The Outdoor Adventure and Alternative Sports Strategic Plan builds upon the vision in Denver’s Game Plan for a Healthy City to create a 20-year strategic framework that diversifies current recreation opportunities by providing new ways to engage with and recreate in the outdoors.
Access to outdoor adventure and alternative sports (OAAS) is a critical amenity for Denver, drawing national acclaim for its unique urban and mountain park system. OAAS provide exciting alternatives to traditional fitness and benefits related to health, stewardship, and economic prosperity. Recent studies highlight that despite overall national trends of increased participation, not everyone has equitable access to OAAS. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Denver is not immune to the nationwide outdoor adventure equity gap. Livable Cities Studio (LCS) led collaborative planning and engagement efforts to develop this plan, which will help Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) address the issues of equitable access to outdoor recreation head on and position Denver as the premier city for outdoor adventure.
LCS facilitated a robust engagement process, reaching 6,664 Denverites through three public meetings, two surveys, and several stakeholder meetings. It became clear through these conversations that a comprehensive set of strategies at various scales must be in place to help people feel safe, comfortable, and welcome participating in OAAS. Adventure priorities were analyzed by geographic area and community input which informed the focus areas, strategies, and signature projects. The plan suggests deliberate, transformative enhancements framed by four focus areas which structure the plan: Increased Participation, Progressive and Inclusive Programming, Access and Transportation, and Communications and Education. Each focus area has associated strategies at either a person, neighborhood, or city and mountain scale. The six signature projects meet a public need and desire for regional adventure attractions while a concept for OAAS activity hubs provide dynamic neighborhood places to support adventure activities, with Ruby Hill Park being Denver’s best current example. LCS collaborated with DPR and sub-consultants Watson Wenk, Stantec, and Berry Dunn to develop an implementation plan which works toward making the outdoors more accessible so Denverites can remain healthy, happy, and thriving.