Aerial view of the Denver State Capitol Building in Denver

33 Fun & Interesting Facts About Denver

Denver is an urban city with trendy restaurants and a great arts scene, but it’s also an outdoor mecca with kayaking, hiking, trail running, and more all within city limits! It’s no wonder there are plenty of interesting facts about Denver that cover a range of topics. 

I’m a Colorado local, and I’m here to share a bunch of these facts about Denver – some that are useful for traveling or moving to the city, and some that are just plain fun and quirky!

From rules about the state capitol (no blocking our famous Rocky Mountains with an ugly building, if you please) to when you can expect snow and how much, you’ll find a host of fascinating, fun facts about Denver, this town that I love so much. If you want more, see my list of interesting facts about Colorado too!

Table of Contents

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33 Denver Facts

1. Denver Is The 19th Most Populous City In The United States

Denver’s population was 715,522 according to the 2020 United States census. [Source]

2. Denver Gets An Average Of 56.5 Inches Of Snow Per Year

March is typically the snowiest month of the year in the Mile High City. Fortunately, the snow usually doesn’t stick around long – in fact, you could have a sunny, warm day immediately after a snowstorm! [Source]

3. Denver Has Six Professional Sports Teams

Aerial view of Mile High Stadium during the game of Denver Broncos
(photo: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock)

Denver boasts the Denver Broncos football team, the Colorado Rockies baseball team, the Denver Nuggets basketball team, the Colorado Avalanche hockey team, the Colorado Rapids soccer team, and the Colorado Mammoth lacrosse team. 

Seeing a game or match is definitely a popular activity to do in Denver.

4. Denver’s Average High In July Is 88°F

Denver’s summers can get hot, but the average high temperature in July is 88°F and in August is 86°F. There are plenty of places to cool off, too, with rivers, lakes, and the mountains nearby!

👉 Read Next: Best Months to Visit Denver

5. Denver Was Founded In 1858

The Denver City Town Company was formed as a result of the Colorado gold rush. It’s an unusual capital city because it’s not along a major river or railroad route. [Source]

👉 Pro Tip: If you’ll be visiting Denver, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Denver for tips on where to go and what to see! 

6. Denver Was The Third Capital City Of Colorado

The Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver from the outside

Colorado’s first state capital was in Colorado City, then it moved to Golden, and finally settled in Denver. Denver’s status as the state capital was cemented with a one-vote margin. [Source]

7. The First Permanent Building In Denver Was A Saloon

The saloon wasn’t just for drinking (although that certainly happened!). In a foreshadowing of Denver’s love of the performing arts, a performance of Macbeth was staged at the saloon in the early days. 

8. Denver Won The Bid For the Olympic Games In 1976 But Rejected It 

Although Denver leaders were awarded the 1976 Olympics, skyrocketing costs, bad planning, and environmental worries led voters to reject the games. The Olympics went to Austria that year. [Source]

9. Denver’s Closest Ski Resort Is 36 Miles Away

Echo Mountain Resort is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver. However, because the location gets less snow than other mountain resorts, it’s not open as often or as reliably as the more popular ski resorts. [Source]

🎿 Love Skiing? Check out this list of other ski resorts near Denver to plan your own ski trip! 

10. You Can Tour The Capitol Building

Tours are available of Denver’s State Capitol Building, including a dome tour. It’s one of the best things to do in Denver.

The outside of the dome is covered with gold leaf from a Colorado mine. Inside, the Capitol is decorated with all of the known supply of Colorado Rose Onyx. [Source]

11. Denver’s Average First Snow Is In October 

View of City Park covered with snow during winter season

October 18 is the average date of the first snowfall in Denver. The latest first snowfall of the year was on Dec. 10, 2021, while the earliest was September 3, 1961. [Source]

12. Denver Has A Thriving Arts Scene

The Denver metropolitan area collects more money per capita for the arts than any other city. Denver has a 1/10 of a cent sales tax for the arts that benefits the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, and many more institutions across town.

