Late summer ladybug swarms on Centennial Cone
Centennial Cone, the centerpiece of its namesake park, Centennial Cone Open Space
, is a fine little Jefferson County Peak. With forested green north slopes and sun-baked south slopes, the mountain hosts diverse plants and grasses including Prickly Pear, Mountain Mahogany, Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir. The summit is rocky and windswept and affords delightful views of neighboring Jefferson County Eighters and Niners as well as big high country peaks to the west and southwest.
In late summer, ladybugs, which spent the summer in the plains gorging on aphids, make many lower (generally Eleveners and lower) Colorado summits home and Centennial Cone is one such summit. Breeding ladybugs will cover summit surfaces so thickly one cannot walk without crunching them. As summer turns to autumn then winter, the bugs huddle under rocks or leaf litter and wait out the cold weather in a state of dormancy called diapause, before returning to the plains in the spring.
Click images to enlarge.
Ladybugs and Highcountry
The Centennial Cone area also delivers a rich history lesson. The nearby Travois trail was used by Arapaphoe Indians to pass from the mountains to the plains. Later, homesteaders ranched livestock on the grasses surrounding the peak. Ruins of an old mine can be found in a gully on the northwest slope of the peak. Jefferson County completed land purchases from multiple owners over several years to create the Open Space we have today. This Jefferson County PDF
provides more detail on the history of the area.
highest peak in Colorado
Trails Illustrated Map:
#100 (Boulder, Golden)
Rank and Prominence Reference: Lists of John
Centennial Cone sits about 10 miles as the crow flies west of Golden, Colorado in the Jefferson County Centennial Cone Open Space
Old Mining Equipment, NW Gully
|Access Point||Special Note||Driving Directions|
|North Access||Equestrian parking; latrine|
|From Golden, take Colorado Hwy. 93 north approximately 1 mile to Golden Gate Canyon Rd. Go west about 8 miles to Robinson Hill Rd. Travel west approx. 8 miles to Robinson Hill Rd. and turn left. Continue to Camino Perdido, which is the north access road into the park. The trailhead is approximately one mile to the south.|
|West Access||Limited automobile parking; latrine||From West U.S. Hwy. 6 and State Hwy. 93 west of Golden, travel west on Hwy. 6 about 11 miles. Turn right at Hwy. 119, and travel about 1/2 mile. Turn right onto Douglas Mountain Road and travel about one mile to Centennial Cone Road. Turn right and go about 1 mile to Centennial Cone Rd.|
|South Access||Currently closed for construction|
|From West U.S. Hwy. 6 and State Hwy. 93 west of Golden, travel west on Hwy. 6 about 9 miles. The parking area is on the north side of Hwy. 6|
The Jefferson County Open Spaces
are fantastic community recreation resources. However, use of this open space, like others in the Jefferson County system, is subject to more red tape that you could cut with a machete. In addition to standard use regulations one would expect with regards to littering, open fires, alcoholic beverages, etc., the following additional rules apply:
Centennial Cone from the West
Hiker/Biker Use Schedule
To reduce conflict, Centennial Cone Open space has implemented an alternating weekend use schedule for hikers and mountain bikers. Even-numbered weekend dates allow mountain biking; while odd-numbered weekend dates provide access for hikers. Equestrian use is allowed on any day.
The parks is closed in December and January to allow deer and elk hunting.
Elk Grazing Calving Closures
The Centennial Cone area is used by elk for winter range and as a calving ground. Elk Range Trail and the adjacent area is subject to seasonal from 31 January to 15 June, or whenever the herd moves out of the area for the summer.
And here, for reference, are the standard rules governing use of Centennial Cone Open Space:
Full Jefferson County Open Space Regulations
- Follow Alternate Use Schedule
- Dogs must be on a leash; pick up after your pet
- No fires
- No camping
- Motorized vehicles prohibited
- No feeding wildlife
- Adhere to posted Park closures
- Open carrying of firearms is prohibited
- Park is open one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset
Camping & LodgingCentennial Cone is very close to the Denver Metropolitan Area and the city of Golden is only 10 miles away. The vast majority of visitors wishing to summit Centennial Cone will do so as a day outing. For those wishing to spend the night in the immediate vicinity of Centennial Cone, the options are limited.
North toward summit block
Centennial Cone Open Space
Centennial Cone Open Space is a day-use park only. There is no overnight camping allowed in the park.
Blackhawk Mountain & Douglas Mountain Looking northwest from the summit
Chief Hosa Lodge & Campground
This option is available only during the summer, from 1st may through the third weekend in September. Visit Chief Hosa Lodge & Campground
for more information about this colorful option.
Golden and vicinity provides a decent selection of hotels, even a luxury property or two. Visit this page
for more information about hotels, motels and B&Bs in Golden.
Just a few exits west on I-70, the town of Idaho Springs provides some limited (mostly budget) lodging options. Visit this page
for more information about lodging in Idaho Springs.
Weather & Seasons
The Centennial Cone Summit AreaSummer:
Summer will bring heat and crowds to this open space. This area is very sunny with little shade, so bring sunscreen and a brimmed hat.
Winter through Spring:
Check the status of area Elk Closures before venturing out to visit this peak. Also be forewarned that the narrow, steep, guardrail-free road to the western entrance could be treacherous in slick conditions.
From late September through the beginning of Elk closures is probably the prime time to visit Centennial Cone. The days are cooler, the sun less fierce, the crowds thinning a bit. As a bonus, the high country to the west and southwest may already be cloaked in early season snow.