Parks & Open Space

Success Story

Love Where We Live.

Open space is an essential piece of Boulder County's character and quality of life.

The idea of a county open space program started in the mid-1960s by Boulder County residents who were interested in parks and recreation needs of the unincorporated area and in preserving open space land in the face of rapid county development.

The open space program became a reality in January 1975, and the first two properties, Betasso Preserve and Walker Ranch, were purchased in 1977. Today, Boulder County residents can be proud to have protected more than 100,000 acres of land and built 117 miles of trails.
Boulder County has protected working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, riparian and wetland areas, scenic vistas and buffers between communities.

The connecting trail systems traverse across vast open spaces from the foothills to the plains and provide glimpses of our history, agricultural sites, and abundant natural resources. Boulder County open spaces offer abundant opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding in the mountains and on the plains; scenic picnic sites; and prime spots for birdwatching.

Why It Matters
What's Being Done
Parks & Open Space
Why it Matters


Open space can help Boulder County’s economy by attracting quality workers for area businesses, increasing space for bike paths and other active transportation options between cities, and infusing local and tourist dollars into outdoor recreation activities.


Boulder County has 780 conservation easements protecting 40,000 acres of property. A conservation easement on privately owned agricultural land is a wonderful example of how prime agricultural land can be protected and still remain economically viable for local organic farmers.

Boulder County performs prescribed burns on open space. Prescribed burns reduce forest understory fuels to help decrease the occurrence and impact from large wildfires, and protect property and investments.

The open space properties are a wonderful resource. When I am spending money I try to do so in Boulder County to provide sales tax support for open space.”
Hall Ranch Park Visitor
Why it Matters


1.46 million
metric tons CO2e

Soil Carbon Stocks: Boulder County Open Space agricultural lands held 1.46 million metric tons CO2e to 20cm depth at the end of 2013.

2.47 million
metric tons CO2e

Biomass Carbon Stocks: Boulder County Open Space forest and shrub lands held 2.47 million metric tons CO2e at the end of 2013.

8K +
shrubs & flowers

In 2015, 8,150 trees, shrubs and flowers were planted.

Why it Matters


Volunteer Naturalists have played a significant role for more than 40 years in sharing the joy, wonder, and appreciation of this unique natural heritage with the Boulder County community. In 2015, 304 natural history interpretive and educations programs were offered.

3K +

In 2015, more than 3,000 volunteers contributed 32,216 hours for forestry and seed collection, trail building, bird monitoring, historic site tours, and naturalist hikes and field trips.

The estimated number of visits to Boulder County Parks & Open Space is more than 1.3 million annually. Most visitors are very happy with POS land with the average rating at 8.7 out of 10.

Thank you for maintaining open space for all to enjoy! It’s my favorite thing about living here & the reason I’ve stayed so long!”
Betasso Preserve Park Visitor
What’s Being done



With more than 100,000 acres of open space, Boulder County is committed to conserving natural, cultural, and agricultural resources and providing public uses that reflect sound resource management and community values.


Of the 63,725 acres of publicly owned and leased land, 60% (38,336 acres) is open to the public.

Parks and Open Space staff strive to acquire land that meet these criteria:

  • Land threatened by development that is near or adjacent to existing open space
  • Prime agricultural land
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Riparian and scenic corridors
  • Land that could provide trail connections
What’s Being done


Open Space Management

With more than 100,000 acres of open space, we are committed to conserving natural, cultural, and agricultural resources and providing public uses that reflect sound resource management and community values.

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Forest Management

Boulder County Parks & Open Space manages more than 30,000 acres of forest. As trusted stewards of these public lands, it is our responsibility to improve the health of these forests.

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Agricultural Lands on Open Space

The county owns approximately 25,000 acres of agricultural land and leases it to qualified operators. The Parks & Open Space Agricultural Resources Division oversees the land, manages the leases, and tracks rent and crop production.

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Parks & Trails

Enjoy more than 110 miles of trails and experience the beauty of 35,000 acres of open space that is open to the public.

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Educational Services & Museums

We work hard to protect, restore and interpret our cultural and natural resources for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations. Boulder County offers educational opportunities for adults and children.

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Boulder County Youth Corps

The Boulder County Youth Corps provides opportunities for Boulder County teens to develop a sense of community involvement through personal accomplishment, teamwork and service to the county. BCYC employs almost 200 people each year to improve public trails, lands and facilities.

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What’s Being done

Take Action

  • Volunteer!

    Boulder County Parks & Open Space have numerous volunteer opportunities, including custom group volunteer projects, and partnership programs for businesses and organizations.

  • Have a youth who is looking to make a difference?

    Boulder County Parks & Open Space has many opportunities for kids and teenagers looking to volunteer, learn, and be challenged.

  • Take part!

    Experience the many recreational and cultural opportunities that make Boulder County a remarkable place. Visit the events calendar for group-led hikes, special events, and kids programs.