📚 Related Reading: Curious about other art institutions in the Mile High City? Check out my guide on the Best Museums in Denver, including the Clyfford Still Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art. 

13. You Can Kayak Through Downtown Denver

Kayakers can paddle down the South Platte River, or enjoy the water at Confluence Park where the South Platte and Cherry Creek join. Kayakers can bring their own boat or rent one near Confluence Park. 

♨️ Love Water Activities? Denver is near plenty of beautiful hot springs for soaking and pampering yourself for a bit!

14. Denver Has A Big Blue Bear

View of a big blue bear statue leaning on a building in Denver
(photo: Kit Leong / Shutterstock)

Downtown Denver has lots of public art statues, murals, and sculptures but this is one of the most endearing. The sculpture is technically titled “I See What You Mean,” but everyone calls him the Big Blue Bear because…well, look at him! You’ll find this massive cobalt creature peeking in the window of the Colorado Convention Center. 

15. Denver Was Named After The Territorial Governor Of Kansas

The men who developed the Denver City Town Company named it after James W. Denver, the governor of Kansas Territory, in hopes of some political favors. However, Governor Denver resigned a month before the founding of Denver City. James W. Denver visited the area exactly twice in his lifetime. [Source]

16. The Cheeseburger Was Invented In Denver

Louis Ballast, who owned the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In, applied for a patent for a cheeseburger sandwich in 1935. You can still see the spot where the drive-in used to be northwest of downtown Denver.

17. A Golf Ball Flies Farther In Denver Than At Sea Level

Your golf ball will soar about 6% farther in the Mile High City than it will at sea level. This is mainly due to Denver’s rarified air – the thinner air causes less drag. [Source]

18. So Does A Baseball

View of a Colorado Rockies player swinging a bat
(photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock)

Just like with golf balls, baseballs travel farther in Denver than in sea level cities. This can lead to some exciting baseball, and earned Coors Field a reputation as a hitter’s ballpark. [Source]

19. Denver’s Gold Rush Began In 1858

Prospectors discovered gold below the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River – not much, but enough to set off a Colorado gold rush that escalated the next year. Colorado’s Gold Rush is considered to have really gotten going in 1859 – a decade after California’s. [Source]

 👉 Pro Tip: To learn more about Colorado’s gold rush history, take a mine tour in Idaho Springs, one of many fun things to do in Idaho Springs

20. Elvis Once Flew To Denver For A Sandwich

After eating a tasty sandwich in the Mile High City, Elvis Presley never forgot it. In 1976, he took his private jet to Denver, had 30 sandwiches delivered to his plane, then flew back home after he and his crew had eaten.

The sandwich was made from a full jar of blueberry jam, a jar of peanut butter, and a pound of bacon on a hollowed-out loaf of bread. There have been many variations on it since. 

21. The Tiles Along 16th Street Mall Look Like A Navajo Rug, Or A Rattlesnake

View of people walking in the 16th Street Mall
(photo: Albert Pego / Shutterstock)

The 16th Street Mall is one of the biggest malls in Denver. The design of the 400,000 charcoal gray, light gray, and red tiles on the pedestrian sidewalk along the 16th Street Mall was inspired by southwestern images including a Navajo rug and a rattlesnake. You can see the pattern best from above. [Source]

22. Several Places Around Denver Have Mile Markers

There are several spots in downtown Denver with markers signifying they’re exactly one mile above sea level. In fact, there are three markers on the steps in front of the Colorado State Capitol Building because measurements have gotten more exact over the years. At Coors Field, if you sit in one of the purple seats, you’ll be exactly one mile up as you watch the game.

