Denver, located at the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, is the state capital and largest city in Colorado. Situated 5672 feet above sea level in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is known as the "Mile High City." It was named after James W. Denver, governor of the Kansas Territory that included parts of Colorado. Prospectors settled Denver in 1858 with the discovery of gold on the shores of Cherry Creek. The opening of gold and silver mines in the 1870s and 1880s brought prosperity to the growing city. Installation of military bases in the area after World War II triggered even more rapid growth.
Today, Denver is an important commercial, industrial and transportation hub. Its economy is buoyed by the telecommunications and biomedical technology industries, as well as mining, construction, real estate and tourism. Denver is home to a US Mint and numerous federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Denver International Airport, opened in 1995, is the largest airport in North America, spread over 53 square miles.
Denver hasnsports teams in four major leagues. Just west of downtown is new, 76,000-seatnInvesco Field at Mile High, home of the NFL's Denver Broncos and soccer'snColorado Rapids. The stadium also houses the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. InnDenver's Lower Downtown (LoDo), 50,000-seat Coors Field hosts baseball'snColorado Rockies. Just outside LoDo is the 18,000-seat Pepsi Center, where thenNBA's Nuggets and the NHL's Avalanche play their home games.
For recreation, the Colorado area more than makes up for what it lacks in ocean with its majestic mountains and world-class skiing.
The Rockies make Denver a hiker's paradise, with dozens of challenging trails within a 30-mile radius of the city. Denver rafting companies provide trips to Clear Creek for 15 miles of white water rafting between Idaho Springs and Golden. Nearby Eldora and Loveland offer some of the finest downhill and cross-country skiing you can find. Just 80 miles away, Vail is the most visited ski resort in the United States. For year-round skiing, a permanent snowfield at 11,000-foot-high St Mary's Glacier is just a few hours away. Also within that distance is Aspen, the popular and celebrated ski getaway for the wealthy, filled with 14,000 peaks and a heavy dose of culture. Colorado Springs, only an hour south of Denver, has the US Air Force Academy and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, and offers plenty of skiing, rafting, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Denver's nightlife revolves around LoDo, the Lower Downtown area, with its high concentration of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. Larimer Square, on the southwestern edge of the downtown grid, offers century-old buildings with shops, restaurants, brewpubs and nightclubs. Boulder, just 26 miles north of Denver and home of the University of Colorado, offers many nightlife options, and events such as the 7-week Shakespeare Festival.
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