Opened in 1876, the Riverside Cemetery was originally intended to be so attractive that families would spend the day picnicking there. Today, Denver’s oldest operating cemetery has lost its water rights, slashed its custodial budget, and the fading tombstones and overgrown crypts marking the burial sites of more than 67,000 members of Colorado history are listed on the state preservation group’s “most endangered places.”
The historic cemetery is a study in contrasts. Its location on the South Platte River made it an ideal final resting place for the wealthy. Unfortunately, Denver grew in a different direction, and now the cemetery is surrounded by industrial parks, train tracks, and Interstate 70.
Still, touring its plots are a walk through the history of the West. One of the most famous graves is a miniature-stone cabin belonging to Lester Eugene Drake Sr., complete with a miner’s pickax and shovel, flowers, and mule droppings. Other notable residents include freed slave Clara Brown, U.S. Congressmen and governors, suffragists, pioneers, railroad barons, the co-founder of Coors, civil rights activists, members of the first baseball and basketball leagues, and around 1,000 veterans.
Riverside became a member of the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and issued its final grave site (due to financial concerns) in 2005.
Know Before You Go
Grounds open daily
Office Hours Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 10:00-3:00pm
Sun, Mon, Wed and Fri - closed
Closed all Holidays