23. Union Station Was Completed In 1881

Denver Union Station was the largest building in the West when it was completed. Now, it’s a place to catch a train or bus – or head inside the main building for drinks, food, live music, or to stay at the Crawford Hotel. [Source]

24. The Best Time To Visit Denver Is Between April And May Or September Through October 

The best time to visit Denver is in April, May, September, or October when you’ll find cheaper prices than the more popular summer and winter months. You’ll also find fewer crowds. The Mile High City is also abloom with gorgeous flowers in spring, and dazzles with autumn color in fall. [Source]

25. Denver Hosts One Of The Country’s Largest Horse Shows

A man doing rodeo horse bucking in The National Western Stock Show
(photo: photo-denver / Shutterstock)

The National Western Stock Show is Colorado’s largest western trade show, with rodeos, cattle auctions, and so much more. It attracts more than 700,000 visitors during the sixteen days of the show every January. [Source]

26. Denver International Airport Is The Largest In The Country

Going strictly by land area, Denver International Airport covers 33,531 acres, or 53 square miles. It’s larger than Manhattan, San Francisco, or Boston, and is the largest airport in the country. In fact, the four airports in the country that are busier than Denver could all fit on DIA property. [Source]

27. Denver’s Performing Arts Complex Is The Second-Largest Performing Arts Area Under One Roof In The Country

The Denver Performing Arts Complex is home to more than fourteen performance venues and event facilities. Visitors can see musicals, ballet, orchestra performances, plays, concerts, and much more. 

👉 Read Next: Best Areas & Places to Stay in Denver

28. You Can Visit The Largest Gold Piece Ever Found In Colorado In Denver

Head to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see “Tom’s Baby” – a 13 lb, 7 oz gold nugget found near Breckenridge. It got its name after prospector Tom Groves wrapped the piece in a blanket and showed it off around town.

29. Denver Has One Of The Largest City Park Systems In The Country

Denver has over 200 parks in the city, and even more located in the mountains. Denver mountain parks include the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, and Genesee Park which is home to a buffalo herd off of I-70. [Source]

🥾 Love Hiking? With so many parks in and near the city, Denver hiking trails are abundant – regardless of your skill level! For a guided experience, consider tours in Rocky Mountain National Park.

30. Denver Airport Is Home To A Demon Horse

Love him or hate him, anyone who has passed by the intense orange gaze of Mustang (more commonly known as “Blucifer”) while driving to DIA certainly won’t forget him. The horse is said by some people to be cursed, and it’s true that part of the statue came loose and caused the death of the artist who created it. [Source]

31. Denver Has The Longest Continuous Street In The U.S. 

View of the Colfax Marathon participants in Denver
Colfax Marathon participants – it’s not easy to run a mile above sea level! (photo: photo-denver / Shutterstock)

Colfax Avenue is a little over 50 miles long, and is the longest continuous street in the United States. Much of that street runs through Denver, and the Colfax Marathon which happens each spring takes place in Denver. 

👉 Read Next: 15 Top Neighborhoods to Live in Denver

32. There Are 200 Named Peaks That Can Be Seen From The Colorado State Capitol Building

Colorado state law prohibits building any structure that would block the view of the state’s pride and joy – the Colorado Rocky Mountains – from the Colorado State Capitol Building. 

From there you can see more than 200 peaks, including several Colorado 14ers.

33. The Denver Mint Is The Largest Producer Of Coins In The World

The Denver Mint can put out more than 50 million coins in a day, including circulating coins like your standard pennies and nickels, commemorative coins, and uncirculated coin sets that are collector’s items. [Source]

Denver FAQs

What is unique about Denver?

Denver is unique for its status as the Mile High City since it sits exactly one mile above sea level. Denver is also known for its beautiful scenery, with the Colorado Rocky Mountains looming in the background. Denver has many parks and outdoor spaces, and even has a river running through downtown Denver where people can paddle and cool off. 

Why is Denver so popular?

Denver is popular thanks to its beautiful scenery, amazing outdoor activities, variety of sports teams, and its arts and culture. Denver residents contribute a great amount of money to arts programs in the city, and there are outstanding performances and museums. Denver also has a great food scene with creative cuisine from around the world. 

***

Hopefully, these fun facts about Denver have shown you some of why I love this city so much! If you’re planning a visit here, be sure to check out Nate’s guide to Things to do in Denver, along with his tips on Where to Stay in Denver!

I hope you found these facts about Denver interesting!

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