The City and County of Denver is Colorado’s largest city, as well as the capital city of Colorado.
Denver is known as the Mile High City because it’s elevation is 1 mile above sea level. There are many Denver attractions that mark the spots where the elevation is exactly 5280 feet. The 13th step of the Colorado State Capital Building, and the purple row of seats inside Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, are two examples.
History of Denver
Like many cities in the West, Denver got its start as a gold mining camp after prospectors discovered gold where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet. The mining camp grew into a major city in the area thanks to the railroads.
The US Census Bureau pegs Denver’s population at 598,707. However, most people would consider the city to be much larger. While Denver’s official boundaries contain just under 600,000 residents, this reflects a law which prevented Denver from annexing any new land, thus, artificially limiting its size. The surrounding area, known as the Denver Metro Area, has closer to 2 1/2 million people.
Modern technology obscures Denver’s semi-arid climate. The area averages just 13 inches of total precipitation each year. While the city does get snow in the winter, most storms pack less than an inch or two of accumulation. Most of the time, the snow melts away the next day, sparing Denver the slush and grayness that can plague other wintry cities.
While spring Thunderstorms can be powerful, Denver’s location next to the Rocky Mountains spares it from most of the severe weather, particularly tornadoes, that is common in its neighbors to the east.
Together, these factors provide for very sunny conditions, regardless of temperature, throughout the year. Denver boasts of 300 days of sunshine a year. Don’t let that fool you into thinking the weather is always the same, though. A favorite saying of the locals is, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.”
Denver sits just to the east of the Rocky Mountains, known throughout the region as “The Rockies.” The mountains do not rise abruptly out of the plains. Rather, a ridge of hills in front of the Rocky Mountains runs from North to South. These hills are called the foothills and are often mistaken for the Rockies that lie behind.
The hills in the front are typically more purple while the mountains behind tend toward blue. The tallest mountain peaks visible from Downtown Denver, like Pikes Peak and Longs Peak have snow on them year round (it’s the white that you see).
Denver does sit in a slight depression which can result in hazy days when the air is calm and the temperatures are right, often resulting in what is called an inversion.
Otherwise, Denver’s sunny skies often seem unusually blue to visitors. This isn’t your imagination, there is less atmosphere at 5200 feet which makes the sun brighter and the skies bluer. It also makes it easier to get sunburned!
Where to go in Denver?