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Pueblo Mountain Park

Admission Fee

Free to the Public


  1. Gazebos / Shelters
  2. Horseshoes
  3. Meeting Rooms
  4. Parking
  5. Pavilion
  6. Picnic Areas
  7. Trail access
  8. Water
Brass plaque commemorating Americas First Recreational Planning Development in a National Forest San Isabel and Pueblo Mountain Park img FULL TEXT INCLUDED BELOW Click to enlarge img


In 1918, the Pueblo Commerce Club asked San Isabel National Forest Supervisor, Al G. Hamel, to install camping and picnic facilities on Forest lands west of Pueblo. Hamel recognized the need but did not have the funds for such a project, so the Club and the City of Pueblo shared costs and developed the first facilities in Squirrel Creek Canyon near Buelah. Arthur H. Carthart, the first landscape architect hired by the Forest Service, became "Recreational Engineer" for San Isabel Forest in 1919. Through the efforts of the Commerce Club, Carhart and Hamel, the non-profit San Isabel Public Recreation Association (SIPRA) was formed in 1919. This was the first time private citizens had banded together to foster and fund recreational development of a National Forest.

The City of Pueblo further committed to mountain playgrounds in 1919 by purchasing 600 acres adjoining the San Isabel Forest near Beulah, to be known as Pueblo Mountain Park. The City continued to support Squirrel Creek and built a lodge there known as the Pueblo Municipal Building. In 1919 Carhart wrote two plans for recreation and development in the Wet Mountains. His narrative, "Big Regional Plan," provided the broad concepts and policies required to produce a magnificent recreation area in the San Isabel. His action plan was site-specific and included roads, viewing areas, trails, campgrounds, private residences, commercial developments and organized group camps. It guided the efforts of SIPRA through 1937 and influenced the development of Pueblo Mountain Park.

SIPRA projects included recreations facilities and roads throughout the Spanish Peaks, Sangre de Cristos, and Wet Mountains. The road work was completed by County, State and Forest Service crews and most eventually became State and County highways.

In 1920, Frank K. Culley, then head of the Landscape Design at Iowa State College, was hired to design and supervise construction of campgrounds on Squirrel Creek, North Creek and South Hardscrabble Creek-possibly the first designed and built by a landscape architect on the National Forests. Also built in 1920, the Cascade Trail may have been the first trail on the National Forest designed primarily for esthetic recreational hiking. 

Pueblo was devastated by a flood in June 1921 and City funding priorities shifted. SIPRA, however, continued with its projects including a caretaker's house and improvements to Pueblo Mountain Park. The Depression years slowed or stopped projects in the San Isabel until 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave new life to recreational development.

The first CCC camp in Colorado was established on South Hardscrabble Creek in April 1933. The South Creek (Mountain Park) CCC camp became operational on this site in November 1935 and contributed the major part of the Park's development. After the CCC camp was removed, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews completed the Horseshoe Lodge, pavilion, other structures and stonework throughout the park.

Additional improvements have been done by City Parks Department crews throughout the years and Pueblo Mountain Park now contains all the components of Carhart's plan for an outdoor playground. The park, with its classic Depression Era structures, was nominated for the National List of Historic Places in 1933.

The final SIPRA project was the purchase of land for construction of Lake Isabel Dam and Reservoir. This project was completed by a CCC Camp that was established at Lake Isabel in May 1937.

Ray H. Talbot was a City Commissioner from 1929 until 1946. During those years his leadership and political skills provided more permanent physical improvements of City, County and State owned facilities within the Pueblo area, than any elected official before or since.

Special appreciation must be expressed for the men and women that worked to provide, construct and maintain Pueblo Mountain Park during the past 75 years; for the vision of Ray H. Talbot; and for years of dedication and effort by George  L. Williaras, who came to the Mountain Park in 1933 and was responsible for it until retiring in 1973 as Pueblo's first Director of Parks and Recreation.

Provided by the Pueblo County Historical Society and the State Historical Fund