Updated: May 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm
It took more than 30 years, but a pristine slice of the foothills northwest of Colorado Springs is set to open to the public as a state park.
Physician Frances Staunton gave her family's 1,720-acre ranch to the state decades ago. The landscape features rocky outcroppings, grassy valleys, historic cabins and one of the higher waterfalls in Colorado, and Staunton wanted it "to be preserved in perpetuity" as a state park.
She died in 1989, with no development of the park on the horizon and neighbors quibbling about traffic and other concerns. But Staunton's long-delayed vision will come to fruition Saturday, as Staunton State Park opens its gates.
It took a while to raise money to buy additional land for the park and pay for development. Auditors at one point said the land would have to be developed or given away.
The park is off U.S. 285 near Evergreen.
"Our grand opening is the culmination of years of planning and development by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in partnership with many organizations and individuals," Staunton State Park manager Jennifer Anderson said in a news release.
"But it all started with Frances Staunton's vision for the mountain ranch her parents homesteaded in the early 20th century," Anderson said.
"This park is her legacy," Anderson said. "As her beneficiaries, we have the opportunity to enjoy and care for the landscape she treasured."