Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

South Platte Greenbelt (Denver section) - Denver County
Aliases: Ruby Hill Park, Overland Lake Park, Vanderbilt Park, Platte River Drive, Heron Pond Natural Area
Ownership: None Listed
Description: The South Platte River runs through Denver County roughly southwest to north.

Anchoring the southern end of the South Platte Greenbelt in Denver is Ruby Hill Park, which is not the best for birds, having mostly only scattered shade trees. Just across the river to the northeast is Overland Lake Park, which has a couple of ponds and some lowland riparian habitat. Another half-mile north is Vanderbilt Park, arguably the best of these three, where a thin but dense layer of riparian forest surrounds an isolated pond. Some good warbler might show up here someday.

The southern half of the Denver portion of this greenbelt is accompanied on the west by Platte River Drive, which is by turns sleepy and busy. Its sleepy sections can provide good car access to various stretches of riparian habitat, a fact that will be of particular interest to winter birders looking for ducks along the river. Among others, Barrow's Goldeneye and interesting hybrids have wintered just north of Alameda.

North of Colfax, the South Platte Greenbelt can be sketchy and is best birded in pairs or groups, as it passes through industrial Denver and attracts some unsavory characters. Nonetheless, it can be worthwhile. One of the county's more intriguing locations is just off the South Platte at the northern border of the county: Heron Pond Natural Area. Surrounded by noisy, smelly recycling facilities, Heron Pond often seems overrun by grackles and Mourning Doves, but it can be a good place for other blackbirds, waterfowl, herons and egrets, and Hermit Thrush. A dirt trail and mature cottonwoods surround the pond. Open lots to the west and south are scrubby and good for all sorts of sparrows.

Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Pond, Park, Stream
Directions: From I-25 just south of downtown Denver, head south on Santa Fe Drive (US 85) between exits 207 and 208. To get to Vanderbilt Park, take your first right onto Mississippi, then another right on Huron. To get to Overland Lake and Ruby Hill Parks, stay on Santa Fe/85 another few blocks and turn right on Florida. Overland Lake Park will be on your right shortly. If you continue past it across the river, you will see Ruby Hill Park ahead on your left.
Other Wildlife:
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Other Sites in Denver County
eBird Seasonal Bar Chart

Latest South Platte Greenbelt (Denver section) Sightings from eBird


CBRC Records from South Platte Greenbelt (Denver section)

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Canada Goose (Dusky)2013-293 1/21/2013