- Restrooms – There are two public restrooms within the park, one located on the west side near 9th Avenue and one on the east side near the pavilion.
Biking/Hiking – Outside path takes about thirty minutes to walk around. Bicycling is only permitted on park roads.
Ghost Tours – Because of its unique history, this park is a popular spot for ghost tours. Many companies offer 1-2 hour walking tours that outline the spooky legends of the haunted park.
Picnicking – Claim a spot within the pavilion or choose between numerous picnic tables dotted throughout the park.
Address: 1599 East 8th Ave, Denver, CO
Season: Year-round, daily from 5am to 11pm
Pets: Yes, on-leash
Map: Cheesman Park (PDF)