The Mile High City
Denver, Colorado is located on the high plains just east of the Rocky Mountains about 336 miles (540 km) north of Albuquerque, New Mexico and 98 miles (157 km) south of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Denver is often named the 'Mile High City' because it is exactly one mile (1609 m.) above sea level. The
Mountains get a lot of snow every winter but Denver's climate is mild. The city sees approximately 300 days of annual sunshine; and when winter storms do occur, the snow melts fairly quickly.
The people of Denver are friendly, and their attitude and dress are usually casual. The area offers plenty of outdoor recreation, including 200 parks in the city and 20,000 acres of parklands in the local mountains, making it the largest park system in the USA. Denver has a thriving arts and cultural scene. It is passionate about sports (Denver has eight professional sports teams), and is a popular destination for visitors.
Denver is the primary gateway to the numerous Colorado ski
resorts. Most travelers fly into Denver International Airport (DIA) before going on to the various
ski resorts located from fifty to one hundred miles westward within the
Mountains. Many airlines have commuter planes that fly directly into the resorts from Denver, and there are also shuttles and bus services that take passengers to the resorts.
DIA is one of the largest airports in the world by area. It sits on 34,000 acres or 53 square miles (85.30 square km). The airport's white tent-like exterior also makes it one of the world's most recognizable airports. Its 34 white peaks on the roof represent and reflect the nearby
Mountains. The airport is located nearly twenty miles from downtown. Public transportation to downtown via buses costs $8 to $10. Shuttles cost $22 and taxis about $40.
Denver is the capital of Colorado and has many government-related sites and buildings. The State Capitol building is located in downtown Denver and is one of the most distinguishable landmarks in the area. With its white granite facade and large pillars at the entrances, it resembles the United States Capitol in Washington D. C. The most striking feature of the Colorado Capitol is the 24-karat gold plated dome commemorating Colorado's Gold Rush days. The 13th step on the west side of the State Capitol Building is exactly one mile above sea level. It is open to visitors and offers guided tours.denver_capital.jpg
One of the most fascinating tours in Denver is of the United States Mint. The Denver Mint is located 1.5 miles (2.41 km) east of the State Capitol. Approximately 32 million United States coins are made here each day. Visitors may take a tour and see the process of coin making. The Denver Mint, Fort Knox and West Point are the only three gold depositories in the United States. During the tour, visitors are able to view six gold bars.
Denver is the number one city in the United States for beer production per capita and is in second place for the amount of breweries in the city. Because of this, one of Denver's nicknames is "The Napa Valley of Beer." Every September, thousands of people attend the largest beerfest in the USA, the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Brewmasters from hundreds of breweries compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. Visitors can taste one-ounce beer samples from the festival's breweries that are arranged by regions of the country.denver_bear.jpg
The Coors Brewing Company is located in the town of Golden, about 14 miles (22.53 km) northwest of downtown Denver. Coors has been brewing beer since 1873. Today it is the third largest brewer in the U.S. Free tours are offered on a first-come-first-served basis and fill up quickly during the summer months. The tours are about 45 minutes long and offer a look into the malting, brewing and packaging processes. Limited free samples are offered along the tour and in the tasting room at the end of the tour.
The Denver International Airport main terminal.
Denver International Airport, (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN). Commonly referred to as DIA, it's about 20 miles east of downtown. Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all maintain hubs in Concourses A, B, and C respectively. Most other major domestic carriers also have service here.
Frontier Airlines. Discount carrier with its hub at DIA's Concourse A and service to and from over 60 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
United Airlines. The largest carrier at the airport, with service across the nation and the world from Concourse B.
Southwest Airlines. The quintessential discount airline maintains its fastest-growing hub in Concourse C.
The airport is set amidst rolling plains, pretty far from any conceivable local destination. The public transportation service skyRide offers 5 bus routes from the airport with several stops each, delivering you to many "Park and Ride" locations in the metro area for $8-$12 one way. Purchase tickets at the RTD desk in the main terminal. The airport can be crowded due to a post-9/11 security redesign that created a single central screening station, followed by a train that passengers must take to Concourses B and C. It can take up to an hour to get from the ticket line to the gate, so travelers should get to the airport at least 1.5 hours before their scheduled departure time. There are a number of airport shuttles you can take from DIA to the city and destinations in the mountains.
Private pilots mostly fly into Centennial Airport (ICAO: KAPA), south of town. On warm days the density altitude may make takeoffs difficult; Centennial has long runways for this reason, and to accommodate a large volume of private jet traffic. Flight visibility in the Denver area is often in excess of 100 miles; weather fronts tend to travel quickly N-S along the front range. For small planes, any direction but west is a good choice.
Since 1914, the City of Denver has maintained a bison herd on the outskirts of town at Genessee Park. The herd is still easily viewed along Interstate 70.
I-25 (north and south), I-70 (east and west), and I-76 (northeast) are the major interstates leading in and out of the city. I-225 and I-270 cross the Denver area.
U.S. Highway 40 connects Denver to Salt Lake City to the west.
Interstate 70 connects Denver to Summit County, the location of many major ski areas, to the west.
Interstate 25 connects Denver to Colorado Springs in the south and Cheyenne, Wyoming in the north.
U.S. Highway 36 connects to the northwestern suburbs and on to Boulder.
C-470 Connects to the southern end of E-470 (also accessible from I-25) leading to the south, southwest, and western suburbs.
Toll Roads There are a couple of major toll roads in the Denver area, and they can help you avoid some serious rush hour traffic on I-70 and I-25.
E-470 connects the airport to the southeast, east, northeast and northwest suburbs, C-470 at its southern terminus, and the Northwest Parkway at its northern terminus, leading to
Boulder. E-470 is a "cashless" toll road - there are no longer any toll plazas and no way to pay tolls except via an in-car device or a billing service. If renting a car, check to see if the rental car agency provides for proper billing; otherwise, you may be subject to billed tolls and hefty service charges. Tolls are $2-4 and without an in-car device, service charges can run to $25 or more.
Northwest Parkway connects to the north end of E-470 leading to north, northeast and northwest suburbs, and
Boulder. Also accessible from I-25. Tolls are up to $3 each, and booths accept only cash. There's no attendant between 10PM and 6AM, so pay attention to the signs; though some booths still accept exact change, others require you to pay online or by mail.
Amtrak's California Zephyr stops in Denver once a day, continuing east to Chicago and west to Emeryville,
California. Union Station, where the trains normally stop, is currently undergoing renovations; a temporary station has been set up at Wewatta and 21st Street, across the train tracks from Coors Field. To get to downtown from the station, head down Wewatta Street along the railroad tracks past Union Station to 16th Street - there, you can cross the tracks into downtown.
Greyhound The bus station is downtown at 1055 19th St, just a few blocks away from Coors Field and other central attractions. Serviced by Greyhound and skyRide buses, the station also has storage lockers which can be rented hourly.