Denver at a Glance
Welcome to Denver, where 300 days of sunshine, a thriving cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and natural beauty combine for the world's most spectacular playground. A young, active city at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Denver's stunning architecture, award-winning dining and unparalleled views are all here, year-round.
Local boosters named the frontier mining camp on the South Platte River "Denver" after Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver in hopes of gaining political favor. Unfortunately, Denver had retired by the time they named the town. There were originally three separate towns, with three separate names, where Denver now stands. In 1859, the other names were dropped in return for a barrel of whiskey to be shared by all. Fittingly enough, the first permanent structure in Denver was a saloon.
By an amazing stroke of good luck, the 13th step on the west side of the Colorado State Capitol Building is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level - one mile high. In Denver's rarified air, golf balls go 10 percent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a punch than at sea level. The Mile High City is also extremely dry, so it is a good idea to drink more water than usual. With less water vapor in the air at this altitude, the sky really is bluer in Colorado.
Denver is near the mountains, not in them. The Mile High City is located on high rolling plains, 12 miles east of the "foothills," a series of gentle mountains that climb to 11,000 feet. Just beyond is the "Front Range of the Rocky Mountains," a series of formidable snowcapped peaks that rise to 14,000 feet. Denver might not be in the mountains, but the mountains still dominate the city. The picturesque mountain panorama from Denver is 140 miles long. There are 200 visible named peaks including 32 that soar to 13,000 feet and above.
Denver has a population of 682,545 while there are nearly 3 million people in the metro area. The region's population grew 13.8 percent between 2010 and 2015. According to the 2015 census, 31 percent of the city is made up of Hispanics, while African-Americans make up 10 percent.
The mountainous area of Colorado is six times the size of Switzerland, containing 9,600 miles (15,449 km) of fishing streams, 2,850 lakes, and more than 1,000 peaks two miles (3,218 km) high.
The road to the top of the 14,260-foot (4,346 km) peak of Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America and is maintained and operated by Denver City Parks Department.
In 1893, while on top of nearby Pikes Peak, Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the words to "America the Beautiful."
Central City, located about 45 minutes west of Denver, is known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth" due to the half billion dollars of gold that was mined there.
The Pikes Peak Railway (515 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs), located about an hour and a half south of Denver, is the highest cog railway in the world, traveling 8.9 miles from 6,571 feet to the summit at 14,110 feet.
The Colorado Trail is a 500-mile-long hiking trail, stretching from Durango to Denver, and crosses eight mountain ranges, seven national forests, six wilderness areas, and five river systems.