Children reaping the benefits of metro region play areas built in harmony with the environment.
A new type of playground is emerging. But it’s not built of plastic and metal. Instead, these new playgrounds are formed by natural materials like trees, dirt and water.
And kids love them.
According to Gordon Robertson, director of park planning for Denver Parks and Recreation, “Studies show that when kids go to a traditional playground, they get bored quickly, whereas with nature play done well, kids stay longer and come back more frequently.”
Here are three of the latest and greatest natural play areas in the seven county metro area.
1.) Pasquinel’s Landing Park
Located in Southwest Denver, just south of Overland Park, Pasquinel’s landing offers kids a chance to play on log structures, and also safely access the South Platte River.
The Denver Post notes the park features an inlet that brings water in away from river. Michael Bouchard, of Denver Parks and Recreation, notes this inlet allows children and others to safely enjoy the waterway.
Recreational opportunities such as an adult fitness center make Pasquinel’s the perfect place for kids and adults.
2. Johnson Habitat Park
Spending time in nature can be difficult when you are based in Denver. This natural play area attempts to change that by providing a slice of nature in the heart of the Central Denver.
According to the Greenway Foundation, getting your family outside is not only fun, but, “can also help with health, social and academic issues.”
With natural log areas and large boulders, Johnson Habitat Park is the perfect place for kids of all ages to reap the benefits of natural play. There’s even a campsite with a fire pit, perfect for making s’mores in the heart of the city.
Ian Harwick, president of the Athmar Park Neighborhood Association states, “It’s an amazing park and… the investment on the river is long overdue for the city.”
3. Little Dry Creek
While currently under construction, Little Dry Creek is already raising the bar of nature play areas. The City of Westminster raves about the Westminster Station Park. It will feature, “an incredible nature playground featuring a ‘mountain,’ embankment slides, sand and water play areas, climbing obstacles, bridges, and lookout towers — all constructed from natural materials and designed to encourage children to unleash their creativity and connect with nature.”
These three natural play areas are not just a more fun playground experience for kids. They are also connecting kids to nature, and giving adults the same opportunity, which reaps social, emotional and educational rewards, and improves people’s quality life. The hope is larger than just offering kids the opportunity to play in nature in an urban or suburban setting. It’s also about cultivating a generation who, based on their childhood experiences, become better people, leaders and stewards of the environment.