Lookout Mountain is a foothill of the Rocky Mountains. The 7,377-foot peak is located in Lookout Mountain Park, 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west downtown Golden. Known for its natural scenery, Lookout Mountain has played a major role in area recreation, transportation, water supply and telecommunications over the years. Its earliest known inhabitants were the Ute tribe of American Indians, who used the mountain as a lookout point for the surrounding region. Downtown Denver, only 12 miles to the east, can be seen clearly from the mountain.
The summit is also famous as the gravesite of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, a facility owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, exists to preserve the memory of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. To this end, it maintains the Cody gravesite and related structures on Lookout Mountain Park, collects cares for and interprets artifacts associated with “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s life and times between 1846 and 1917, and records Cody’s ongoing influence on American culture. The museum overlooks beautiful Golden, Colorado.
Built in 1913, the Lariat Loop road ascends from Golden up the steep east side of Lookout Mountain. (Well actually up the side of Mount Zion. Many people confuse Mount Zion and Lookout Mountain.) The Lariat trail built by “Cement Bill” Williams is a 4.6-mile switchback of 56 curves including seven hairpins that rise 2,000 feet from 19th Street to Buffalo Bill’s Grave. The pylons at the base of the loop were built in 1917, the same year Charles Boettcher, a Denver entrepreneur, built a summer home formerly called Lorraine Lodge on Lookout Mountain for his family that was used for hunting retreats. In 1968, Boettcher’s granddaughter, Charline Breeden, donated the lodge that is now known as Boettcher Mansion and 110 acres in Jefferson County. The mansion has been restored and is now a site for special events.
Lookout Mountain is also home to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve has interactive exhibits that take visitors on a tour of the foothills for adults and children. Connect with nature at this 110-acre park. Inside experience exhibits that depict migrating birds and reveal secrets of the ponderosa pine forest. Visit the Discovery Corner and Observation Room. Outside stroll trails winding through forest and meadow, picnic beneath towering pine trees or join a naturalist-guided program.
The offerings of the Nature Center extend to their Preserve. This mountain-top oasis offers gentle hiking trails past ponderosa pines and through meadows, affording panoramic views of the Denver metro area. Their 110 acres provide habitat for black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, elk and Abert’s squirrels. Wildflowers abound in warmer months while peace prevails on snowy winter days. The 1.5 miles of trails are open to hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers, but are closed to bicyclists, equestrians and those hiking with a dog.
Lookout Mountain is famous for road cycling. It was featured in several of the last US Pro Challenge races. Mountain bikers and hikers also enjoy the area. The Chimney Gulch trail, a challenging, narrow “single track” hiking trail that crisscrosses the Lariat Loop road twice on its way to the summit provides an excellent hike or ride close to Denver. Lookout Mountain is also popular with paragliders.