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Neighborhoods - I-70 Corridor: Paradise Hills

Wildlife, horses, and people share the land

Unincorporated JeffCo • Golden zip code 80401 • north of I-70 Lookout Mountain exit 256

Joe Dekker and Howard Lamm acquired about 1,000 acres of the 2300-acre resort planned for most of Lookout Mountain in 1890. They established the Paradise Hills Horse Ranch in the 1940s. With support from Denver filmmaker Rick Ricketson, the men organized the “Round-Up Riders of the Rockies,” an annual gathering of executive and celebrity men “dedicated to the perpetuation of the Western Tradition associated with the relationship between the American cowboy and his horse.”

After the first 18 men quit from exhaustion in three days in 1948, Dekker and Lamm knew they needed someone to teach the men about horses. It was Brigadier General Wayne "Sage” Kester (an Air Force Veterinarian) that saved the event in 1950. The “General” commanded the annual event of 60+ local businessmen joined by others from across the U.S until 1996. In 1958, Kester purchased adjoining land to build a home and care for his own equines.

For 15 years, the Round-Up Riders assembled at Paradise Hills, rode many Colorado trails, including the Apex Trail down to Heritage Square. A Texas catering service served three meals a day on the trail and participants learned to trap shoot and fish. They participated in parades and rodeos in Denver, Boulder, Central City and other resort towns and sponsored a horse show with Indian dancers and Hollywood entertainers at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Horse show
Click the photo to view the history of the Roundup Riders of the Rockies that began in Paradise Hills Ranch.

In 1958, the first Lookout Mountain/Paradise Hills plat and covenants were filed with Jefferson County. After Pete and Pris Bates built their home in 1966, he became a legendary community volunteer. “When we first moved here,” Pris said, “There were few elk or deer. We had a terrible problem with porcupines spearing our pet dogs. There were plenty of coyotes in Apex Gulch. At night you could hear coyote packs communicating from Apex Gulch across Highway 40 to Genesee Park.” Pete helped establish the water district for 10 years and served on the board for 12 more years. He also served the HOA board for 20 years and informed county officials about street signs, changes in platting, etc.

Pete's Park
A rock bench by Pati Stajcar in “Pete’s Park” along Paradise Road is a memorial for the legendary community service of Pete Bates

After many custom homes were built, the Paradise Hills Homeowner Association was established in 1981. County Commissioner Joanne Patterson was Secretary/Treasurer 1981-83. PHHA got dirt roads paved by the county in 1982 but were unsuccessful in blocking the rezoning for the Clear Channel tower by Buffalo Bill Grave and the FOX channel 31 at Cedar Lake Road.

Paradise Hills homeA planned development for 25 more custom homes was approved by the JeffCo Planning Commission in 1972, but Golden withheld water taps until Lookout Mountain Water District was approved by voters in 1988. “The Ridges” (facing I-70) were then replatted for 68 new homes marketed as “Genesee Pointe.” New owners were invited to join the established HOA of 112 homes.

horseback ridersParadise Hills volunteers helped establish Canyon Area Residents for the Environment (CARE), a consortium of 30 HOAs in Mt. Vernon Canyon (including Genesee), and JeffCo’s Central Mountains Community Plan. Paul Kalkwarf, Ron Kozlowski and other volunteers built the Paradise Hills entrance triangle at US Hwy 40 and Paradise Road in 2001. Volunteers also transformed the remains of a 4.68-acre “gravel pit” into a “greenbelt” with aspen trees and rural fencing.

holiday litesIn 1995, unbuildable “outlots” totaling 31 acres were deeded to PHHA. To reduce wildfire danger, PHHA pays landscapers to cut and remove undergrowth of community open space land. The community prefers drought-resistant, native landscaping rather than lawns that require water in the semi-arid climate.

 

sculptureParadise Hills has been active opposing CDOT extended parking at exit 259 and any increase of electromagnetic radiation from antenna towers. After the EPA study of antenna radiation in 1986, the PHHA board wrote the County Commissioners requesting “consolidation of all existing industrial use for antennas without any increase in radiation.” In 1998, the community requested a state health department audit of cancer cases on Lookout Mountain and a study by CSU that was completed in 2006.

Paradise Hills
photo of Paradise Hills from
Genesee Park by Jim Richardson
courtesy National Geographic
November 1996.

Famous author Clive Cussler wrote many best-selling Dirk Pitt novels in his Paradise Hills home until he moved to Arizona in the late 1990s. Former State Senator Sally Hopper, former Broncos announcer Larry Zimmer, former Denver Public School Superintendent Jerry Wartgow, Bill Coors (now residing in a home built by Bruce Benson), National Park architect Andy Beck, world-class sculptor Pati Stajcar, electrical engineer Al Hislop (educated the community and Jefferson County on electromagnetic radiation from antenna towers) and many well-known attorneys — Deb & Tj Carney, Don D’Antuono, Kevin Groeneweg, among others — live in Paradise Hills. Many residents serve on the water and fire district boards and are volunteer firefighters.

Organized: HOA dues for 185 families (population 500) are $150 annually to manage water laterals, mitigate noxious weeds, and pay liability insurance for 7 board members; Approximately half of the annual dues are donated to CARE; Architectural Review Committee manages covenants; New homeowners are greeted with a basket of area information.

Traditions: Spring clean-up; 4th of July neighborhood parade; 160 American flags posted on fencing during the holiday; Annual “End of Summer” pool party and picnic at Mount Vernon Country Club in August; Annual Meeting (pot luck) in January at the Boettcher Mansion or Crystal Rose.

Public JeffCo Schools: Ralston Elementary, Bell Middle and Golden High School.

Real estate values: $500,000 to $3 million.

Plus: Apex Trail and Lookout Mountain Road are paradise for bikers

Minus: “Elk crossings” sometimes cause fence boards to fall. Shopping requires driving 8 miles to Evergreen, Golden, or Lakewood. The combined tax for water, fire protection, and emergency services is 29 mil.

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