Dog lovers in Denver are always looking for dog parks at which their prized pooches can run free and socialize with other creatures for whom butt-sniffing is as polite as can be.
Fortunately, the Mile High City has plenty of options, as this City of Denver map proves. But which are the best?
For that, we turn to our annual Best of Denver issues.
Each of the past six years, our intrepid Best of Denver staffers have chosen a Best Dog Park, picking up on a category that goes back to at least 2005.
Below, see seven winners, featuring original blurbs and, in most cases, videos that'll make your canine companion drool in anticipation.
Check them out below.
Best of Denver 2005: Greenway Park
Denver has greatly expanded its off-leash options for canine lovers in the past year, but Greenway Park wins high marks for security, cleanliness and doggie good vibes. Amenities include several hydrants, plenty of plastic bags and shaded benches, but it's the community feeling of the place that makes it work. It's a great place for residents to become neighbors.
Best of Denver 2010: Chatfield State Park Dog Training Area
Chatfield's off-leash area was originally intended for people who wanted to train hunting dogs in an outdoor environment. In fact, last year there was some question as to whether the dog-training space would remain open at all: Hunters and horseback riders had complained that the number of off-leash dogs was interfering with their use of the park. But right now there are no plans to close the dog-training area to any of its users, which means that you and your pooch can still enjoy acres and acres of open space, wooded coves, two lakes more than big enough to swim in and a creek running through the entire park. There are paved pathways as well as dirt trails weaving in and around the area, restrooms, bag stations for cleanup (you might want to bring some extras) and all the space that Rover needs for roaming.
Best of Denver 2011: West Arvada Dog Park
What's the point of living in Colorado if you don't take advantage of wide-open spaces and mountain views every once in a while? This fenced five-acre park has separate real estate for shy and small dogs, and there are benches for two-legged visitors to recline while the dogs romp. You'll need to bring your own water and poop baggies — but the community feel of this park is a definite asset. As a special-use park on City of Arvada land, the West Arvada Dog Park is operated by volunteers, and upgrades are funded by donation, so slip a buck or two into the donation box and help a pup out.
Best of Denver 2012: Stapleton
Here's the thing about dog parks: They're for dogs, and mostly medium-to-large dogs that need some exercise. So while you, the human, might like a spot with a lot of grass, shade, benches, pedicures and an espresso bar, your dog wants a huge expanse of land to burn off its energy. Stapleton fits that description better than any park in the city. It's massive and it's all sand. Rocky may have made running in sand look easy and super-awesome, but it will have your dog's tongue hanging in no time.
Best of Denver 2013: Foothills Community Dog Park
Tucked away in Boulder's north end, this modest two-acre retreat has much to recommend it, pooch-wise — including separate fenced areas for large and small dogs, great surrounding scenery, and a less chaotic vibe than larger parks or the sprawling off-leash areas at the reservoirs. Recent upgrades at Foothills Community Dog Park, including shelters and water lines, make this an even more ideal retreat for you and your Boulder-ready, bandanna-wearing canine.
Best of Denver 2014: Westminster Hills Dog Park
Are you tired of the packed-in feel of small dog parks, and the same forced questions from well-meaning fellow dog lovers: Is it a boy or a girl? What's his name? How old is she? If so, then escape to the Westminster Dog Park, 420 acres of off-leash open space where you and your best friend can wander the empty landscape. In the summer, gather around a pond, throw sticks and balls and let your dog cool off in the water; in the winter, ski, snowshoe and sled alongside Fido. You'll both be worn out afterward.
Best of Denver 2015: Berkeley Lake Dog Park
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It's no secret that Denver is a dog town — our canine friends are everywhere — and Berkeley Lake Dog Park gives our four-legged kings and queens plenty of room to roam off-leash. Its rolling terrain is mostly gravel, which is great for letting pups blow off steam without getting their paws all muddy. There's a separate area for lower-energy dogs to have fun, too, so older pooches and smaller hounds have as much of a chance to go wild as the bigger, giddier fellows. Lovely views of historic Lakeside Amusement Park to the west and Berkeley Lake to the east make the dog park equally inviting for the mutts' people friends, the ones who drive them there.