Friday, May 17, 2019

High Country Parks and a Giveaway!


When I first started reading historical “cowboy” books, I noticed that parks were frequently mentioned. In the Western ranching context, it was easy to see that these parks were not grassy city blocks set aside for recreation, but valuable cow country—high mountain rangeland conducive to raising cattle, particularly in Colorado.
Pushing cow-calf pairs across a small high-country park in
south-central Colorado, looking over the ears of the author's horse 
from Badger Creek Ranch.
The term park is a “Colorado-centric idiom meaning upland valley,” says Shannon Davis in an article on the Estes Park, Colorado, web site. The mountain town of Estes Park is one of several with park in its name due to its meadow-like surroundings. Established in 1859, the town was named by Rocky Mountain News co-founder and editor, William N. Byers, for one of its first non-native residents, Joel Estes from Kentucky. It is not to be confused with the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park – a different kind of park, four of which are also found in the state.

The Colorado connection fed my curiosity. Besides Estes Park, we have Winter Park and Woodland Park. There is even a Park County. In my neck of the woods, we’ve got a small unincorporated community known as Parkdale, as well as High Park Road, Lincoln Park, and Garden Park. Veteran cowboy author and area rancher Paul Huntley also mentions Webster Park and Gribble Park in his hand-drawn maps and colorful first-person publications from the 1970s.
A smaller park near Colorado's Royal Gorge Bridge and Canon City,
similar to those mentioned by cowboy author, Paul Huntley.
Photo by author.
The word “park” has its origins in Medieval Latin, as a well as Old High German, and the Old English word for paddock. But the term landed in North America in the 1840s when trappers and explorers labeled three high-mountain valleys or parks west of the Front Range and one, San Luis Park or Valley, west of the Sangre de Cristo Range.
Near Walden in Colorado's North Park backed by the Park Range mountains.
Image from Wikimedia Commons. 
There are countless small high-country parks in Colorado, but the three primary inter-mountain valleys are North Park (8,800 ft.) that lies at the headwaters of the North Platte River and stretches into Wyoming; Middle Park (8,000 ft.) that cradles the narrow basin of the Colorado River; and South Park (9,000 – 10,000 ft), the largest of the three flat basins and found at the headwaters of the South Platte River.
Colorado's South Park looking northeast to the Front Range.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
In simple cowboy-speak, “park” is where you want to graze your cattle. Today, the Colorado parks are known for producing a coveted, short-season crop of Timothy hay. Kentucky thoroughbred horse farms pay dearly for good mountain grass hay from the Rocky Mountain parks.


Enter for a chance to win an e-book copy of An Unexpected Redemption by signing up for my quarterly author update here: and sharing today’s post on one of your social media accounts. Comment below to let me know where you shared and if you’re already one of my subscribers. The winner’s name will be drawn the evening of May 18, 2019 at 8 p.m.

Memories spread through her like the gas light, complete with the sweet tinge of sage and pine. Of riding the high parks with Cade and their pa and ending the day with whatever Deacon could fit in a skillet.…Betsy felt free. As free as the mares in late spring when Cade and their pa turned the band out on the high parks. ~An Unexpected Redemption

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at


  1. Thanks for the post! It's interesting to know how the same word may mean different things in various areas of the country.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Connie. Words are one of my favorite things!

  2. Loved this post! I am already your subscriber and I've shared on Twitter and FB.


  3. Yes, Connie. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I have subscribed and shared on Facebook! I spent a summer as the intern at Badger Creek Ranch!

    1. Yea, Trista. A fellow BCRer. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Trista - You were chosen by as the winner of an e-copy of an unexpected redemption. Congratulations!