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Denver, Colorado — Overview for Visitors

Denver Airport, Colorado, USA
Denver Airport, Colorado, USA

The Mile High City

Contrary to popular belief, Denver is not in the mountains; it is near them. The “foothills” start to rise 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the city.

Denver itself is located on high, rolling plains. Although considered “Western” in character, Denver is actually located in the center of the country, just 346 miles (557 km) west of the exact center of the continental United States. With the exception of Kansas City, Denver is closer to the exact center of the nation than any other metropolitan area.

The 15th step on the west side of the State Capitol Building is exactly 5,280 feet (1,609 m), …one mile above sea level which coined the nickname The Mile High City.

Denver – in a nutshell

Denver is a clean, young and green city with over 200 parks and dozens of tree-lined boulevards. The architecture reflects the city’s three boom periods: Victorian, when silver was discovered in Leadville; turn-of-the-century, when gold was discovered in Cripple Creek; and contemporary, when the energy boom added 16 skyscrapers to the downtown skyline in a three year period, 1980-1983.

Unlike some Western cities, Denver has a central downtown area. Here, within easy walking distance, are 5,200 hotel rooms, the city’s convention complex, performing arts complex, and a wide variety of shops, department stores, restaurants, and nightspots. Also within easy walking distance are some of the city’s top attractions including the U.S. Mint, Denver Art Museum and Colorado History Museum. A mile-long pedestrian mall cuts through the heart of downtown Denver and is surrounded by a series of parks and plazas that soften the towering skyscrapers and provide viewpoints from which to see and appreciate the modern architecture.

Lower Downtown (called “LoDo” by locals) is on the northern edge of downtown Denver and offers one of the nation’s greatest concentrations of Victorian buildings and warehouses, many of which have been refurbished to house restaurants, art galleries, offices and shops. This is the center of the city’s brew pubs, with six large brew pubs and micro-breweries, each brewing six to eight exclusive beers, all within easy walking distance of each other. Downtown is also the home of Auraria Campus where three colleges have over 30,000 students.

In May of 1995, Six Flags Elitch Gardens moved to downtown Denver with a year-round amusement park similar to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens offering 48 thrill rides, formal gardens, restaurants and shops. Also in May 1995, downtown Denver unveiled a new 50,000-seat stadium, Coors Field, for the Colorado Rockies, Denver’s Major League Baseball team.

The Mile High Trail is a series of six walking tours throughout the downtown area. Copies can be obtained from the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Information Center in the Tabor Center, located on the 16th Street Mall.

Sightseeing & Attractions

See: Denver Sightseeing & Attractions

nearby: Boulder, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Strings, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, Golden (and Coors Brewery), Idaho Springs, Longmont, Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg

Map

Temperatures

Best time to travel / Season
Year Round

Climate & Temperatures 
Nothing about Denver is more misunderstood than the city’s climate. Located just east of a high mountain barrier and a long distance from any moisture source, Denver has a mild, dry and arid climate. The city receives only 8-15 inches (20.3 – 38 cm) of precipitation a year (about the same as Los Angeles), and records 300 days of sunshine a year — more annual hours of sun than San Diego or Miami Beach.

Winters are mild with an average daily high of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) in February, warmer than New York, Boston, Chicago or St. Louis. Snow does fall, but it usually melts in a short time. Golf courses remain open all year and have been played on as many as 30 days in January.

Chinook winds (a wind blowing down from a mountain that gains heat as it loses elevation) can bring 60 degree F (16 degrees C) weather to Denver at any time throughout the winter.

In summer, dry relative humidity makes Denver feel cool and comfortable, offering natural air conditioning. Fall is a particularly delightful time to visit the city and make day excursions to the mountains to view the colorful changing of the aspens, an event that takes place from mid-September until mid-October.

MonthMax Celsius (F)Min Celsius (F)
Jan6,1 (43)-8,3 (17)
Feb7,7 (46)-7,2 (19)
Mar10,5 (51)-3,9 (25)
Apr16,1 (61)1,1 (34)
May21,1 (70)6,6 (44)
Jun27,2 (81)11,7 (53)
Jul30,5 (87)15 (59)
Aug30 (86)14,2 (57)
Sep25,5 (78)9,4 (49)
Oct19,4 (67)3,3 (38)
Nov11,7 (53)-2,8 (27)
Dec7,7 (46)-6,6 (20)

Visitor Info & Getting around

Population

ca. 715 ooo (2020)
ca. 555 ooo (2000).
The six-county metro area has a population of ca. 2.9 million (2021) vs. 2.3 million in 2000.

Airport

Denver International Airport is situated northeast of downtown, about 20-30 min by car.
Address: 8500 Peña Blvd., Denver, CO

Web: Welcome to Denver International Airport | Denver International Airport (flydenver.com)

Public Transportation

Operated by RTD Denver. Bus and Light-Rail system.
Web: RTD – Regional Transportation District (rtd-denver.com)

Elevation

1.610 m (1 mile)

Visitor Center

Web: Denver Colorado Vacations & Conventions | Visit Denver

History

Denver was born during the great “Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush” of 1859 when some flakes of placer gold were found where the South Platte River meets Cherry Creek. In its first few years, the city survived a flood, two major fires, several Indian attacks and even raised an army that defeated an invading force of Confederates from Texas during the Civil War.
With the discovery of more gold in the mountains, Denver became a boomtown. Saloons, gambling halls and wagon trains lined the mud-filled streets, and every outlaw, lawman and desperado in the West made a visit to the Mile High City.

The turn-of-the-century brought respectability and the wealth of the mountains was poured into parks, fountains, statues, tree-lined streets and elaborate mansions. Denver became the most elegant city in a thousand mile radius — the “Queen City of the Plains.”
The building boom in recent years has seen Denver more than double in population since 1960. In 1983 alone, as much office space was added to the city as already existed.
Recession and a drop in the energy industry caused Denver to slow down in the late 1980’s, but in 1997, the city experienced its highest hotel occupancy in eight years and the highest average room rate ever, a sure sign that the economy in Mile High Denver had recovered once again.

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