Rising from the western edge of America’s High Plains, and shadowed by the Rocky Mountains, is Colorado’s capital, Denver.
The city sprang up in 1858, right were the first flakes of gold in the state were discovered. As it turned out, there wasn’t that much gold around Denver, the real riches lay up in the mountains, but ever since, The Mile High City has continued to grow, thanks partly to its incredible weather.
Denver is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year; that’s more than Miami! Just an easy walk or bus ride from Denver’s modern downtown is the Golden Triangle, an area filled with grand civic architecture, museums and public art.
Climb the stairs to the Capitol Building, where at the 13th step, you’ll be exactly one mile above sea level. Spend some time in the Denver Art Museum, which celebrates the region’s landscapes and peoples.
The museum houses 18 000 Native American treasures, making it one of the most important First Nations’ collections in the country. Not far from the Golden Triangle is the Children’s museum of Denver, where little adventurers can discover the world of kinetics, explore nature, and climb aboard a big ol’ firetruck.
There are plenty of other natural wonders to explore, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and Butterfly Pavilion. Denverites have always enjoyed the great outdoors, and believe their animal friends should too.
Denver Zoo pioneered the use of natural habitats, so it’s guests can feel right at home, whatever the weather. Uncover the region’s prehistoric past at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. But to really walk in the footsteps of giants, hit the Triceratops Trail at Dinosaur Ridge.
Here, on Denver’s western outskirts you’ll find the Morrison Fossil Area, one of the most extensive dinosaur track and fossil sites in the world. Just up the road is the historic mining town
of Golden. Mosey on into the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain, dedicated to the life and times of America’s greatest Wild West showman.
Just outside, his final resting place sits high on a ridge where the winds whistle through the Ponderosa Pines. Down the hill at the Clear Creek History Park, peer into the lives of the pioneers who carved out a life in shadows and snowdrifts of the Great Divide.
Golden is also home to the Colorado Railroad Museum which lovingly maintains the locomotives, cars and cabooses that once traversed the region’s High Plains and mountain passes.
For many in these parts, the mountains become an obsession. Golden’s Mountaineering Museum is dedicated to the technology and spirit of those who answer the call of those lofty Peaks.
Denverites can’t seem to get enough of the great outdoors. While you’re in the Golden area, call into to one of the world’s most beautiful natural amphitheaters, Red Rocks. Go for a run with locals, or time your visit to take in a show.
Many of the world’s great artists, from the Beatles to U2 have performed here under the blood red rocks. If all that sightseeing and history builds up a thirst, you’re in luck.
The area around Denver is known as the Beer Triangle. Take a tour of the Coors Brewery, before exploring the regions dozens of brewpubs and microbreweries. Denver is surrounded by places of incredible beauty.
Just over an hours drive south are the ancient sandstone formations that have been attracting travelers and dreamers for thousands of years the Garden of the Gods. Nearby, is the pretty town of Manitou Springs.
From here you can hike, catch the cog railway, or drive to Pikes Peak ~ weather permitting! This is where Colorado’s real high country begins. Try your hand at prospecting, keep an eye out for the legendary Bigfoot, or just soak up the views from 14 000 feet. When the sun starts to drop, it’s time to head back to Denver.
Warm up by the fire, then make tracks to the Buckhorn Exchange, a Denver institution spanning three centuries. Order up a rattlesnake dip, an alligator tail, or an elk steak. But don’t miss the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters.
The Rockies loom large over Denver, turn any street corner and there they are. Maybe that’s why folks here are so relaxed; living this close to nature’s majesty has a knack of keeping things in perspective.
So, if you’ve got a hankering for best of big city comforts and clear mountain air ~ there’s a warm, wild, welcome, waiting for you, in Denver.